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Iraq's Day Will Dawn Again
July 1, 2003
By Jack Smith
Posted via Jack Smith's Mid-Hudson Activist Newsletter, July 1, 2003, Issue #86 part 1
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1. THE CIVILIAN DEATH TOLL IN IRAQ . The White House won't tell you, but
we have some convincing estimates.
2. IRAQ'S DAY WILL DAWN AGAIN . The events taking place in Baghdad and
Washington regarding the occupation of Iraq are extraordinarily complex
and important. The entire situation, which contains a lot more elements
than meet the eye, may well blow up in the Bush administration's face.
This quite lengthy article attempts to identify and analyze the
interconnecting issues in order to understand what's really happening.
What is the nature of the guerrilla struggle against the occupation? Who
are the Shi'ites and will they ultimately rebel? How about the Kurds,
and the Sunnis? To what extent are U.S. troops mistreating the civilian
population? Will the occupation become a complete fiasco for the United
States? And what is George Bush's real plan for Iraq and the entire
3. HE NEVER GOT THE EVIDENCE . The Bush administration tried to convince
a leading American general to lend his name to charges that Saddam
Hussein was connected to the Sept. 11 attacks. He was willing, but
asked for some evidence that the allegations were true. They never got
back to him, and we bet it wasn't because they lost is phone number.
4. EXPERT DOUBTS CHARGE AGAINST CUBA . Cuba, too, has been falsely
accused of possessing weapons of mass destruction and named as a
possible U.S. target. Now it turns out that the high State Department
official who made the charge sought to pressure a key department
intelligence analyst into backing his falsehood. The analyst didn't,
and just blew the whistle to a Senate committee.
5. WASHINGTON NEEDS A COLONIAL OFFICE . A disarmingly honest
conservative comes up with an idea whose time has come.
1. THE CIVILIAN DEATH TOLL IN IRAQ
How many Iraqi civilians have been slaughtered by the U.S.-British
invasion force since the Bush administration launched its "preemptive"
war in March? Reliable unofficial sources project a figure of many
thousands, but both the White House and the Pentagon refuse to answer
this question, though each surely has made a fairly accurate internal
According to Gen. Tommy Franks, "We don't do body counts." He was
echoed by Secretary of State Colin Powell soon after the combat ended in
April: "We really don't know how many civilian deaths there have
been." This, at least, is a more diplomatic evasion than Gen. Powell
offered in 1991, when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
during Iraq War I. "It's really not a number I'm terribly interested
in," he told reporters when queried at the time.
Washington won't even admit it has any idea of the number of Iraqi
soldiers who have been killed. Navy Capt. Frank Thorp, the chief
military spokesman at Central Command headquarters in the Middle East,
provided the New York Times with this rehearsed soundbite in April: "We
cannot look at combat as a scorecard." The task of estimating enemy
dead, he continued, is "too time-consuming and, frankly, too risky."
Such an explanation must be unique in the annals of warfare. The
Council on Foreign Relations published its own estimate at the end of
June: up to 10,000 Iraqi soldiers died, compared to just over 200 GIs.
The Bush administration, in our opinion, is concealing the civilian
total because it is quite high. And it won't reveal the military figure
because it is so disproportionately large compared to U.S.-British dead
that it would convey the impression that the conflict was absurdly
one-sided, which, of course, being a bully's war of aggression, it was.
In the absence of official cooperation, the Associated Press conducted a
survey of its own. The mid-June issue of Editor & Publisher, the trade
publication of the newspaper industry, carried this account of the wire
"Using a rigorous methodology, seven AP reporters in Iraq over a period
of five weeks reviewed dozens of documents from 60 of Iraq's 124
hospitals, covering the period from March 20, the war's beginning, to
April 20, when the fighting abated. The tally: 3,240 civilians died
throughout the country, with 1,896 of those in Baghdad alone. But AP
referred to these totals as 'still fragmentary' with the likely figure
AP, of course, only counted the deaths of civilians recorded in the
surveyed hospitals during a one-month period. This does not include
civilians (1) who may have died at other hospitals, (2) who were buried
immediately by their families, (3) who were blown to pieces and could
not be buried, (4) who died since April 20, and (5) who will die due to
earlier wounds or to diseases that are a direct result of the invasion
and occupation. In addition, the AP figures cannot calculate the many
future civilian deaths that are inevitable due to contamination from
depleted uranium and to unexploded munitions, especially the hundreds of
thousands of "coalition" cluster bombs scattered throughout the region.
