Skip to main content.

Back to: >> War & Iraq

Iraq Occupation & "Reconstruction"

By many news reports one would think that Iraq is recovering. It is -- slowly. None of these news reports digs beneath the news to find patterns. But Naomi Klein has done just that. Her article in the 24 Nov 2003 issue of "The Nation" serves as the resource base for what follows.

The immediate debate is all about a quick hand-over of governance to the Iraqis. Bremer did his part. On 19 Sept 2003, Bremer issued what amounts to a decree announcing that 200 Iraqi companies would be privatized. Bremer's action was illegal under Iraqi law, which happens to be recognized not only by the world but by the US itself.

But democracies need political institutions, a market economy, and a middle class to make it all work. Still the Administration is now pushing fast for a governance transfer.

Under the decree, virtually all reconstruction is being done by outsiders importing labor while Iraqis remain unemployed. Is this the way to build / rebuild an Iraqi infrastructure operated by a middle class? Its one way but not a very good one. It makes Iraqis feel unappreciated, even humiliated. These feelings can too easily turn into hatred. With every civilian death, with every issue of dole, such feelings are reinforced.

There are also some future ramifications.

Economist 09 Oct 2003

To cap it all, a new investment law lets foreign contractors bring in labour from abroad but export all profits. Those Iraqis who do get contracts are often just back from exile.

If you were an Iraqi how would you take that? Badly.

Economist 25 Sep 2003 referring to the same law.

If it all works out, Iraq will be a capitalist's dream. [Not Iraqi capitalists.]

This of course fits perfectly into the Neocon / Plutocracy strategy. The companies privatized have no restrictions on ownership, it can be 100% foreign. Further, 100% of all profits can be taken out of the country.

In short, public assets are being turned into private ones, substantially with foreign owners. If this doesn't sew further seeds of discontent it will only be because Iraqis are from another planet.

Bremer's decree is illegal.

  • There is nothing in the Security Council's recognition of the occupation that provides any legal cover for Bremer's decree.
  • The US Army's Law of Land Warfare states that "the occupant does not have the right of sale or unqualified use of [nonmilitary] property."
  • The Security Council Resolution passed in May 2003 required the occupying powers to "comply fully with their obligations of International Law including in particular the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Hague Regulations of 1907."

Maybe we should not worry about what Bremer wrote as the Iraqis will have plenty grounds under International Law to re-nationalize the industries taken over. Will Bush force the Bremer Decree into the new Iraqi Constitution? He will certainly try.

If that happens, Iraq will still be a country occupied and operated by plutocrats from abroad, earning no profit from their large industries. This assumes of course that Iraq does not fall apart from ethnic and religious strife, which is quite possible. Bush takes pride in recognizing the rights of people, unless money is involved.

Is this the way of imperialism? Of course. It is a Zionist's dream.

Is this the way to a fair and just peace? Of course not, and you can leave out the adjectives.

Alternatives? Plenty of them.
  • Reverse the Bremer decree.
  • Understand Islam. This is absolutely necessary.
  • Understand the features of the Authoritarian Personality that can make people become terrorists.
  • Find ways for the Iraqis themselves to rebuild their infrastructure, to own their own factories, to reclaim some pride, both personally and nationally.
  • Provide technical and engineering assistance.
  • Upgrade the medical and educational systems.
  • Keep God and Religion out of it. Understand the coupling between Monotheism and Violence.
  • Use dialogue in working toward these many goals.
  • Work on the question of terror from the grass roots, from the families to the mullahs.
  • Find ways to cool ethnic strife and build integration into all sectors and levels of society.
  • Coach a people in the ways of liberty who are used to dictators and mullahs calling all the shots for 1400 years.
  • Be patient; changing a national mind set may take two generations. Grudges do not just go away, they can only die. People will only change themselves if they want to -- "what's in it for me?" for example. Right now they do not see all that much.

These together are a tall order, but it is on track. Plans that do not recognize and build on the individual and his/her attitudes of a lifetime will never bring peace.

Plutocratic doctrine will do just the opposite and the implementer will have a lot of empty arguments to shout you down with.

The final question arises: Does the plutocrat want peace and security from violence? He pays lip service to it; but otherwise does not behave like it. The plutocrat exhibits the selfish nature of humanity and selfishness is divisive at best.

May 2004 update:
  • Military death toll continues to rise
  • Contractor personnel assassinated
  • Spain is withdrawing troops
  • Prisoner-treatment scandals continue to erupt under both US and British supervision
  • Collaborating Iraqis assassinated
  • Iraqi women do not feel as secure as they did under Hussein; men don't either
  • Initiatives are now largely in the hands of the insurgent leaders
  • We repeat the cycle of vengeance that plagued Israel/Palestine for five decades
  • Over 700 Americans have died, more than half since "victory" was declared in a photo-op

In short, we are acting out of weakness and haste. The ideal was, and apparently still remains in the mind of Bush, that the Iraqis as a nation are as docile as American voters and will behave similarly. A plan, as Jeff Bezos puts it, never survives its contact with reality. Fantasy eventually must yield to facts, even in Washington.

The problem has:
  • become a trillion dollar problem, some $4000 for each American citizen, including preparations, the war, and the reconstruction.
  • alienated our allies and most of the individuals who sympathized with us so acutely after 9/11.
  • made us an embarrassment on the world stage.
  • put us in a position as vulnerable as Israel is in Palestine, and just about as helpless in finding a "classical" solution at the point of a gun.
  • confirmed that history in the large repeats itself.
  • illustrated the failure of diplomacy conducted in Authoritarian style.
  • made it even tougher to stop terrorism (by aiding their recruiting), much less handle the ultimate threat-- Nuclear Terror--(With Iraq consuming us diplomatically and militarily, what have Iran and North Korea to fear, and where does Pakistan stand?).

Will a regime change resolve this? It could be a start, if the new folks recognize terror for what it really is and what it will take to counter it effectively. The alternative is to read the prophetic " Iron Wall." Jabotinsky was not just warning his Zionist friends; his formula applies to us in Iraq as well--maybe even in Washington if Mr. Bush has his way.

There has to be a better way. Civilization is at stake.


No comments yet

To be able to post comments, please register on the site.