British Labour Left opposes Bush’s Iraq war escalation

From the weblog of John McDonnell, British Labour Member of parliament and opponent of Tony Blair:

The Vietnam Strategy Failed Once and in Iraq it will Fail Again

As predicted Bush has announced his troop surge strategy and there has been not a word from the Prime Minister or the Chancellor criticising this folly.

Instead we are told that there is a “symmetry” between the US and British military strategies.

I have to say that the only symmetry I see is the dreadful tragedy of virtually every Prime Minister’s Question Time being prefaced by the tributes to recent British casualties in Iraq and the sending of our heartfelt condolences to their families, with a similar tragic body count being undertaken in towns and cities across the US.

To counter any obvious assessments that an increase in US troops could lead to more British troops being sent to Iraq, the Government spin doctors have used this period to suggest that it is hoped that there will be some British troop withdrawals by the Summer.

The reality is more likely to be that the increase in US military activity will result in a corresponding increase in the pressure and demands placed upon British forces, with subsequent demands for an increase in the deployment of British troops.

Let me make it clear. Any increase in the use of British military forces must be authorised by Parliament and I am calling upon the leadership of the Labour party to give that commitment now.

In addition, if Blair and Brown sanction the increased use of British forces in Iraq, I will seek to obtain sufficient nominations from MPs to trigger an immediate leadership challenge.

We cannot stand by and allow Blair and Brown to put further lives at risk in our name without the membership of our party being given the opportunity to have its say.

My fear now is that the failure of Bush, Blair and Brown to make a serious attempt to engage in a diplomatic and peaceful resolution of the crisis in Iraq means that even when US and British troops are withdrawn the bloodbath will continue.

Why can’t Bush, Blair and Brown just learn from history?

The Vietnam strategy of pouring in more and more troops failed once and will fail again.

Blair’s Secretary Beckett‘s consents to Bush’s escalation.

Has the Labour left lost its Compass? Here.

British troops’ brutality in Iraq: here.

14 thoughts on “British Labour Left opposes Bush’s Iraq war escalation

  1. *LBJ then, Bush now*
    Posted by: “hapi22” robinsegg
    Thu Jan 11, 2007 3:12 pm (PST)
    This came to me as an e-mail, so I have no link, but I ask you to see if
    you notice any similarities between the claims and assertions of LBJ, in
    1967, during the Vietnam war, and GWBush now.


    What happened on January 10, 1967, 40 years ago yesterday? President
    Lyndon B. Johnson’s State of the Union
    address. The topic that dominated all others: Vietnam.

    Here are some excerpts of that address — exactly 40 years ago last
    night. See how it compares to some of the excerpts from President Bush’s
    speech that were just released:

    – – – – – – – –
    LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: We have chosen to fight a limited war in Vietnam in
    an attempt to prevent a larger war — a war almost certain to follow, I
    believe, if the Communists succeed in overrunning and taking over South
    Vietnam by aggression and by force. I believe, and I am supported by
    some authority, that if they are not checked now the world can expect to
    pay a greater price to check them later.

    GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: Tonight in Iraq, the Armed Forces of the United
    States are engaged in a struggle that will determine the direction of
    the global war on terror — and our safety here at home. The new
    strategy I outline tonight will change America’s course in Iraq, and
    help us succeed in the fight against terror.

    – – – – – – – –
    LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: I wish I could report to you that the conflict is
    almost over. This I cannot do. We face more cost, more loss, and more
    agony. For the end is not yet. I cannot promise you that it will come
    this year — or come next year. Our adversary still believes, I think,
    tonight, that he can go on fighting longer than we can, and longer than
    we and our allies will be prepared to stand up and resist.

    GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two
    principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to
    secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents.
    And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have.

    – – – – – – – –
    LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: Our South Vietnamese allies are also being tested
    tonight. Because they must provide real security to the people living in
    the countryside. And this means reducing the terrorism and the armed
    attacks which kidnaped and killed 26,900 civilians in the last 32
    months, to levels where they can be successfully controlled by the
    regular South Vietnamese security forces. It means bringing to the
    villagers an effective civilian government that they can respect, and
    that they can rely upon and that they can participate in, and that they
    can have a personal stake in. We hope that government is now beginning
    to emerge.

    GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: Only the Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and
    secure their people. And their government has put forward an aggressive
    plan to do it.

    – – – – – – – –
    LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: This forward movement is rooted in the ambitions and
    the interests of Asian nations themselves. It was precisely this
    movement that we hoped to accelerate when I spoke at Johns Hopkins in
    Baltimore in April 1965, and I pledged “a much more massive effort to
    improve the life of man” in that part of the world, in the hope that we
    could take some of the funds that we were spending on bullets and bombs
    and spend it on schools and production.

    GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military
    operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations
    are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and
    communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks
    it has announced.

    – – – – – – – –
    LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: We have chosen to fight a limited war in Vietnam in
    an attempt to prevent a larger war — a war almost certain to follow, I
    believe, if the Communists succeed in overrunning and taking over South
    Vietnam by aggression and by force. I believe, and I am supported by
    some authority, that if they are not checked now the world can expect to
    pay a greater price to check them later.

    GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: The challenge playing out across the broader Middle
    East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological
    struggle of our time. In the long run, the most realistic way to protect
    the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful
    ideology of the enemy — by advancing liberty across a troubled region.

    – – – – – – – –
    LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: A time of testing — yes. And a time of transition.
    The transition is sometimes slow; sometimes unpopular; almost always
    very painful; and often quite dangerous. But we have lived with danger
    for a long time before, and we shall live with it for a long time yet to
    come. We know that “man is born unto trouble.” We also know that this
    Nation was not forged and did not survive and grow and prosper without a
    great deal of sacrifice from a great many men.

    GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and
    grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck
    of a battleship. A democratic Iraq will not be perfect. But it will be
    a country that fights terrorists instead of harboring them — and it
    will help bring a future of peace and security for our children and
    – – – – – – – –

    Not much to add here — the words of Lyndon Johnson and George W. Bush
    pretty much speak for themselves.

    Two things, though. First of all, only 7,917 American troop had died in
    Vietnam through the end of 1966, or ten days before Johnson’s speech.
    >From the beginning of 1967 though the end of the war, an additional
    50,285 — more than six times as many — Americans would lose their

    Also, and we’re not endorsing this action by any means, then or now, but
    it is interesting to note that in that 1967 SOTU, LBJ also called for a
    6 percent surcharge on personal and corporate income taxes to pay for
    the cost of the war. That’s a level of responsibility — and yes,
    sacrifice — for war that our current president is unwilling to take.


  2. *Is That All There Is?*
    Posted by: “hapi22” robinsegg
    Thu Jan 11, 2007 4:18 pm (PST)
    Last night, Bush did NOT admit HE ever made a mistake in Iraq, or
    anywhere else for that matter.

    He acknowledged that mistakes were made — but only by other people —
    and he, being the “decent” guy he is will accept “responsibility” for
    THEIR mistakes .

    I am still waiting to hear George W, Bush say, “I made a mistake.”

    It’ll be a long wait.

    But you need to understand that Bush did NOT admit error by himself last
    night, only that OTHERS made errors.


    *Is That All There Is?*

    by Dan Froomkin
    The Washington Post
    January 11, 2007

    You Call That an Admission?

    Bush is getting a lot of ink today for reportedly having admitted that
    he made mistakes. It wasn’t much of an admission. What Bush said,
    specifically, was: “Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility
    rests with me.”

    That’s a step. But the restoration of Bush’s credibility on Iraq
    requires that he admit that he himself made mistakes, and explain what
    he’s learned from them.

    Instead, what he was saying last night was, basically: People who worked
    for me screwed up, and I’m jumping on the grenade. That sort of
    “admission” casts himself as heroic, rather than repentant.

    There was no acknowledgment that he himself had ever done anything
    wrong. There was no contrition, no remorse, no apology, no sense that he
    had learned anything from the experience, no reason to hope that he’ll
    make better decisions next time around.>>

    Read this at:


  3. GRIJALVA: “We need to get out of Iraq, and we need to stay out ofIra
    Posted by: “” citizen27106
    Thu Jan 11, 2007 9:52 pm (PST)


    1/11/07 – Congressman Grijalva submitted the following text to the Congressional Record in response to the escalation in Iraq:

    Madam Speaker, I believe this Congress has a mandate from the voters, to start bringing our troops home now. This is not an option to pursue at our leisure, this is a solemn obligation of absolute urgency. As we speak, preparations are being made to send more of our nation’s sons and daughters to Iraq, with or without our consent, and some are already there.