A nonprofit organization, Iraq Body Count, has been conducting its own
highly detailed survey, based on press reports, of Iraqi civilians
killed by U.S.-British crusaders from Jan. 1 until July 2 and arrived at
a maximum total of 7,653. The organization's website,
www.iraqbodycount.net, contains an extensive database and other
informative material. This count is incomplete because many civilian
deaths have not been recorded in the mass media, but it may be the most
thorough count so far. Our guess, which we consider conservative, is
"probably around 10,000."
This means that probably 20,000 Iraqis have been killed (so far, and
there's plenty more to come) and a country destroyed because of weapons
of mass destruction and a connection with 9/11 that never existed.
Obtaining accurate figures of Iraqi civilians wounded in the conflict is
virtually impossible. It must be huge. The AP reported in April that
"The number of casualties in Baghdad is so high that hospitals have
stopped counting the number of people treated." The International
Committee of the Red Cross said at the same time that "No one is able to
keep accurate statistics of the admitted and transferred war wounded any
longer as one emergency arrival follows the other in the hospitals of
2. IRAQ'S DAY WILL DAWN AGAIN
By Jack A. Smith, July 1, 2003
It's going to be an exceptionally long, hot summer for the U.S. army of
occupation in Baghdad and the Bush administration in Washington. After
three weeks of high-tech war and nearly 12 weeks of a postwar occupation
characterized by low-tech bungling and bullying, this article will
attempt to connect the various elements presently at play in both
In Baghdad, the average high temperature in July and August is 110
degrees, but the most searing heat emanates from . the low-intensity but
politically volatile guerrilla war waged against the occupation forces
by Arab Sunnis and their allies in central Iraq; . sharp disagreements
with U.S. occupation policy and the possibility of a revolt by the
majority Shi'ites in the south; . the contradictions inherent in Kurdish
intentions in the north; and . popular antagonism toward an occupying
force seemingly incapable of restoring the electrical and water supplies
or of observing basic proprieties toward a subject people and their
In Washington, the muggy heat of summer is irrelevant compared to the
crisis confronting the White House deriving from . the unexpectedly
fierce opposition to the Pentagon's occupation and the mounting
coalition death toll; . the collapse of plans for the speedy
establishment of a puppet government responsive to the U.S. colonial
administration; . the inability to capture deposed President Saddam
Hussein or halt the continuing struggle against the occupation by
elements of the now banned former ruling Ba'ath Party; and . the
gathering domestic political storm emanating from the absence of proof
to substantiate pre-invasion claims of Iraq's possession of weapons of
mass destruction and the alleged connection between the Baghdad
government and the Sept. 11 attacks.
Despite its facade of triumphalism, the Bush administration is deeply
worried. It cannot afford to "lose" Iraq. The successful subjugation of
the country provides the U.S. with control of a significant portion of
the world's petroleum reserves and a launching pad for the political
reorganization of the entire Middle East to facilitate the extension of
American hegemony. Failure in Iraq would not only undermine this
strategic objective but could destroy prospects for the reelection of
President Bush and his neo-conservative government.
As of July 1, two dozen American and six British soldiers have been
killed by the resistance since President Bush proclaimed combat to be
over May 1, and scores more have died in other circumstances. The
Defense Department rarely mentions new attacks unless occupation
personnel are killed or seriously wounded. According to a most reliable
source, however, "there may be as many as a dozen attempted attacks per
The Pentagon insists that the guerrillas are disorganized, die-hard
remnants of the overthrown regime or "pockets of dead-enders," as though
Iraqi society was bereft of national sentiment, patriots and leftists
who may have taken up arms in opposition to foreign aggression. The
anti-occupation insurgency is in its very early stages and appears to be
composed of organized and local elements, small but growing. Three new
combat groups have already announced their presence: "Return," "Popular
Resistance for the Liberation of Iraq," and "Mujahedin of the Victorious
Sect," and more are on the way.
Posturing as usual, President Bush responded to the insurgency July 2 by
declaring, "There are certain people there who would like to run us out
of there, create conditions where we get nervous and decide to leave.
But we're not leaving.... Bring 'em on! We've got the force necessary to
deal with the security situation."
Adding to administration concerns are new opinion polls indicating
public support for the war is waning, mainly due to continuing Iraqi
resistance and to questions about whether President Bush told the truth
about weapons of mass destruction. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll showed
that the percentage of Americans who thought "the situation in Iraq was
worth going to war over" dropped from 76% in April to 56% today, a
substantial decline. Another poll by the University of Maryland's
Program on International Policy Attitudes determined that 62% of the
people believed the Bush administration was either "stretching the truth
but not making false statements" (52%) or "presenting evidence they knew
was false" (10%).
