A VOTE in the Senate of the United States on Saturday fell just four votes short of the two-thirds needed to debate a resolution condemning Republican President George Bush’s decision to immediately send 21,500 more American troops to Iraq. The vote was 56 to 34, with seven Republicans voting with the Democrats.
This followed Friday’s massive defeat for Bush in the House of Representatives, where 17 Republicans joined Democrats in a 246-to-148 vote for a non-binding resolution condemning Bush’s policy of escalating US military operations in Iraq. The President is demanding that Congress supports his request for emergency expenditure of $99 bn on the war.
As the alternative party of US imperialism, the Democrats are not suggesting a cut in funding for US forces, but will seek to amend the 2002 resolution authorising military action. They will propose that the role of the US military should be changed from a ‘combat mission to a support mission’, according to one Senator.
US imperialism is in a desperate crisis in Iraq. Bush’s new strategy of increasing troop numbers and eventually deploying 90,000 troops in Baghdad, in Operation Imposing Law launched last Wednesday, is the administration’s ‘last gasp’ attempt to salvage something from the Iraq war.
But only five days into the crackdown in Baghdad, launched by the US and puppet Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, 60 people were killed in the Iraqi capital in two car bombings on Sunday. This is the reply of the Iraqi resistance, both Sunnis and Shias, to Bush, Rice and company.
The resistance is driving forward to defeat the occupiers and re-establish Iraq’s independence. It is determined to defeat the latest US crackdown, like all the previous attempts by the occupation forces to establish a stable puppet regime, able to hand over the country’s oil resources.
The situation is desperate for the people of Iraq living under occupation. According to the United Nations, 650,000 Iraqis have been killed, the water, sanitation and electricity infrastructure has been wrecked, and five per cent of the people are living in ‘extreme poverty.
In addition, more than 3,100 US troops have been killed in Iraq since May 2003. Thousands of American families have seen their sons and daughters come home in body bags.
Last month, Bush made clear in his State of the Union Speech that the extra $99bn for the war will not come from higher taxes on the bosses of the arms manufacturers, construction firms, etc., that are making billions out of the war.
He said he would eliminate the Federal Budget deficit of $406bn over the next five years, by imposing ‘spending discipline in Washington DC’. He would ‘take on the challenge of entitlements’, referring to the Federal programmes of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
So not only are thousands of American youth being killed and maimed in the Iraq war, but the Bush regime is making the working class and the poor pay for this imperialist war, through cutting public spending and slashing entitlements to healthcare, education and welfare.
This has enraged millions in the US and it was reflected in the massive defeat suffered by Bush’s Republican Party in the Congressional elections last November.
The huge split running through the imperialist ruling class in the US, manifested in the votes in Congress, is not only the result of the failure of its military occupation in Iraq, but because of the huge movement of the working class against the onslaught launched by the Bush regime on its rights and living standards.
US workers, organised in a 14-million strong trade union movement, must use any means necessary, including mass strike action, to kick out the Bush regime, force the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, and defend living standards, welfare and healthcare entitlements.
The present manoeuvres of the Democrats in Congress show that they are unable to bring down the Bush regime. So it is clearly time for US workers to fight for their interests under their own banner, by building a Labor Party, based on the unions.
To bring down the Bush regime and go forward to a workers’ government, workers and youth in the US must build a section of the International Committee of the Fourth International to lead them in this revolutionary struggle for socialism.