    A headline in today’s Financial Times states our predicament: “Congress is helpless only out of choice.”

    The Constitution gives this Congress, gives this new majority, if it chooses to exercise it, the power of the federal purse. No signing statement or political calculation can erase this hard fact, and if we choose to deny that we do have this power, we do a disservice to our Constitution, our constituents, and to this body.

    If this new Congress does not heed the voice of the people who elected this new majority it will be a failure of our democracy, and I think the people will be appropriately discouraged by this. To ignore this mandate is to risk not just a majority, but even worse, to heighten the cynicism of our country with regard to whether we truly have a democratic, responsive government.

    The escalation in Iraq announced by President Bush last night will only deepen our involvement in this debacle. Ultimately, this escalation is about keeping this nation tied down in Iraq beyond2008, because once those troops go to Iraq, the horse is out of the barn. Members of Congress that are serious about representing the will of the American people should make every effort to block this move, to pre-empt the President.

    The president’s speech last night was disheartening and disappointing. This President is utterly indifferent to the will of the people, the Congress, or even the very same generals whose authority he has exploited to cover his own mistakes.

    Congress must demand a better approach that is realistic and solution based. Someone should tell the President that the dire consequences he predicts for Iraq if we should withdraw are already with us, as a consequence of his own decisions. President Bush’s war of choice has created a sanctuary for terrorists. President Bush’s war of choice has empowered Iran in the region. President Bush’s war of choice has put American targets in front of Al-Qaeda and made their ranks overflow with new recruits. President Bush’s war of choice has decimated American influence and credibility in the region and the world.

    Only once we have gotten our troops out of harm’s way, and once we have demonstrated a commitment to make right with diplomacy and reconstruction what this President has torn asunder, can we attempt to implement the political solution among Iraqis that this crisis calls for.

    President Bush mentioned Iran last night in a very alarming context. In one breath he accused Iran of material participation in attacks against US soldiers, and in the next he announced the positioning of assets in the region which would enable the air strike on Iran that frightens the entire world and, I fear, seems increasingly likely.

    If we are serious about extricating this great nation from the regional quagmire that this President has created and that he seeks to enlarge, it seems that the time has come that we need to speak out. We need to get out of Iraq, and we need to stay out of Iran.

    Madam Speaker, this war is a financial, strategic and moral disaster for this nation. The military victory the President speaks of is a fantasy, but the costs to our nation and the violence in the region are real, and will only increase the longer our men and women remain in Iraq. We need to bring this sad misadventure to an end, and start bringing our troops home now.

    It pains me to recall that more than half the combat deaths in Vietnam came after it was already clear that the United States could not succeed. These soldiers died because the leaders of their country lacked the political courage to face reality, feared losing face, and feared admitting their mistakes. This is one of the great tragedies of our history, and we risk repeating this moral error by keeping our troops in Iraq.

    The American people clearly expressed their view on Iraq in the last election, and the policy still has not changed.

    But I still believe that the people of this country have the will and the spirit to restore true democracy to our foreign policy. I hope they will keep up this fight, because the lives of our men and women in uniform depend on it.

    Thank you. Madam Speaker .


  4. Iraq vets, Cindy Sheehan, Chomsky tell Bush: Out of Iraq Now!
    Posted by: “Charles Jenks” chaspeace
    Fri Jan 12, 2007 3:20 am (PST)
    Iraq Vets, Cindy Sheehan, Chomsky and others tell
    Bush: U.S. Troops Out of Iraq Now!

