Thievery underlies invasion of Iraq

Essential article by Naomi Klein lays it out with clarity in the September issue of Harpers

Everyone needs to read Baghdad Year Zero published in the September 2004 issue of Harpers Magazine. It is absolutely crucial for understanding the underlying planning for the conquest of Iraq.

Deep Blade has reported extensively on the illegality of the planned economic transformation of Iraq here and here, especially in connection with the indefinitely-postponed US-Iraq Business Alliance Conference — co-sponsored by the University of Maine School of Business — that was to have been held November 13, 2003.

It turns out now that events during this mid-fall period last year are absolutely pivotal to understanding the current situation. In the face of rising Iraqi resistance, the article explains the decisions taken by the Bush administration resulting in the 180 degree policy shift of last fall, where Coalition Provisional Authority head Bremer went from insisting on an in-place constitution and elections before the occupation could be ended, to the sham sovereignty hand-off and appointed puppet government there now.

Klein’s article zeros in on the critical moments as the forces of resistance in Iraq rose up to derail neocon economic planning:

By November, trade lawyers started to advise their corporate clients not to go into Iraq just yet….Insurance companies were so spooked that not a single one of the big firms would insure investors for “political risk”.

While “international law prohibits occupiers from selling state assets,” it says nothing about puppet governments. So the risky plan was to officially end the occupation by the end of June, “but not really. It would be an appointed government chosen by Washington.” And the timimg was set with the US election in mind.

The UN role in the plan, led by envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, was a sham, as the UN was cut out of the loop towards the end of May at the very last second.

But the plan also hinged partly on the interim constitution. Here’s a major thing I didn’t realize at the time — barely reported if at all — that I learned from the Klein article: Article 26 said, “The laws, regulations, orders, and directives issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority…shall remain in force.” After al Sistani had intervened to prevent this article from being included, five bombs exploded in front of mosques in Baghdad and Karbala on March 2, killing 200. Sistani backed down and the interim constitution, with Bremer’s legal loophole was signed.

BUT, “The final blow to the neocon dream came in the weeks before the handover.” The Whitehouse and CPA “had twisted arms to give the top job to former CIA agent Iyad Allawi, a move that will ensure that Iraq becomes, at the very least, the ‘coaling station’ that Jay Garner originally envisioned.”

However, UNSCR 1546 does not ratify the interim constitution! This was reported as a blow to the Kurds, but it also puts the neocon privatization contracts in limbo, while “Iraqi ministers are already talking about breaking contracts signed by the CPA.”

It looks to me that as a trade-off last June, the US decided authority over military operations and the election-year “Let Freedom Reign” propaganda front were more important than Kurdish autonomy or affirmation of the legality of Bremer’s orders.

Klein concludes that the resistance to US-backed corporate thievery and privatization has won round one, as “Businessmen threatened by Bremers investment laws have decided to make investments of their own–in the resistance”.

On the other hand, it’s far from over, because “…while the Iraqi resistance has managed to scare off the first wave of corporate raiders, there is little doubt that they will return”.

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