As conceived, the plan for subordinating Iraq was elegantly simple. It
began with the premise that the U.S. is big and powerful, with a
population manipulated psychologically by fear and fabrication into
supporting a war of aggression, while Iraq is small, weak, essentially
defenseless and rent with easily exploitable political, ethnic and
Victory was to be swift and certain, starting with a massive "shock and
awe" display of the world's most technically efficient death machine.
Several elements of the Pentagon plan worked remarkably well. For
example, commanding Gen. Tommy Franks revealed recently that the U.S.
was successful in bribing several key Iraqi generals into surrendering
their troops without a fight, paving the way for an unexpectedly swift
entry into Baghdad.
But several important elements of Washington's design for conquest were
fulfilled only in part or failed. President Hussein was supposed to be
killed the first day, but he escaped. The occupation government intended
to deftly resume essential services and have Iraq up and running in a
few weeks, but this has proved to be an embarrassing illusion. Efforts
to convince the Iraqi people that they were liberated, not conquered,
have obviously gone awry. A campaign to disarm the population didn't
work. The scheme to establish a "democratic" government composed of
Iraqi political exiles long in Uncle Sam's pocket and elements whose
loyalty could be purchased, has run into serious obstacles. The schedule
for privatizing the Iraqi economy has been delayed until the guerrilla
fighting ends and the political dispute over popular governance is
Victory was doubtless swift, but hardly certain. Unforeseen by the Bush
regime was the refusal of the Iraqi people . regardless of their various
attitudes toward the Hussein government . to meekly acquiesce in
subordinating their country's hard-fought independence and national
sovereignty to the modern Crusader in the White House. Consequently, a
much prolonged, repressive occupation has become a probability.
The guerrilla struggle, at this point largely confined to central Iraq
where the minority Sunni Muslims live, is not yet the Bush
administration's greatest worry, although it could become so should the
armed insurgency spread to the south, where the Shi'ite majority (60% of
Iraq) resides. The Sunnis (who constitute a majority in the Muslim
world), have traditionally been favored by Iraq's rulers throughout the
Ottoman and British empires and after independence as well by the
Ba'athist government. Even more problematic for the White House is the
disposition of the Shi'ite Muslim community, not just because it is the
majority but because many Shia Muslims have a strong attraction to
neighboring non-Arab Iran, home to the world's largest Shi'ite
While Washington depicts its seizure of Baghdad as motivated by a desire
to democratize the country, it fears that if the Shi'ites exercise power
in proportion to their voting numbers Iraq will fall under Iranian
influence . a disaster from the Bush administration's point of view
because this would infinitely complicate administration plans for
hegemony. Even worse is the fear that the secular Iraq to which the
Ba'ath Party was dedicated might become transformed into an Islamic
religious state. Reflecting this view, New York Times corespondent
Nicholas D. Kristof wrote from Basra June 24 that "an iron curtain of
fundamentalism risks falling over Iraq."
Many Shi'ites, who experienced repression from the Iraqi government,
seemed to welcome the downfall of Saddam Hussein but have no intention
of allowing Iraq to become an American colony. Several Shia leaders have
spoken forcefully against the occupation and have expressed fears that
the U.S.-British crusaders plan to remain in Iraq for a prolonged
period. They also made it clear soon after the invasion that they had no
confidence in Washington's preference for a largely exile-based
government led by the Pentagon's favorite, banker Ahmed Chalabi, a shady
character with hardly any support in his home country. The main Shi'ite
organization, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq
(SCIRI), further announced it would not join such a government.
The Kurds in the north, who still envision an eventually independent
Kurdistan composed of Kurds in Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria, are
non-Arab Sunnis long at odds with the Baghdad government. They have
enjoyed autonomy in the north and protection from Washington since the
end of the first Iraq war, a status which enabled them to obtain a
disproportionatly large share of the revenue from the UN's oil-for-food
program. Iraqi Kurds long ago split into two antagonistic and at times
warring factions, each in control of territory. Anticipating potential
postwar difficulties with the Arab Sunnis and Shi'ites, who appear to
distrust Kurd intentions, the two factions agreed to merge June 13 to
strengthen Kurdish influence in any new government. Their particular
demand is that they be granted autonomy within a federal state,
including "an internal self-defense force." The Kurds share with the
SCIRI and other political forces a suspicion that the U.S. is seeking to
delay creation of a new Iraqi government.
Almost all of Iraq's political groupings oppose the U.S. plan to form a
political council composed of up to 30 Iraqi leaders to be
"democratically" selected by Paul Bremer, now in effect the viceroy in
charge of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) which governs Iraq.
This council would function as an advisory body to the CPA and could
even nominate ministers for the occupation government, again with
Bremer's approval, and have some input in creating a new constitution.
The formation of an Iraqi-run government is supposed to take place in
the undefined future.
