Bring the Troops Home Now

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2005-08-18

Analysis of certain news from Iraq: The importance of the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) -- otherwise called grand larceny

It's not easy to comprehend the reasons behind the bloody news reports out of Iraq. And the only reports concerning the draft constitution-writing difficulties that the Iraqi draft-writing committee is experiencing reportedly concern only two issues: the clash of Shite/Kurdish federalism, and the role of Islamic law for the future of women's freedom. Fair enough. But the major issue of Iraq's economic foundation is NOT reported on and thus not widely known about -- but is of crucial importance toward understanding the deeper reasons behind the resistance.

The Bush administration had put into place immediately after the invasion a series of economic laws (called the Transitional Administrative Law) which, in effect, favors American business and financial interests over Iraqi. This overriding law was contrived by L. Paul Bremer, then US administrator of Iraq. Regulations governing the spheres of banking, investment, patents, copyrights, business ownership, taxes, the media, and trade were suddenly all changed according to US financial goals, with little real participation from the Iraqi people.

Many other Draconian economic orders were put in place. (All that was left of the Hussein era economic law was the prohibition of unions.)

The central part of the Bush economic agenda is foreign corporate access to and privatization of Iraq's once state-run economy. Thus, the Bremer order allowed foreign investment in and the privatization of all 192 government-owned industries...Oil is, of course, at the heart of the agenda. In 2004 US-appointed Prime Minister Allawi submitted guidelines to Iraq's Supreme Council for Oil Policy for the Iraqi government to disengage from running the oil sector...and that the Iraq National Oil Company be partially privatized in the future and opened to international foreign investment... Iraq's reconstruction also remains firmly under US control. One of Bremer's orders denied the Iraqi government the ability to give preference to Iraqis in the reconstruction effort. Instead, more than 150 US companies were awarded contracts totaling more than $50 billion, while 13 other US companies are earning more than $1.5 billion each. [Antonia Juhasz, LA Times, August 2005]

Is there any wonder then that there is vast and widespread unemployment in Iraq? (I believe the figure mentioned was over 60 percent)

(And the question of the strange disappearance of $9 billion of US taxpayer funds unaccounted for by Halliburton in the reconstruction effort has yet to be examined by our compliant congress.)

The Transitional Administrative Law put into place virtually overnight by US fiat gives the Bush administration a stranglehold on the economic life of the country -- and the constitutional drafting committee has, in turn, left each of these laws in place in their new draft constitution, as mandated expressly in the TAL (otherwise called grand larceny.)

And, surprise, surprise, a majority of those officials drafting the new constitution are essentially the same people originally put in place on the provisional governing council set up after the invasion by L. Paul Bremer, many of them former well-connected exiles.

So by all accounts the draft constitution, an American construct, fails to provide Iraqis with the means to control their own economic future. And as with all imperial ventures, the economic occupation goes hand in hand with the military and political occupation.

The policy we will see now will be for this (US-installed) client governmental body to write a (US-created and supervised) new constitution, hold an (occupation-controlled) election, and through a compliant media create an appearance of a credible government whose dependence on the US military for survival will forever assure that the US will never be asked to leave or remove its permanent bases. The scam is in.

Santayana wrote, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." The US military in Vietnam won every military battle but lost the war to the Vietnamese. It was their country. And their anger and their nationalism outlasted our overwhelming destructive military power. So, too, the US war planners underestimated the Iraqis' will to resist the illegal occupation of their country. As during the Vietnam war when Vietnamization was an utter failure, Iraqization is also an utter failure, and elections held under the control of foreign occupiers cannot deter a growing resistance movement to oust a hated invader.

Thirty months into this war the world's most powerful military is stymied, unable to stop the Iraqi resistance and also the mounting number of American casualties. The US death toll at present is reported as 1,862. The injured and maimed whose numbers are many many times higher, are returning with horrific and debilitating injuries, more than in any other war. The VA has also confirmed that 30 percent of all returning Iraq veterans suffer from psychological disability -- post traumatic stress syndrome.

We know, as by now every kindergartener knows, (but not Rumsfeld) the policy from the very beginning was about the control of oil. After Iraq, Iran was to follow.

As Bob Herbert of the NY Times says,

The invasion of Iraq was part of a much larger long-term policy that has to do with the US imposing its will, militarily when necessary throughout the Middle East...for total control of the region and its oil...The war has gone badly...but dreams of empire die hard. American G.I.'s are dug into Iraq, and the bases have been built for a long stay. That should be understood by the people who think that the formation of a permanent Iraqi government will lead to the withdrawal of American troops. There is no real withdrawal plan. The fighting and dying will continue indefinitely. [7/28/2005]

In spite of new sham and contradictory administration statements about troops and elections and "stand down", the assessment by Bob Herbert is correct. And because of that, I believe that since Mr. Bush is not president by divine right, but is an official representative of a democratically constituted populace, he should listen to Cindy Sheehan, the grieving mother outside his ranch in Crawford, Texas, and to the ever growing number of military families and the majority of citizens, academics, clergy, and ordinary people of our civil society who are demanding an end to the immoral and disastrous occupation of Iraq.