The writer is a student leader at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

The New York Times reported on Dec. 5 that 4,000 to 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq have been “shifted” out of combat and into positions as trainers of Iraqi military units. The Bush administration claims that this move will strengthen the Iraqi army and help them become self sufficient sooner. They say it will help them stem the tide of violence raging throughout Iraq.

The Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group has said this tactic should be vastly expanded. The ISG report, released on


U.S. occupying soldiers are now more actively “advising” the Iraqi army.

Dec. 6, advises the U.S. government to reduce troop levels in Iraq and allocate 20,000 U.S. soldiers to train and expand the Iraqi army.

Whether or not this ISG recommendation is adopted fully by Bush and the Pentagon remains to be seen, but the repositioning of troops to a small degree has already begun. It is an attempt by the Bush administration to show it is making “progress” and getting closer to the time when U.S. troops can leave Iraq.

In reality, it is just a smoke screen to hide the U.S. government’s true objectives. Washington wants to attempt to salvage the occupation from suffering a total defeat at the hands of the heroic Iraqi resistance.

This tactic may lead to some strengthening of Iraqi military units, which could lead eventually to a reduction in U.S. troop levels. But by no means does it even hint at the end of the colonial occupation of Iraq. The United States is currently fortifying a massive embassy in downtown Baghdad—a clear signal the imperialists plan to play a major role in any Iraqi government that emerges.

The reality surrounding the Iraqi military and the Iraqi government that purportedly controls it is well documented. The Iraqi government, led by Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, is not a true national government; rather, it is a collection of relatively strong political factions propped up by the United States.

All of the factions who lead the Iraqi puppet government have spheres of influence within the military. In turn, the Iraqi military, along with Iraqi police forces, has become a conduit of information to many of the death squads. It has had a hand in directing and promoting sectarian conflict. But it has also been infiltrated by forces that resist the U.S. occupation.

By strengthening the Iraqi military and reshuffling the whereabouts of U.S. occupying troops, the U.S. government intends to strengthen the political factions that are aligned, however loosely, with the United States. It wants to shift the burden to Iraqis to repress all organizations and individuals that the U.S. government views as enemies.

No justice, no peace

Will the U.S. maneuvers bring about “peace” and “stability” in Iraq? No.

They will likely increase the violence the U.S. government claims it wants to quell. Emboldened political sectors aligned with the United States will be given better arms and tasked with suppressing all anti-imperialist or dissenting opinions.

The imperialists have tried this tactic many times before, most notably in Vietnam with Nixon’s much-vaunted “Vietnamization” of the war. It failed then, mainly because the overwhelming majority of the Vietnamese people opposed the U.S. war of aggression against their country. It will ultimately fail in Iraq too.

Training Iraqi forces and continuing to prop up a phony government that does not represent the will of the Iraqi people will lead undoubtedly to more bloodshed and misery for the Iraqi people. No U.S.-backed government or army can ever bring “peace” to the people of Iraq.

Institutions created and supported by the occupying power are not representative of the country’s people. Moving the occupiers into an “advisory” role does not represent a policy change. The goals and outcomes remain the same. Only the tactics change.

Bush’s move, which could be enhanced by the ISG’s recommendations, is a cynical attempt to make cosmetic changes in the hopes of mollifying anti-occupation sentiment in Iraq, the United States and around the world.

Moving U.S. troops into combat training positions only strengthens a number of political factions that will do what the imperialists say. Progressives and anti-imperialists in the United States must oppose attempts to make the brutal and criminal occupation of Iraq permanent.

We must demand full withdrawal of all U.S. forces immediately and without condition. Only an Iraq free from the pressures of foreign domination can begin to heal the great wounds created by the imperialist war and occupation.