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The Iraq Paradigm: Military, Economic and Political Tyranny

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By Mike Whitney
Al-Jazeerah, Jan 25, 2004

Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities, has the power to make you commit injustices - Voltaire

If Germany had invaded Iraq under the false pretense that Iraq posed an imminent threat to its national security, when no threat in fact existed, we can be reasonably certain that the US would have fielded an army and the necessary military hardware to expel Germany and imprison those who were responsible for the hostilities. It is doubtful that the US would ever accept the dubious claim that mere weapons, without the clear intention of a looming threat, were a legitimate justification for such an invasion. This is especially true given the strategic importance of Iraq’s oil resource to the world’s energy supply. (Not to mention the 9,000 innocent Iraqi’s that were killed in the fray.)

The reason we pose this hypothetical situation is to amplify the clear and irrefutable nature of the crime that was perpetrated against the defenseless and sovereign nation of Iraq. We are not concerned at all with the fact that the US now relies on aggression as the mainstay of its foreign policy, but simply that reasonable people can agree without any hesitation about the absolute criminality of the action itself. Substituting Germany for the US allows us to see in stark contrast how the invasion was unacceptable and the rationale supporting it was completely without merit.

The recent flurry of reports (The Carnegie Report, The War College Report, The Kay Report, and the comments of former Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O’Neill) further substantiates that the war was both unnecessary and unjust.

We should also inquire about the basic fairness of the economic model that the US is applying to Iraq. This model has escaped the attention of the American media, but provides an intriguing view of how the Bush Administration is handling its responsibilities as occupying power.

It is the responsibility of the US to make sure that all proceeds from natural gas and petroleum go into a development fund in the Central Bank of Iraq. (As per UN Resolution 1483) This was agreed upon by the US and the UN when the two parties were trying to decide how to protect revenue that rightfully belongs to the Iraqi people. The US has reneged on its part of the deal without notifying the UN, and is keeping all the proceeds in the Federal Reserve Bank. This cozy little arrangement developed without the appropriate international endorsement, and is a clear violation of the intention of the original resolution. It also suggests that the Federal Reserve may have been in on the original plans to invade Iraq, and put itself in an opportune position to benefit from the conflict.

Moreover, the acting chief of the CPA, Paul Bremer, has invoked Order 39, which allows for all state businesses to be privatized; (Presumably, sold to American corporations); tax free remittance of all funds associated with investment;( no taxes on profits or investment) and, “national treatment” of foreign firms (which means that preferential treatment can not be shown to home-grown businesses. This seriously undermines the ability of local businesses to compete with foreign firms)

The CPA (Paul Bremer) has instituted a 15% flat tax, even though unemployment is currently running at 70% and the tax is bound to hurt the few Iraqis that are actually working. Additionally, he has kept in place a Saddam era law that forbids the forming of unions, which insures that Iraq’s working class will be kept in abject poverty into the distant future.

This horrifying model of “capitalism gone crazy” is topped off by trade liberalization rules that abandon all tariffs, duties, import fees etc that are traditionally associated with developing countries. Iraq will not be able to slowly construct its own industrial capacity under this regimen. As is true with the other third world countries where these theories have been applied, Iraq will be deluged by cheaper foreign imports and their fledgling industrial base will falter. This phenomenon has been tried over and over again in the last 20 years, producing virtually the same results. It is a prescription for failure, as its architects are only too aware.

It is impossible to imagine a more cynical economic model. It assures that poverty will be both unavoidable and widespread. It also insures that much needed capital will flee the country and be deposited in capitals around the globe, doing nothing to help the struggling population. It is a form of economic tyranny that is the logical exponent of the military occupation, and no less cruel.

There are three things we can derive from this economic scheme;

That a considerable number of American corporations (mostly energy giants and banking establishments) must have been briefed on and approved of the plan to invade Iraq. The details of the economic model did not simply originate in response to the needs of the Iraqi people, but was first and foremost intended to disguise the wanton plundering of Iraq’s considerable wealth. That the plan required using the US Military to facilitate “resource acquisition” rather than in the interest of national security. The US Military has been reduced to a private security apparatus for the major American corporations. Again, these are the deductions that reasonable people would make if they followed the details of what is actually going on in Iraq. It is impossible to acknowledge these details and not simultaneously understand the sinister and self-serving intention behind their application. Whether we regard these activities as “free trade” or “trade liberalization” is immaterial, their overall effect is the systematic extraction of Iraq’s resources and wealth behind a mask of legitimacy. It’s just plain old colonialism with a few more warts.

