For example, there is the (classified) National Intelligence Estimate regarding prospects in Iraq was prepared for Bush in late July which was leaked to the US papers. Apparently there is a significant amount of pessimism in government circles about the situation there. This indicates that at least some people are paying attention in the lofty heights of US imperialism. But not Bush, who claims that only "a handful of people . . . are willing to kill in order to stop the process" in Iraq. "Handful" he later explained meant "a few people, relative to the whole,[who] are trying to stop the march of freedom."
His grasp of reality is weak, to say the least, given that the report said that, at best, Iraq would remain somewhat stable in political, economic and security terms. At worse, it predicted civil war. In other words, the options ranged from occupying troops and Iraqi civilians dying in relatively small numbers each day (as now) or in far greater numbers. And a year long insurgency, never mind civil war, cannot be conducted by a handful of people. The fact that the insurgency has been growing in size and militancy since Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" in May, 2003, shows the truth of the matter. The insurgents have, as he urged them, brought it on.
So Bush seems intent on proving that he lives on a different planet on the rest of us. Asked about this memo at the UN, Bush rejected it as a "guess" and of little value. Which makes you wonder why the CIA bothered to produce it. Perhaps because the same intelligence unit warned the Bush Junta about the possible costly results of an invasion (such as an insurgency against occupying forces and their puppet regime) two months before the war began? And let us not forget, when Bush was talking about Iraq's wonderful future at the Republican National Convention he had, presumably, read this memo (or, at least, got someone else to read it to him). Which means that he was lying. Although, to be fair, he may just be utterly incompetent and did not, like the infamous memo reporting that Bin Laden was planning to strike America, actually read it. Or, perhaps, Bush is simply applying faith-based politics and so intelligence (in both senses of the word) is not needed. At best it is simply to be utilised or rejected depending on the passing requirements of an ideological and political agenda. At worse, a distraction from more important tasks (you really don't want to spoil your holidays with work related stuff, eh?).
But reality does have a tendency to impose itself. The very same day as Bush proclaimed that progress was being made in Iraq and that the planned elections would be held, Donald Rumsfeld raised the possibility that only limited elections would be held in January. Those places where violence was considered too severe for people to go to polls would be excluded. So accepting no-go areas is steady progress towards democracy?
In Iraq, US armoured vehicles fought their way into Sadr City, the sprawling slum which is the bastion of Muqtada Sadr, killing 10 and wounding 92. In Najaf, US troops raided Sadr's office in a clear breach to the agreement that brought the August fighting to an end there. A spokesman for the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani denounced the raid as being contrary to the agreement under which US troops withdrew from the city. Across the country, the US is systematically and repeatedly bombing towns and cities. It is common knowledge that after the US election, a major assault on rebel held areas is planned. Does this sound like progress? Or a continued war?
Operation Iraqi Freedom, part two
Then there is Bush's faithful lapdog, Blair. In stark contrast to Bush's rosy picture of progress in Iraq, Blair states that we are now at war in Iraq again. So, presumably, we will have to "liberate" whole swathes of the country -- again. While the location is the same, the enemy has changed. Now the UK is at war in Iraq against global terrorism.
In what amounts to yet another amazing coincidence, mere days before the Duelfer report confirmed that Saddam did not have WMDs, Blair has taken this new war as the reason to put the past behind us. After months of stressing we must wait until this report is published to see whether he lied or not, this report is now no longer relevant. "Whatever the disagreements about the first conflict in Iraq to remove Saddam," he smugly opined, "in this conflict now taking place in Iraq, this is the crucible in which the future of this global terrorism will be decided." So, in other words, because Blair lied to the people to get involved in the Bush Junta's imperialist war, we should not mention it. We should move on and place the lies used to justify the first war into the memory hole (and accept the new ones without question).
But that is hard to do. We now know that in February 2003, the joint intelligence committee reported that al-Qaida and associated groups continued to represent "by far the greatest terrorist threat to western interests, and that that threat would be heightened by military action against Iraq". Perhaps Blair should be reminded that a mere year ago the only group in Iraq linked to al-Qaida operated in the US- and British-patrolled Kurdish area, beyond Saddam's power. Now every jihadist who wants to can operate throughout the whole of Iraq. Blair's "cockpit" of international terrorism has been created by his own actions and now he wants us to back him unconditionally.
So, ironically, Blair argues that victory in this "new" war in Iraq would be "a huge blow to this form of terrorism." It would be churlish to point out that he created the conditions which this terrorism has flourished by invading Iraq in the first place. But forget this little fact, for "now is not the time for the international community to divide or disagree but to come together." So, apparently, we must support him now precisely because of his previous incompetence and lying. This man has no shame.
Sense and Decency?
But Blair insisted every "sensible and decent person" should move on and recognise that the terrorists and insurgents were opposed to "every single one of the values we in countries like this hold dear." Like, say, telling the truth? Or being accountable to the people you claim to represent? Or paying attention to the wishes of the electorate? Or sticking to manifesto promises? Or not starting wars by invading other countries for oil? If "belief in our values" rather than superior fire power is the key to winning, then this "second" war in Iraq is lost. Ethically, the occupying powers are bankrupt. They invaded on the basis of lies spun in the interests of US imperialism. They are imposing the wishes of foreign powers on a population which has turned against them. If Blair had any values he would not have supported the war and would withdraw British troops now (particularly as the "liberated" Iraqis want them to go). But, of course, we should never forget that it is imperial interests and reasons of state, not the lack of personal morality, which explain Blair's actions. As such, the Liberal Democrats idea of turning the next general election into a referendum on the war misses the point. It also highlights the need for direct action, which, unlike the ballot, can be used at all times and depends on what we want and are willing to do rather than trusting a different set of politicians to do what they promised rather than what the state bureaucracy and big business want.