The Chalabi-led Iraqi National Congress, the umbrella group with which
most of the exile organizations associate, plus virtually all other
Iraqi political groups, fear that the council will become a substitute
for an indigenous government. The Iraqi groups support the idea of
forming their own provisional government in the near future during the
occupation. Abu Hatem, a Shi'ite guerrilla leader who conducted a long
struggle against the Baghdad regime, told the British daily Independent
June 27 that "any program for reconstruction without an interim Iraqi
government will fail."
In an important development June 30, Iraq's highest ranking Shi'ite
leader, Ayatollah Ali Sistani . a presumed "moderate" . termed the CPA
plan for drafting a constitution "unacceptable." He insisted that only
an Iraqi-elected conclave should draft a constitution, followed by a
national referendum to accept or reject the draft. Of the two trends
within Shi'ite Islam, Sistani is associated with the "Orthodox" segment
which separates the clergy from politics, as opposed to the more
politically activist "Sadr" branch, which leans toward the Iranian
system of political involvement. His intervention on the constitutional
question is unusual and unites all Iraqi Shias on an important political
issue in opposition to Washington's preferences.
The question of the new government has become a headache for the Bush
administration. Its rhetoric about liberation and democracy, which was
intended to convert an illegal act of aggression into a humanitarian
gesture, cannot now be reversed at whim. At the same time, Washington
has every intention of exercising control over any future Iraqi
government and constitution in order to profit from its substantial
investment in war, occupation and reorganizing the country. Considering
that there is an insurgency in the Sunni center of the country, coupled
with remaining support for the Hussein government, plus the peculiar
political requirements of the Kurds in the north, and the potential for
rebellion in the Shi'ite south, the U.S. seeks to delay formation of an
elected government until it is convinced such an entity will conform to
Washington's long range interests.
The U.S. has taken a number of steps in recent weeks to prevent the
occupation from turning into a complete fiasco. The two most important
Incidentally, the money for this operation is not necessarily being paid
by the U.S. Treasury. The CPA is financing some of its projects with
$100 million from Iraqi funds seized by the U.S. or removed from Baghdad
banks. As time goes on, the Bush administration intends to pay much of
the occupation and rebuilding costs from Iraqi oil revenues, now that
the sanctions have been scrapped. The rebuilding alone is estimated to
cost $100 billion, most of which will go to American companies,
principally those that contribute generously to Republican Party
election campaign coffers. It is assumed that Iraq will also finance a
planned American-trained and controlled 40,000-member Iraqi army and a
new police force, likewise responsible to U.S. overseers. American
taxpayers presumably will cover the up to $100 billion a year costs of
keeping a large occupation force in the Middle East.
- The launching of several large-scale search and destroy missions to
locate Iraqis who sympathize with the incipient insurgent movement . a
maneuver which so far has produced little more than a substantial
increase in popular resentment. The biggest raid started June 29 when
thousands of GIs participated in simultaneous raids in 20 Iraqi towns,
terrorizing thousands of civilians when they barged into their homes at
2 a.m., tying up and putting hoods over untold numbers of people.
Commanders freely told the press that the operations, so suggestive of
Vietnam-era practices, were intended to frighten the Iraqi people into
obedience. "We want to send a message . don't mess with us!" exclaimed
Lt. Col. Aubry Garner. The marauders managed to confiscate a relatively
small number of arms over several days and made hundreds of arrests,
Interviewed by the press while the anti-civilian roundups were taking
place, Bremer said the raids proved "We're certainly not panicked" by
the guerrilla actions and that "We're not going to get deflected from
our direction by an attack now and then." The viceroy also indicated the
campaign to capture the Iraqi leader was being accelerated under the
assumption that his apprehension or death would deflate the armed
The buying-off of potential opponents. After abruptly disbanding the
Iraqi army and tossing soldiers into the streets without jobs and only a
few dollars pay, the CPA evidently realized that many of these desperate
ex-soldiers might end up joining the insurgency. Bremer then decided to
pay very attractive monthly stipends, reported to be five to six times
their original military wages, to a quarter-million discharged soldiers.
A few days ago the CPA modified the plan, announcing that only officers
(200,000 of them) would now receive the monthly payments and some
300,000 conscripts would be given just one payment. The CPA is also
paying the wages of 1.3 million state workers, even though the chaos of
occupation has left most of them without any real work to do. In effect,
the Bush administration has cleverly put a million and a half Iraqi
civil servants and ex-officers on the U.S. payroll to discourage them
from supporting opponents of the occupation.
So far, these carrot and stick measures have not sufficed to "win the
hearts and minds" of the Iraqi people, despite initial White House
propaganda about U.S. troops being met with cheers and bouquets. Popular
resentment is growing daily, especially given the CPA's inability to
provide minimal services to inhabitants of Baghdad and other cities. The
attitude of the U.S. military in particular has generated considerable
anger among the masses of people. Iraqis are continually complaining
that the army of occupation does not treat them with an iota of respect.
