Another year, another May Day, reminding me that I still haven’t got round to my long-planned posts on the erosion of workers’ rights under the present (and for that matter the preceding) government.
In the short term, though, the most important historical fact about May 1 is that it’s the anniversary of Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech on Iraq in 2003. When I wrote about this anniversary last year, I observed
the anniversary of Bush declaration of victory looks as good a time as any to date what seems increasingly certain to be a defeat [at least for the policies that have been pursued for the last year] … The Administration seems to be inching towards the position Iâ€™ve been advocating for some time â€“ dumping the policies of Bremer and Chalabi (though not, unfortunately Bremer and Chalabi themselves), and handing over real military power to Iraqis. If the interim (still inchoate) government has substantial real power, manages to hold early elections and can get enough support to permit a rapid US withdrawal, the outcome might not be too bad. But thereâ€™s very little time left, and this scenario assumes exceptionally skilful management of the situation from now on.
How do things look a year later? Bremer is gone, thankfully, and I doubt that there’s anyone left who would suggest that the Coalition Provisional Administration he ran was anything better than a set of incompetent bunglers who achieved less than nothing. Chalabi, by contrast, seems to be the eternal survivor, . The Americans dumped him after all, but he promptly switched sides and has popped up as some sort of Deputy Prime Minister in the new Iraqi government and looks set to get the lucrative oil ministry he’s been after for so long..
The last year has been a series of disasters, the only bright spot being the elections. If these had been held in 2003, as was perfectly feasible, the insurgency might never have got properly off the ground, and a US withdrawal might already be under way. But Bremer and Bush, with the almost unanimous support of the pro-war commentariat and blogosphere, killed this proposal, trying to push an absurd plan for rigged regional caucuses designed to set up a Chalabi government. When Chalabi fell from favour they turned over power to Saddam’s former secret agent, Allawi, whose interim government was a waste of space, little better than the CPA it replaced.
Now, three months after the elections, Iraq finally has an elected government (almost). The good news is that Allawi has been kept out. The bad news is that PM Jaafari has reneged on his campaign commitment to demand a timetable for US withdrawal. This is understandable, given that the insurgents are trying their best to kill him and his supporters. But it ought to be obvious by now that the US occupation is providing more fresh recruits for the insurgents than the Americans can kill or incapacitate. They’ll pull out sooner or later, and the situation will be even worse than it is now. The best chance is a clear commitment that the occupation will end in a defined period of time.
PS: Rereading the comments on last year’s post, I note that Bush has declared May 1 as Loyalty Day. Readers based in the US might want to consider their position before making comments that might be construed by the Administration as ‘disloyal’ (Hat tip Richard Jones).
PPS (this is getting like Kausfiles): It turns out that Loyalty Day has been around for many years, but the President has to announce it every year.
fn1. On reflection, my doubts are ill-founded. A substantial number of supporters of the war still believe (or did until recently) that the US discovered weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and numerous right-wing bloggers were making claims along these lines up to and beyond the publication of the Duelfer report. So of course there will be plenty to claim that the CPA inaugurated an era of peace and prosperity, a fact concealed from general view only because of the MSM conspiracy to publish only bad news about Iraq.
fn2. Bush may well want to ‘stay the course’. But, on current indications, he’ll be out of office before the insurgency is defeated, and a lame duck well before that.