the surprises of the London bombings has been the line taken by prominent
imperialist spokesmen. Tony Blair, Charles Clarke, John Reid, Condoleezza
Rice and John Howard have all been careful to say, or imply, that the
bombings were not specifically related to their nations invasion
and occupation of Iraq.
first glance, this is a bizarre position, but on further reflection
the reason for it is obvious. Clear majorities in Australia and Britain
were opposed to joining the US-led invasion of Iraq. Majorities in Britain,
the United States and Australia now think that the Coalition should
get out of Iraq (although there are differences on the timetable). The
war is widely viewed as immoral, a bad mistake and a quagmire. It follows
logically from majority public opinion that if the putative enemy is
now bringing the war to London (and potentially, New York, Chicago,
Los Angeles, Washington, Sydney or Melbourne) we can remove the threat
by bringing the troops home.
If on the other hand the London attacks are just about their
hatred of us (as Bush and Blair are now spinning it) a Coalition
retreat from Iraq would make no difference to the shadowy Islamist fanatics
for whom (the story goes) the target is our way of life.
Of course, this is the exact opposite of George Bushs previous
line that its better to fight the terrorists in Iraq rather than
back home in the good old US of A.
With uncanny precision, the various imperialist spokesmen have picked
up the new line and are staying on message (as they say
in the spin industry). In the 24 hours after the bombings the new spin
was so uniformly presented that it seemed as though theyd workshopped
it in advance, although its probably just that you dont
get their jobs without a finely-honed instinct for political manipulation.
But I believe the new message serves a much bigger purpose and one that
arises out of the dilemma in which the American-led Coalition now finds
By any standard the Coalition is in a very, very, awkward politico-military
The fact is that the Bush regime, led by the neoconservatives, misjudged
the strength of Iraqi and Arab nationalism and embarked on the war with
a fraction of the number of troops necessary to win decisively and to
dominate colonial administrations headed up by reliable puppets.
Right now, to prevail in Iraq, the Coalition would have to deploy not
less than 300,000 troops (not counting the inherently unreliable Iraqi
puppet troops the sort of forces quaintly referred to as native
levies by 19th Century colonialists). This disturbing state of
affairs is frankly admitted by all qualified military observers who
are not actually beholden to their government for the next pay cheque.
The core of the problem is that to present a façade of democracy
in Iraq and to recruit Shiites to fight the predominantly Sunni and
secularist partisan movement, the Coalition is now totally reliant on
the goodwill and the Islamist military surrogates of the
Iranian government they once targeted as part of the Axis of Evil.
So in spite of some elements within the Bush administration persisting
with attempts to bully the Iranian government over its nuclear ambitions,
Tehran has a lot of leverage over Washington. This ugly and embarrassing
predicament has arisen directly out of the Bush regimes failure
to put enough boots on the ground.
On the one hand an open accommodation with Tehran, recognizing Irans
tutelage over most of southern, predominantly Shiite, Iraq would be
a humiliating blow to American prestige. On the other hand, persisting
with a confrontational stance against Iran runs the danger of a guerilla
war in the south pitting militias loyal to Iran against British, Australian
and other coalition forces. This would be a military debacle because
the Coalition forces in the south are simply too small to handle a determined
And Washingtons reliance on the Tehran government worsens the
danger of Saudi Arabia, Syria and even Turkey clandestinely supporting
the Sunni/Baathist resistance.
Thus the occupation has degenerated into a debacle, derailing the neo-cons'
strategy, which aimed at giving of the US (and its client states, Britain
and Australia), unrestricted access to Iraqs oil and using it
to ride out the rapidly approaching peak of world oil production and
the subsequent relentless decline in supplies.
To pull out of Iraq now, letting a once-stable oil producer sink into
a complex, long-running, civil war, or to allow it to be divided between
Saudi Arabia and Iran would be an unprecedented geo-political disaster
for the US and would lead to its inexorable decline as the worlds
only superpower. Time to turn the situation around is fast running out.
So in practical terms, it all gets back to the imperialists urgent
need to put more boots on the ground in Iraq and the failure to achieve
this end using voluntary recruitment alone.
The imperialist powers need conscription, but so far theyve been
extremely reluctant to introduce it. The reasons arent hard to
find. Conscription isnt politically popular, and historically,
voters have been loath to support it unless they can see a very convincing,
direct threat to the nations borders or at least its vital interests.
Voters will turn a blind eye to overseas military adventures as long
as professional soldiers are doing the fighting and dying, but compulsory
military service focuses the public mind wonderfully. For this reason
capitalist governments prefer, if at all possible, to rely on volunteer
The Vietnam War began during the Cold War. At the time, in America,
Britain and Australia, conscription, in various forms, had been an established
part of the political landscape since WWII and relatively quiescent
populations had been sold on the need to fight revolutionary nationalism
led by Stalinist parties. In the case of Vietnam, military commitments
were scaled up gradually. The reality of the war crept up on people,
but conscription quickly led to trouble and a determined popular opposition
In contrast to the years preceding the Vietnam experience, we have now
seen two generations without conscription. In the US, Australia and
the UK, introducing it will be politically difficult
us back to the London bombings spin doctoring.
So far, the three governments have shied away from the intensive massaging
of public opinion necessary to clear away opposition to further cuts
to civil liberties and for the draft itself. For months now, Bush, Blair
and Howard have drifted fecklessly, hoping against the odds that something
will happen to turn around the situation in Iraq (and Afghanistan).The
evil, inexplicable terrorists spin is directed towards redressing
this failure. It will be far easier to convince the people that conscription
is somehow necessary for the defence of the homeland itself,
than for a colonial war thats already on the nose.
Of course, once conscription is introduced, the conscripts will be dispatched
as required to Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria or Iran, but for Bush, Blair
and Howard the trick is to get conscription, and other emergency measures,
by any spin necessary.
And see also ...
tralia slides further into the Iraq quagmire
The tragic inevitability of a forlorn hope
24 February 2005
Howards decision to double Australias ground troop commitment
in Iraq was inevitable. The prime minister put off the inevitable for
as long as he could, but Australias slavish adherence to the American
Alliance left him no option but to dispatch more troops to George Bush's
mad neo-colonial adventure. His justification of the decision as necessary
to stop the Coalition crumbling put a desperate spin on the situation
thats at odds with Washingtons upbeat line on post-election
It also signaled that the 450 extra Australian troops will not be the
last. A host of other nations that originally committed a few troops to
curry favour with the US have already pulled out or will shortly do so,
making increases in the Australian contingent, beyond those just announced
inevitable (and indeed Howard pointedly did not rule out further increases).
READ THE FULL ARTICLE >>>