During their frequent raids on Iraqi homes, it is not unusual for young
children as well as adults to be handcuffed and hooded. The American
media usually refuse to report such abuses, including violence and
sadism, by U.S. soldiers toward Iraqi civilians, but the foreign press
publishes numerous accounts.
A report in the London Evening Standard June 19, based on interviews
with a half-dozen GIs, is a case in point among many. "By their own
admission," wrote correspondent Bob Graham, "these American soldiers
have killed civilians without hesitation, shot wounded fighters and left
others to die in agony." Army Sgt. First Class John Meadows told Graham,
"You can't distinguish between who's trying to kill you and who's not.
Like, the only way to get through shit like that was to concentrate on
getting through it by killing as many people as you can, people you know
are trying to kill you. Killing them first and getting home." He was
talking about civilians.
Specialist (corporal) Michael Richardson, 22, told the reporter, "There
was no dilemma when it came to shooting people who were not in uniform.
I just pulled the trigger. It was up close and personal the whole time.
There wasn't a big distance. If they were there, they were the enemy,
whether in uniform or not. Some were, some weren't." Later in the
interview, Richardson offered that he keeps a photo of the World Trade
Center hanging by his bed and another in his flak jacket. "Every time I
feel sorry for these people I look at that," he said, evidently
believing President Bush's falsehoods about an Iraqi connection to Sept.
11. "I think, 'They hit us at home and, now, it's our turn.' I don't
want to say payback but, you know, it's pretty much payback."
Mistreatment of civilians evidently is not just a matter of individual
misbehavior but government policy, according to a July 1 Associated
Press article that combined its own reportage with a new Amnesty
International investigation in Iraq. In essence, a number of Iraqi
citizens arrested in mass roundups seem to have been tortured by their
military jailers . and it turns out that such treatment is permissible
by U.S. standards.
The AP focused on the case of Khraisan al-Abally, a 39-year-old
businessman who was arrested at home and held in a jail at Baghdad
airport for eight days while "U.S. interrogators deprived him of sleep,
forced him to kneel naked and kept him bound hand and foot with a bag
over his head for eight days.... He was also kicked, forced to stare at
a strobe light and blasted with what he termed 'very loud rubbish
music.'" The soldiers shot and killed his brother when they broke into
al-Abally's residence (but U.S. authorities claim never to have heard of
the man) and also arrested his father, 80. He was released after his
jailers ascertained he had no information about an Iraqi official they
were seeking to locate.
"I thought I was going to lose my mind," al-Abally told the AP. "They
said, 'I want you on your knees.' After three or four days it is very
painful. My knees were bleeding and swollen.... This is democracy? No
Iraqi would have thought the Americans were capable of this."
Army officials told the AP reporter that the abusive interrogators were
adhering to the rules of military law. "Military intelligence officials
have said sleep deprivation, shackling prisoners in uncomfortable
positions and noise abuse are considered legal methods," the article
While there has been hardly a murmur in official U.S. circles about the
mistreatment of civilians, the evident lack of a serious postwar
occupation strategy is generating some criticism from outside and inside
the Bush administration.
Very few complaints about the war and occupation have been forthcoming
from the "opposition" Democratic Party, however, except, as usual, from
Sen. Robert Byrd, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, and the party's beleaguered
outpost of liberals. On June 26 two dozen House Democrats (out of 211)
called for an independent commission to examine the "intelligence" used
by the Bush administration to make the claim that Iraq harbored weapons
of mass destruction and had ties to the Sept. 11 attacks. A day later, a
few Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee declared that they
planned to hold an inquiry of their own on the issue of WMD and links to
The great majority of Democrat office holders are too timid (or
right-wing) to take a couple of pot shots at the WMD scandal . the
biggest sitting duck in Washington politics since Richard Nixon said he
wasn't a crook. They seem to fear that an envelope of anthrax may
eventually turn up under a rug in one of Baghdad's presidential
mansions, thus exposing them to Republican charges of stabbing the
Commander-in-Chief in the back while he's trying to save the lives of
The most important critique of the occupation so far emanates from a
pillar of the U.S. establishment . the Council on Foreign Relations
(CFR, which publishes the prestigious periodical Foreign Affairs among
its many interventions in Washington's international policies). The
organization argues in a 25-page position paper June 25 that "The U.S.
should provide Iraqis and Americans with a more coherent and compelling
vision for Iraq's political future."