So, we need to ask ourselves, if Germany had invaded Iraq claiming self defense and initiated a similar economic plan, would the US stand idly by and allow them to siphon off Iraq’s wealth under such a maniacal scheme?

We can be sure that Washington would never allow such an exploitative plan to go forward without a demonstration of force. And, they would have been justified, wouldn’t they?

Finally, we should ask ourselves; if Germany had installed their own provisional government in Iraq; by selecting members from an elite segment of the society (mostly repatriated Iraqis) would the US afford this Iraqi Governing Council any legitimacy?

This situation is further complicated by the manner in which the US wants to conduct elections. Viceroy Paul Bremer and his mentors in Washington are advocating a “caucus system” which is hopelessly flawed. The system calls for 18 caucuses whose votes will determine the future leadership of Iraq. What the US has tried to conceal, however, is that the various caucuses are “hand-picked” provisional assemblies (mainly ex-Ba’athists and Sunnis) whose loyalties are to the occupying power. (The US)

In other words, the US is sponsoring phony elections that will produce results that are already predetermined. (It would not surprise anyone if Adnan Pachachi, the pro-Western, businessman, who was trotted out during the State of the Union Speech, was the Bush Administration’s choice for the Iraqi presidency.) Far from the rhetoric, Bush and his cadres are working as hard as they can to subvert the democratic process in Iraq. The devious caucus system only goes to prove this point.

Interestingly, many pundits are beginning to predict that the hundreds of thousands of Shiites protesting in Baghdad are softening the Bush Administration’s attitude towards free elections. But, the protests will have no significant affect on the administration’s resolve and the UN is being drawn in to provide a convenient smoke screen for some type of electoral sham. There’s not even the remotest possibility that the administration will concede sovereignty to freely elected representatives and, thereby, jeopardize the ultimate control of Iraq’s petroleum. That simply won’t happen. Iraq’s liberation will be determined entirely by the outcome of the insurgency. (We should note that the CIA is warning of the growing prospects of civil war)

Once again, if this scenario of fraudulent elections was being engineered by Germany, we all know that the US would commit itself to immediate military action that would quickly remove Germany from power and hold its leaders accountable. Again, the double-standard is all too apparent.

So, on all three fronts; military, economic and political; the unilateral actions of the US have been entirely inexcusable. Many are convinced that what happened in Iraq was an illegal and unprovoked aggression against a defenseless victim. But, perhaps, too much attention has been paid to the war and not to the equally onerous aspects of the political and economic situation. It is the political and economic institutions that portend continuing deprivation and hardship for the Iraqi people, and it is the reliance on these institutions that reinforce the belief that the invasion was part of a much broader strategy of global hegemony and repression.

The Iraqi paradigm (political and economic) mirrors the core beliefs of its authors in the White House and Pentagon. It offers a clear example of how they intend to order the “New World”. We should not expect that there is some imaginary second plan; a “Plan B” where Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rove share power with the rest of us in some idyllic, democratic setting. No, this is the plan they are committed to, and there have been no measurable deviations so far.

Unfortunately, the world’s leaders are recoiling from this growing threat, the threat of US global domination through force of arms. Will it take another abortive election in the US to convince them how grave the situation really is? Or will they see the light when American troops are outside of Tehran?

At present, most of them seem reasonably compliant to the demands being foisted on them from Washington. They’ve given ground on everything from providing troops for Iraq, to surrendering their lethal arsenals, to increasing surveillance on their own citizens. Perhaps, they’ve acclimated themselves to the idea of living on George Bush’s earth.

Who said that coercion doesn’t work?

One thing is certain, though, judging by America’s falling numbers in the polls, the next generation of world leaders will emerge from that vast reservoir of hatred that is now directed exclusively towards the USA. That is always the predictable result of exporting war and injustice.

As for the rest of us, we should be looking for ways to consolidate our energies as the warmongering and surveillance intensifies. Defeatism is neither an option nor a workable strategy. Political alliances can shift for unanticipated reasons and with unforeseeable affects. Sometimes these events can be used to great benefit; sometimes the movement of one stone can bring down the whole tower. We can hope so.

Otherwise, our purpose should be broader and more magnanimous than just hiding from this growing menace. We should be resolved to reining it in and, yes, bringing the perpetrators to justice.
Tue Jan 27, 2004 5:03 pm
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