WHAT WE THINK
April 11, 2003 | Page 3
IMAGINE AN oil-rich Middle Eastern regime ruled by a military dictator who hands out lucrative rewards to a tiny circle of crony capitalists. Civilian government officials rubberstamp their decisions.
The Ministry of Information is run by the former boss of one of the world's most ruthless and feared secret police agencies. Food and government aid to the poor is funneled through a network of regional military warlords to ensure the compliance of a terrorized population.
Long-oppressed national and religious minorities, promised autonomy on paper, find their rights denied in reality. All opposition is violently crushed--and neighboring countries are threatened with military intervention if they get in the way.
That's George W. Bush's plan for a "liberated" Iraq. The U.S. military has already antagonized international relief agencies by insisting on controlling the distribution of food and other humanitarian aid. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld threatened Syria and Iran for allegedly backing Iraq.
And while Bush was haggling with British Prime Minister Tony Blair over when--and if--the United Nations (UN) would get involved in postwar Iraq, Washington's new colonial viceroys were sitting down at a beachside villa in Kuwait to draw up plans for an occupation.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner is slated to be Iraq's nominal civilian administrator. But he reports to Gen. Tommy Franks, head of the U.S. military's Central Command--"a fact that makes the civilian government-in-waiting an operation of the Pentagon," New York Times reporter Jane Perlez wrote.
While the UN may be given a role, Washington will call the shots--as Secretary of State Colin Powell made clear. "We didn't take on this huge burden with our coalition partners, not to be able to have significant, dominating control over how it unfolds in the future," Powell said March 26. To ensure "dominating control," the U.S. wants to install former CIA Director James Woolsey at Iraq's Ministry of Information.
Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi, once convicted of bank fraud, is the Pentagon's favored front man. "[T]he bulk of Iraqis inside Iraq, Sunni and Shi'ite, Arab, Kurd and others, who have been brutally disenfranchised for over three decades, would remain voiceless," the International Crisis Group concluded. The real levers of power in Iraq are to be put in the hands of Americans--like James Carney, former U.S. ambassador to Sudan, the favorite to head the Iraqi Ministry of Industry.
And behind this motley collection of crooks, spies, brass and bureaucrats stand some of the biggest names in Corporate America. "In some ways, it's a classic 'to the victor go the spoils' vision of postwar planning," the Christian Science Monitor observed.
This carve-up of Iraq's resources is the reason why the French, German and Russian governments are pushing for a UN role as a way to help them get in on the action. "The present argument about who should run postwar Iraq is a proxy for this much bigger dispute over the architecture of the international security system," Financial Times columnist Philip Stephens wrote.
In other words, this war is about imperialism--the U.S. drive for world domination. We need a movement that not only mobilizes against war and occupation, but that challenges U.S. imperialism in all its forms.