The report is the product of a CFR task force co-chaired former Defense
Secretary and Energy Secretary James Schlesinger, and Thomas Pickering,
a leading U.S. diplomat for five decades and former chief UN
representative. Both have extensive contacts and influence with leading
sectors of the ruling class, including top corporate, military and
The CFR calls on the Bush administration . to develop a realistic plan
for the occupation, as opposed to "a series of false starts"; . to send
considerably more U.S. troops into Iraq (at present there are 146,000
American and 12,000 British troops in the country, and perhaps 90,000
U.S. GIs in Kuwait) and extend the time of occupation in order to
accomplish stated goals; . to engage the UN with some serious
responsibilities (the unstated reason being to provide the U.S.-British
invaders with retrospective cover for their illegal war); . to come up
with a realistic plan for the step-by-step transfer of authority to
Iraqi citizens; . to invest heavily in having the Pentagon train a large
military contingent prepared to engage in post-conflict "nation
building" for Iraq and wars to come.
The Schlesinger-Pickering intervention is reminiscent of last summer's
spurt of criticism from leading conservative members of the political
establishment, including two key figures in the administration of
President Bush the Elder . former National Security Adviser Brent
Scowcroft and former Secretary of State James A. Baker. The demand last
year was that the neo-conservative cabal of hotheads surrounding Bush
the Younger recognize that it was in U.S. interests to first gain at
least indirect backing from Congress and the UN before invading Iraq.
Bush eventually complied, and obtained backing largely by fabricating
the allegations about weapons of mass destruction.
The White House is well aware that its original postwar scenario is a
shambles. It already replaced the man first chosen to head the
"transition team" in Baghdad, retired Gen. Jay Garner, with Bremer, a
neo-conservative former State Department functionary. A number of
earlier mandates were also changed, but clearly the resistance struggle
demands further adjustments in how Washington administers its new
acquisition, a colony in everything but name.
A day after the CFR released its critical report, Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld sent a team of so-called "outside policy experts" to
Iraq to assess what must be done to effectively reorganize post-invasion
Iraq. One of the most important tasks is to develop a means for quickly
ending the insurgency and for obtaining the full cooperation of the
country's leading political organizations. Three of the five team
members are associated with the Center for Strategic and International
Studies (a leading establishment think-tank), including its president.
The other two represent the CFR and the United Nations Foundation.
One of the reasons behind the worry in ruling circles and the Bush
administration's ongoing reevaluation of the occupation is that U.S. and
foreign corporations will certainly be reluctant to invest heavily in
the reconstruction and economic future of Iraq, despite the promise of
huge profits, until the unsettling military-political crisis is
resolved. U.S. plans for the economic future of Iraq are based on the
following three factors: 1. Privatization of state-owned resources. 2.
The development of a free market economy. 3. U.S. control of Iraq's oil
resources, the second largest in the world.
1. Addressing the World Economic Conference in Jordan June 22, proconsul
Bremer pledged to quickly privatize Iraq's economy, starting with 40
large state-owned enterprises. The principal sectors of the economy have
been run by the state for decades and, until the 1991 war and the
subsequent sanctions, assured that the Iraqi people in general enjoyed a
basic income and satisfactory social services. During the U.S.-UN
sanctions period of cruel and extreme deprivation, the state assumed the
responsibility for subsidizing living standards, enforcing cheap prices
and feeding some 60% of the population unable to fend for itself,
largely through its limited exports of state-owned oil.
Bremer has made it clear that the views of the people of Iraq were not
considered in the decision to sell-off the state sector to the highest
bidder, largely to U.S. interests and corporations in Kuwait, Jordan and
Turkey, among other foreign investors. Assuming the process
recapitulates the privatization of national property in the USSR and
other former socialist countries, foreign owners and local gangsters
will obtain these businesses at bargain-basement prices.
2. At a press conference when he took control of Baghdad in May, Bremer
attributed Iraq's economic problems primarily to its state ownership and
centralization, not the war and sanctions, which ruined an otherwise
well functioning economy. He later mused to the press, "History tells us
that substantially and broadly held resources, protected by private
property, private rights, are the best protection of political freedom."
The conversion of Iraq into a "free trade" market economy is one of the
Bush administration's highest colonial priorities, not just to create
another large market for American goods but to stamp out any possible
alternative to market-based capitalism. Washington's ultimate objective
is for the entire Middle East to adopt this development model, thus
bringing the region under total U.S. economic domination.
3. An amusing poster on display at one of the Washington antiwar
protests this year asked, "What is OUR oil doing under THEIR sand?"