    “BUSH’S POLICY in Iraq is: when in a hole, dig
    deeper,” says Anthony Arnove, author of Iraq: The
    Logic of Withdrawal and initiating signatory of a
    widely circulated online statement demanding immediate
    withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. “Sending more
    troops to Iraq will not stem civil war, but only lead
    to more needless deaths of Iraqis and of U.S.
    soldiers. Only 11 percent of the U.S. public supports
    Bush’s call for more troops. A strong majority want to
    bring them home, which is why it is urgent we all
    descend on Washington, DC, January 27 to send a
    message to the White House and to the new Congress to
    bring the troops home NOW—not in 2008, or 2010, or

    Contact Arnove or statement co-signatory Kelly
    Dougherty, Executive Director of Iraq Veterans Against
    the War at the phone numbers above. To see the
    statement, go to “Why we stand for immediate
    withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq” at

    Initiating signatories include:

    Ali Abunimah
    Gilbert Achcar
    Author, Clash of Barbarisms
    Michael Albert
    Tariq Ali
    Author, Bush in Babylon
    Anthony Arnove
    Author, Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
    Noam Chomsky
    Author, Hegemony or Survival
    Kelly Dougherty
    Executive Director, Iraq Veterans Against the War*
    Eve Ensler
    Playwright, The Vagina Monologues
    Eduardo Galeano
    Author, The Open Veins of Latin America
    Rashid Khalidi
    Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies
    Columbia University
    Camilo Mejía
    First Iraq War resister to refuse redeployment
    Arundhati Roy
    Author, God of Small Things
    Cindy Sheehan
    Gold Star Families for Peace, mother of
    Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, killed in Iraq
    Howard Zinn
    Author, A People’s History of the United States

    * for identification purposes only


  5. All Roads to Iran
    Posted by: “Corey” cpmondello
    Fri Jan 12, 2007 9:10 am (PST)

    All Roads to Iran

    By Jon Soltz Chairman, and Iraq War Veteran

    Why? That is what I have been asking myself all week. Why are we going to escalate the war in Iraq?

    Twenty thousand more troops in Iraq won’t secure Iraq, and probably not even Baghdad. The numbers are so simple, I can’t believe that politicians are even willing to risk their careers for a security mission that can’t be accomplished.

    When I served in Kosovo, we protected a Serbian church for six months. We had 40,000 troops to protect 200,000 Serbs that needed our protection. That is a ratio of 1 soldier for every 5 civilians. In Iraq, escalating the war from 130,000 troops to 150,000 troops will do little to secure a country of 26 million.

    Full story;


  6. .
    *A plan with no real consequences*
    Posted by: “hapi22” robinsegg
    Fri Jan 12, 2007 9:38 am (PST)
    When my children were very little and reluctant to do what I wanted them
    to do, all I had to do was start counting : one … two … three …
    and they would hop to it.

    Later, as they got older, they caught on to the game, and I had to ramp
    up the “threat” …. I would say IF you don’t do what I say by the time
    I count to five ….

    Soon, they learned to wait to see what would happen when I got to “five”
    …. so I had to go: one … two … three … four … four and a half
    …. four and three quarters ….

    Well, that is exactly what is going on with Bush’s Plan ‘A’ for Iraq.

    If the Iraqi Prime Minister doesn’t do what Bush has said he must, Bush
    will …..

    Will what?

    We don’t know … Bush won’t say … Condoleezza Rice won’t say … Sec.
    of Defense Gates won’t say.

    Bush’s threats are as empty threats as my counting to four and three
    quarters was — and will have about the same result.

    Maliki will just wait to see what happens when Bush gets to “four and
    three quarters.”

    Maliki HAS to know what the consequences will be if he fails to act.

    My children learned.

    I fined them (Did you ever try to collect a “fine” from a

    Bush’s idea of “consequences” for Maliki is to have a hissy fit and
    then blame the American public for being unwilling to make the necessary
    “sacrifices” to “create democracy” in Iraq
    Oh, and Bush’s tears, yesterday, at the medal ceremony for the slain
    Marine? What were the tears all about? Certainly NOT for the fallen
    Marine … the tears were for himself and his failing fortunes and
    falling popularity.

    Bush doesn’t give a damn about the soldiers and marines he has sent to
    Iraq for his own vanity; he cares only for his own sense of entitlement
    to rule the world.


    *A plan with no real consequences

    by Tim Grieve
    Jan. 11, 2007

    At a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee this
    afternoon, representatives from both sides of the aisle tried to get
    Defense Secretary Robert Gates to answer the same question members of
    the Senate Foreign Relations Committee put repeatedly to Condoleezza
    Rice this morning: What happens if the Iraqi government doesn’t live up
    to the latest round of promises it has made?

