US combat troops have been out of Iraq for only a week and already US generals are questioning President Obama’s judgement about whether the war is over, while the general in command in Afghanistan, Petraeus, has promised some straight talking about the Afghan withdrawal when he next meets his commander in chief.
Odierno says quite plainly that American troops may have to remain in Iraq, in force, beyond 2011.
The general told the world what was on his mind last Sunday when he said that a ‘complete failure’ of Iraqi security forces could oblige the United States to resume combat operations.
General Odierno said that while the ability of the Iraqi police and army to keep a lid on the violence was improving, he could not rule out a return to US combat missions if things went sour.
In fact the Iraqi commander in chief is on record as saying that US troops should stay in the country until 2020, when he judged Iraqi forces would be ready to take control.
General Zerbari said: ‘If I were asked about the withdrawal, I would say to politicians: the US army must stay until the Iraqi army is fully ready in 2020.’
Odierno, however, could not rule out the complete breakdown of the Iraqi military and the puppet political leadership, that Zerbari was hinting at.
He said: ‘If, for example, you had a complete failure of the Iraqi security forces. If you had some political divisions within the political forces that caused them to fracture, but we don’t see that happening.’
The US administration will have none of this. It insists that under a bilateral security pact all US forces must leave Iraq by the end of 2011.
Anthony Blinken, national security advisor for Vice President Joe Biden, suggested earlier this month that the US military presence in Iraq post-2011 could be just ‘dozens’ or ‘hundreds’ of troops under embassy authority.
Odierno also lashed out at Iran. He said: ‘I think they don’t want to see Iraq turn into a strong democratic country. They would rather see it become a weak governmental institution so they don’t make more problems for Iran in the future.’
He added that Iran is funding and training Shia extremists in Iraq in an effort to improve insurgents’ capabilities.
Meanwhile in Afghanistan, the number of US and NATO soldiers is set to peak at 150,000 in the coming weeks following orders from US President Barack Obama for an extra 30,000-troop ‘surge’, aimed at speeding the end of the war.
The commander of international forces, US General David Petraeus, however insists that there is a lot of work to do and that his troops have ‘turned the tide on the Taleban’s momentum’, but face tough battles that still lie ahead.
He played down the prospect of a rapid withdrawal of US troops next year, as decided by President Obama, insisting that the target of July 2011 was only a ‘date when a process begins’.
He explained: ‘July 2011 is the date when a process begins. It is not the date when the US forces begin an exodus and look for the exit and a light to turn out.’
It is clear that on Iraq, General Zerbari is right, and the Iraqi army and puppet administration is going to be shattered by the drive of the Iraqi masses to re-establish their sovereignty and independence.
In Afghanistan imperialism is heading for the same fate. In fact the defeat of the imperialists in Iraq and Afghanistan brings much closer their defeat at home at the hands of the working class, onto whom they are trying to impose the entire cost of the capitalist crisis.