Actually, the U.S. does not need, or intend to steal, Iraq's oil. It
does, however, plan to control the flow of Iraqi oil, enriching U.S. oil
companies in the process and getting cheap prices for itself, when state
ownership is denationalized. It mainly seeks control as an eventual
wedge against competing capitalist economies at a time when petroleum
resources are being rapidly depleted and may be exhausted within the
next 35-50 years. A number of advanced industrial states in Europe and
Asia are, or will become, dependent on oil from the Middle East. U.S.
control of the spigot dispensing Iraqi oil will greatly strengthen
Washington's competitive edge in the inevitable intra-capitalist
competitions to come, whether over oil, profits, markets, trade
agreements, "living space," or wars of conquest. The two most horrific
wars in world history, lest anyone forget, were intra-capitalist
conflicts that took place within the last 90 years. The existence of the
socialist camp after World War II unified the capitalist states for 45
years, but no such restraint exists today save that of U.S. military
superiority, a perhaps relatively short-lived phenomenon given that
Empires do come and go.
To conclude, the people of Iraq today are educated, cultured, well-read
and knowledgeable about their country's long and important history,
including the many, many centuries when Mesopotamia was dominated by
over a half-dozen different invading empires. In the modern era, they
have not forgotten that when Lt. Gen. Sir Stanley Maude led the invading
army of the British Empire into Baghdad in 1917 to wrest Iraq from the
Ottoman Empire, he proclaimed, "Our armies do not come into your cities
and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators," a pledge
repeated by President Bush 86 years later, with approximately as much
sincerity. Three years after Maude's pronouncement, the Iraqi people
understood they were once again the subjects of foreign empire. Their
four-month rebellion against British imperialism in 1920 cost them at
least 10,000 lives.
In time, after experiencing several attempts at insurrection and no
longer able to sustain the accouterments of its ever-shrinking empire,
the British withdrew, leaving a puppet monarchy to govern in its place.
Eventually, the Iraqi people deposed the monarchy, gained real
independence and nationalized the oil resources that had been so
profitable to British companies.
Over the years the governing Ba'ath Party initiated a number of
progressive economic and social policies . from national healthcare to
female equality . and consistently defended Iraq's independence,
sovereignty and policy of secular governance. In time, however, Iraq's
Ba'athist movement lost its original idealism, and the government
adopted certain policies in contradiction to the interests of the Iraqi
people, such as the repression of the left, discrimination against the
Shia and Kurds, and the unjust, U.S.-supported war against Iran in the
1980s. President Hussein's miscalculation that Washington would ignore
his 1990 campaign to reclaim Kuwait (which Baghdad considers a creature
of British imperialism stolen from Iraq), provided the U.S. with the
opportunity to launch the pathetically unequal 1991 war against Iraq,
followed by the catastrophe of killer sanctions for the next dozen years
until March 20 when Bush of Baghdad transformed the Iraqi people into
the unwilling subjects of yet another empire.
But having once broken its shackles, will this ancient people passively
submit to foreign domination? The history of recent decades suggests
not. The current incipient guerrilla campaign is a just expression of
national defense against imperialism, deserving of support. It may or
may not develop into a full-blown uprising, but we suspect that the
United States has stumbled into a complex new quagmire from whence it
had best depart with dispatch. Much sooner than later, Iraq's day will
3. HE NEVER GOT THE EVIDENCE
The commanding general in charge of the Clinton administration's unjust,
illegal war against Yugoslavia in 1999 has questioned one of the
principal reasons put forward by the Bush administration for launching
its unjust, illegal war in Iraq.
Appearing on NBC's Meet the Press June 15, former U.S. Army Gen. Wesley
Clark revealed that a White House official contacted him by telephone
just hours after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the Pentagon and World
Trade Center, urging him to declare that the Iraqi government was
implicated in the event. He didn't name the official.
"There was a concerted effort during the fall of 2001, starting
immediately after 9/11, to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam
Hussein," he said. 'It came from ... people around the White House. It
came from all over. I got a call on 9/11... at my home saying, 'You got
to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to
be connected to Saddam Hussein.' I said, 'I'm willing to say it, but
what's your evidence?' And I never got any evidence."
Clark clearly remains unconvinced that the Baghdad government was
implicated in the Sept. 11 attacks, one of the Bush administration's two
justifications for seizing Iraq. The other is the false allegation that
Iraq possessed a large supply of weapons of mass destruction.
The progressive watchdog group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting was
critical of the corporate mass media for ignoring Clark's revelation.
FAIR also noted that "Clark's assertion corroborates a little-noted CBS
Evening News story that aired on Sept. 4, 2002. As correspondent David
Martin reported: 'Barely five hours after American Airlines Flight 77
plowed into the Pentagon, the secretary of defense was telling his aides
to start thinking about striking Iraq, even though there was no evidence
linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks."