    Gates was a little more forthcoming than Rice — she refused to discuss
    “Plan B” at all — but that doesn’t mean that he ever really answered
    the question.

    If the administration believes that the Iraqis aren’t doing what they’ve
    promised, Gates said that the United States would “go back at them hard
    in terms of the commitments they made.”

    What does “go back at them hard” mean? Gates said he meant that the
    United States would be “reminding them of their commitments” — a
    “diplomatic and political response” to Iraqi leaders in Baghdad.

    What if that doesn’t work? “We would have to look at the strategy,”
    Gates said. And what does that mean? “We’d have to decide at the time,”
    he said. As Rice did this morning, Gates said that it would be wrong to
    talk about the failure of the new strategy before it has a chance to

    What Gates and Rice won’t acknowledge is that the idea of having
    benchmarks — or real ones, anyway — is necessarily premised on the
    notion that there will be consequences if the benchmarks aren’t met. The
    consequences aren’t something you think up down the line once the plan
    has failed; they’re an integral part of the plan in the first place.

    A lot of members Of Congress might go along with Bush’s new plan if it
    had some hard-and-fast on-and-off switches — if it involved telling the
    Iraqis that they’ve got to do this, that and the other thing by some
    specified date in the near future, or else the American troops will be
    leaving them to fend for themselves. The president would probably like
    the public to think that’s what his plan does. But that’s not the plan
    Rice and Gates have been selling today. If the benchmarks in Bush’s plan
    have dates associated with them, Rice and Gates aren’t saying what they
    are. And if there’s any predetermined consequence for failing to meet
    them, we certainly haven’t heard anyone say what they might be.

    Bush said last night that his commitment to Iraq is not open-ended. What
    he seems to have meant is that he’ll go with his new strategy until it
    doesn’t work, and then he’ll start thinking about what might come next.
    That’s not a plan. It’s a ploy to put off what seems like the

    Read this at:


  7. Nightmare: *Iraq escalation benefits only Jeb Bush*
    Posted by: “hapi22” robinsegg
    Fri Jan 12, 2007 10:22 am (PST)
    Bush is NOT trying to solve the terrorism problem OR end the bloody war
    in Iraq.

    He is positioning Jeb Bush to win the White House in 2008, so that there
    will be a permanent Bush regime in America.



    *Iraq escalation benefits only Jeb Bush*

    by margieburns
    Margie Burns blog
    Jan.11, 2007


    Senator McCain presents as someone who figures it’s his turn, per
    generally the way GOP presidential nominations work — the next man in
    line steps up, wins the nomination usually without too much difficulty,
    and then wins or loses the general election. The occasional exception
    like Barry Goldwater is characterized for a generation in party lore as
    someone who tore the party apart and then went on to lose the
    presidential election in a landslide. McCain is showing his loyalty in
    spades to the Bush team, to the Oval Office. But only some obliviousness
    to history would predict that his loyalty will be repaid with unstinting
    support by Team Bush.

    There can be no happy Iraq outcome for McCain. If things get worse –
    the overwhelming probability – then even he will be forced to bail on
    the policy at some point, and the question will always be why he did not
    do so earlier, saving more lives; why he did not put his independent
    power base to better use. He will be associated with, and he is
    aggressively associating himself with, catastrophe. If things were by
    some miracle to get better, the Iraq War is still Bush’s war. Meanwhile,
    Governor Jeb Bush sits comfortably by in Florida, in relative political
    safety in spite of Mark Foley, the sugar growers, his family’s several
    run-ins with the law, the ecological disaster in the Everglades, and the
    ongoing election fraud in Florida. Jeb Bush is not tied to Iraq policy;
    he has no son in Iraq; he is not storming the country in support of
    Bush’s escalation.

    White House Iraq policy at this point, in other words, may be guided by
    desire to help Jeb win next time. This is the only perspective from
    which the escalation makes even bad sense.

    Of course, a plausible alternative explanation is that it makes no sense
    at all — that it is merely Bush’s vain effort to prolong the war, which
    is what he cares about most, while his cronies with both hands in the
    cookie jar frantically extract their utmost.>>

    Read this at:


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