Little wonder Blair, like Bush, to confusing the insurgency (which targets the occupiers) with the terrorists who are targeting ordinary Iraqis. Even the head of the army, General Sir Mike Jackson, admitted that British troops were now fighting "a counter-insurgency war." As recently as August, the British expended 100,000 rounds of ammunition in Maysan province at Amara, saying they had the most intense fighting since the Korean War! That is hardly a war against a few terrorists.
And as Blair's and Bush's proclaimed reasons for the war have been exposed as the lies they were, both has moved on to continually stressing an excuse for the war. This was the reason Blair explicitly denied was rationale for war, namely that of freeing the Iraqi people and "regime change." Yet this is clearly as false as the WMD or 9/11 assertions. Newly leaked Cabinet Office and Foreign Office documents have shown that in March 2002 he was more concerned about regime change than with the danger from WMD he publicly stressed. They also show that ministers were warned by Cabinet Office officials that the US wanted to invade even though there was no evidence he posed any more of a threat than before or supported international terrorism.
And has there been regime change in Iraq? No, simply a change in the dictator. American and the UK are occupying powers which have installed a puppet government in Baghdad. These unelected powers are fighting an insurgency that controls numerous cities and towns across the country. In Afghanistan, their President is often dismissed as the "Mayor of Kabul." Iraq is fast heading towards a similar fate. But best not mention that. It would undermine the power of positive thinking.
But Bush continues denying reality, calling both Iraq and Afghanistan "the world's newest democracies" at the UN in spite of the fact both have US appointed puppet regimes. Then again, what should we expect? Skilfully ignoring the anti-Castro terror networks in America, the US state's backing of the contras and other terrorist groups and its own state terrorist actions Bush stated "we know that oppressive governments support terror while free governments fight the terrorists in their midst." Strangely Bush also failed to mention that Ayad Allawi, the head of the US appointed Iraq regime, headed a CIA-financed terrorist group operating within the country which conducted terror attacks in the mid-1990s, including the bombing of a packed movie theatre, newspaper offices and public buses, as well as car bombings.
Bush, the starter of two wars and the backer of numerous oppressive regimes worldwide, also proclaimed at the UN that others could not find safety in "ignoring the struggles and oppression of others." Which struggles and whose oppression? The struggles of landless peasants facing the might of US agribusiness? The struggles of workers trying to organise? The struggles of Palestinians or of Colombian trade unionists and peasants? The struggles of women fighting for control over their own bodies against the religious right? The oppression of minorities, workers and women and their struggles for freedom? Struggles against the oppression of capitalism and the violence needed to sustain it? Of course not. He meant we must not ignore the US state and follow it in determining who is "oppressed" (such a big business faced by a mildly reformist government) and whose natural resources should be liberated for the greater good of US corporate interests. Anyone else can go hang, particularly if they are suffering from the oppression of a US backed regime or of the imperial power itself.
He really must be on drugs if he wants us to take him seriously! But what can you expect from al-Qaida's greatest recruiting agent?
Masters and Servants
People sometimes argue that anarchists are too extreme in their opposition to the state. They argue that in a democracy the government represents the people and, consequently, the people are sovereign. The Iraq invasion should disabuse them of such illusions. On the face of it, the last few weeks should have resulted in mass resignations. The Iraq Survey Group has concluded that Saddam had none of the WMD's Blair and Bush said he had. Whitehall documents have been leaked which show that Blair was warned that the post-war chaos in Iraq was likely. Then the UN Secretary-General said that the invasion of Iraq was "illegal" (the only surprising thing is that it took him so long to say it).
And still Blair remains in power. "The people are the masters. We are the servants of the people," said Blair after he was elected seven years ago. "We will never forget that and, if we ever do, the people will very soon show that what the electorate gives, the electorate can take away." Yet his government has starkly exposed the myth that the state represents the people, that the people are "the masters." Bush and Blair have exposed the real nature of the state in all its lying and violent infamy.
Blair claims that we must "realise that the struggle of the [Iraqi] prime minister and the Iraqi people, for liberty and democracy and stability, is actually our struggle too." Yet what is liberty and democracy when the government lies to and ignores the people it claims to represent? When decisions are made by a few people at the top? When, during work hours, people are subjected to autocracy? When the wealthy few dominate society and ensure it is run in their interests?
But regardless of Blair's platitudes and lies, liberty is our struggle. It is a struggle against a form of "democracy" in which a few people make decisions for the rest and expect that majority to quietly acquiesce to what their (mis)rulers do in their name. It is a struggle against an economy which exploits and oppresses the many for the power and profit of a few. It is a struggle against a system where the interests of big business are put before the interests of the many and the planet they live on.
Our struggle should be for a new system, one based on genuine freedom, on genuine participation, on genuine equality. Our struggle should be a struggle for anarchism.