4. EXPERT DOUBTS CHARGE AGAINST CUBA
The Bush administration's fabrications about weapons of mass destruction
(WMD) go beyond Iraq. New confirmation from a State Department source
makes it clear that the White House lied about such weapons in Cuba,
A number of analysts with the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies
have privately complained to leading newspapers in recent months that
the Bush administration exaggerated their reports about the extent of
WMD in the hands of so-called "rogue" states . but until late June none
of their names appeared in print.
The New York Times revealed June 25, however, that an expert on
chemical-biological warfare for the State Department told closed
meetings of both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees earlier in
the month that he was pressured by his superior to "tailor his analysis"
to correspond with Bush administration demands, not just in Iraq but
Cuba. The newspaper evidently obtained its information about the
testimony from sources on each committee.
The witness was Christian Westermann, a senior intelligence expert in
the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence a research. He was
ordered to appear with other experts before both committees as they
probed into "the Bush administration's handling of prewar reports on
evidence that Iraq had illegal weapons and ties to terrorist groups."
Westermann told the committees that he was pressured by John Bolton, the
undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, to
agree that Cuba was developing a chemical-biological warfare capability
that was threatening to the United States. The Times reported that "he
made it clear that he had felt pressure... that originally dated to a
clash the two had over Mr. Bolton's public assurances last year that
Cuba has a biological weapons program. Mr. Westermann argued those
assertions were not supported by sufficient intelligence."
Bolton, the State Department.s third-ranking official, is a protigi of
far-right Sen. Jesse Helms, author of the Helms-Burton sanctions on
Cuba. Disregarding Westermann's complaints, Bolton announced in a May
6, 2002, speech before the right-wing Heritage Foundation that Cuba.s
world-class biotechnology industry was actually producing germ-warfare
weapons of mass destruction which it endeavors to supply to
.terrorist-sponsoring states.. This allegation, evidently the cause of
the clash with Westermann, was obviously intended to establish Cuba as a
possible future target for a "preemptive" strike by the U.S.
.We call on Cuba to cease all biological weapons-applicable cooperation
with rogue states and to fully comply with all its obligations under the
Biological [and Toxic] Weapons Convention," Bolton declared. "States
that renounce terror and abandon weapons of mass destruction can become
part of our effort [in the war on terrorism]. Those that do not, can
expect to become our targets..
Ironically, six months before Bolton demanded that Cuba fulfill its
"obligations," he informed the Geneva conference to strengthen the
Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention that Washington . which
possesses the world's largest supply of such means of mass destruction .
rejected its new restrictions on the deadly weapons. Bolton specifically
spurned on-site investigations and binding enforcement. The White House
thus effectively scuttled the protocol on the grounds that it would
impede the U.S. government's .legitimate activities..
5. WASHINGTON NEEDS A COLONIAL OFFICE
From time to time an article appears in the establishment press that is
so disarmingly honest . particularly if it is from a conservative point
of view . that it inadvertently confirms what the left has been howling
about for years. Titled, "Washington Needs A Colonial Office," this
opinion piece appeared in the July 2 issue of the Financial Times. At
first we thought it to be satire, but it's a serious proposal written by
Max Boot, an Olin senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Boot thinks the White House is mishandling the occupation of conquered
Iraq. He supports the Bush administration's recent forays into
regime-change "nation building," but despairs of Washington's lack of
serious preparation in the thankless task of transforming subject
nations such as Iraq into little Star-Spangled servants of imperialism.
Of course he would be repelled by such words. Here is the conclusion of
Boots' article, picking up just after he bemoans America's lack of
professionalism in various aspects of colonial endeavor, such as
building new police forces to keep the natives in line:
"....The irony is that there is no shortage of U.S. experts in all these
fields, in and out of government, many of them veterans of prior
peacekeeping operations. What is lacking is a central office that can
marshal their expertise. We need to create a colonial office - fast.
"Of course, it cannot be called that. It needs an anodyne euphemism such
as Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. But it should
take its inspiration, if not its name, from the old British Colonial
Office and India Office. Together, these two institutions ran large
swaths of the world with a handful of bright, honest, industrious civil
servants. They had an enormous impact, given the small numbers involved;
there were seldom more than 1,000 members of the Indian civil service to
administer hundreds of millions of Indians. Like its British
predecessors, the U.S. colonial service needs to be an elite civilian
agency that can call on forces for assistance where appropriate.
"The U.S. does not need or want a formal empire on the British model.
But it desperately needs to win the peace in places such as Afghanistan
and Iraq . where the British, as it happens, had a lot of experience of
their own. They had their share of setbacks but they could not have
accomplished as much as they did without their top imperial civil
services. America needs to create one of its own, before its hard-won
military gains turn to dust."
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