Iraq war

Troops out - by their own choice

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A defence select committee of MPs has reported that the morale of British troops has fallen dramatically over the past several years, leading to a haemorrhaging of soldiers.

Recruitment levels have also sharply decreased, as - predictably - few want to sign up to be sent to fight in deeply unpopular wars. The stretching of troops over Iraq and Afghanistan has led them to not getting enough rest. So-called "harmony" guidelines define the amount of time troops spend on active duty in any one year, but these guidelines are being greatly exceeded according to the report.

Solidarity, struggle and resistance

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Iraqi-born writer and activist Haifa Zangana talks to Judith Orr about the struggle of Iraqi women still fighting for the liberation of their country.

Your new book, City of Widows, looks at the history of Iraq and in particular the role of women, which is often hidden in official histories.

During the period of Islam and the emergence of Islam and the building of the Islamic empire, there were always women leaders, poets - quite influential women in society.

Prominent women are more common at times of expansion, and when there have been struggles for national liberation women have been there, and have been quite powerful. So it varies from one period to another historically.

Gunning for profits

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On 16 September 17 Iraqi civilians were killed by Blackwater contractors on a convoy escort operation.

This brought the name of this private security company (PSC) into international news. The incident was neither unexpected nor unique, but the ensuing debate certainly was. Even the US-controlled Iraqi government has demanded the termination of Blackwater's contract.

There are currently 861 "contractors" working in Iraq under Blackwater CEO and founder Erik Prince. Each is paid $1,222 per day to protect US diplomats and high ranking military personnel.

Raising the dead

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According to an Associated Press poll in February, the average US citizen believes the Iraqi death toll to be just 9,890.

This is not necessarily surprising, when the mass corporate media routinely downplays the figure (ABC News, for example, regularly claims the figure stands at just 60,000).

Since General Tommy Franks announced that "we don't do body counts" the inability to prove the extent of deaths has been a useful tool for the occupying forces.

Fighting the long war

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The political landscape is starting to change around the anti-war movement. The departure of Tony Blair from office much earlier than he would have preferred - itself the result of the catastrophe in Iraq and the consistent campaigning of the movement - creates a new situation.

The British government is already committed to a gradual military withdrawal from Iraq, where the troops now seem to be serving no conceivable purpose even in the government's own terms. Gordon Brown may decide to accelerate this process. Likewise, he may announce a clear intention to set up an inquiry into the circumstances under which the country went to war in 2003.

Brown In, Troops Out?

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Will Gordon Brown pull the troops out of Iraq? He'd be a fool if he didn't try.

After all, the most recent election results demonstrate a high degree of hostility †“ still - to his predecessor's most disastrous policy. It is widely assumed that the victory of the Scottish National Party in Scotland was in a large part down to an anti-war vote.

The war remains unpopular everywhere, opposition to it is embedded deep into popular consciousness and its escalating costs are counterposed to government parsimony in nearly every other area of government spending.

Bad politics and worse history

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The war in Afghanistan ended more than five years ago. The BBC's John Simpson told us so as he helped "liberate" Kabul perched on a British tank.

Four years ago the BBC, along with the world's press, reported the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad, and proclaimed an era of peace and liberation for the Iraqi people.

What a difference half a decade makes. The Karzai government controls less and less Afghan territory, and that control relies on the US and British led Nato army. The Taliban, largely unlamented in 2001 when it was overthrown, is gaining support from a population sick of being targets of US bombs and tanks. It now controls half of Afghanistan.

Defeat: Why Bush Cannot Win the War in Iraq

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For George Bush "staying the course" remains the order of the day but for most people the war is already lost. Anne Ashford spoke to award winning Iraq correspondent, Patrick Cockburn, and Iraqi exile Sami Ramadani about the resistance, the roots of sectarian violence and about "exit strategies" for the occupiers.

On Christmas Day 2006 around 1,000 British troops reduced the Al-Jamiat police station in Basra to rubble. Their intended targets, members of the city's Serious Crime Unit, had already fled but the soldiers of the 19 Light Brigade blew up the building anyway. According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) verbose press release, the police station "erupted in a tower of debris and dust, removing a powerful symbol of oppression and corruption from the Basra skyline". The Serious Crime Unit, British commanders claimed, ran death squads and kidnapping gangs.

Either Way, They Lose

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By sending thousands more troops to Baghdad, Bush and the neocons have shown their inability to accept defeat but, argues Chris Nineham, the move will expand tensions at home.

Just when it seemed things couldn't get any worse for the US establishment, George Bush's antics have taken panic and division in Washington to new levels. His rejection of the Iraq Study Group report has put Bush on collision course with a cross section of the elder statesmen of the US ruling class including James Baker, the man responsible for ensuring that Bush's dubious election was upheld at the end of 2000.

Why Opposing Imperialism Means Supporting Resistance

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Sometimes there are strange coincidences in history. One occurred last month. George Bush made an official visit to Vietnam just as leading figures in his own Republican Party were saying that the Iraq war had indeed turned into the new Vietnam. The US was in danger of a repeat of the ignominious defeat it suffered 31 years ago, and had to find a way of getting out of the morass.

In both cases US imperialism overstretched itself, stirred massive opposition both in the occupied country and throughout the world, and faced the prospect of defeat as a hammer blow to its capacity to get its way globally.

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