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The Myth of Freedom

Hey Iraqis: How’s that “Liberation” Stuff Workin’ Out For Ya?

by KEVIN CARSON

On March 19 Donald Rumsfeld, former US “Defense” Secretary and ongoing sociopath and moral leper, celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War with this tweet: “10 yrs ago began the long, difficult work of liberating 25 mil Iraqis. All who played a role in history deserve our respect & appreciation.”

Just what “liberation” meant to Rummy, Dummy and Scummy can be seen from the agenda Paul Bremer implemented as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq. Imagine the kind of “What I Would Do If I Were Absolute Dictator For A Year” list an entire army of ALEC staffers and Heritage Foundation interns would come up with, with the RIAA, MPAA, Monsanto, Halliburton and Blackwater egging them on, and that’s basically what Bremer did to Iraq.

Bremer’s CPA was a classic “night watchman state.” Remember all those priceless historical treasures the looters “liberated” from the National Museum while the U.S. looked the other way? With Night Watchman Bremer’s go-ahead, global corporate looters gave the Iraqi economy just as thorough a ransacking.

Bremer’s infamous “100 Orders” repealed virtually all of the Saddam-era legal structure — except for the 1987 Labor Code, which prohibited collective bargaining in the state sector. The state sector encompassed two hundred state-owned firms (a major chunk of the industrial economy), and Bremer wanted to “privatize” them in insider sweetheart deals with crony capitalists. Legalizing unions might gum up the works.

The CPA refused to unfreeze the assets of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU). Bremer ordered US troops to storm the IFTU headquarters and kept it closed down for months. A local American commander helpfully told an imprisoned union organizer that Iraq was not a sovereign country, and that so long as it was under the administration of the CPA Bremer didn’t want unions.

Bremer’s 100 Orders also included Order 81 on “Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety,” which updated “intellectual property” law to “meet current internationally-recognized standards of protection” like the WIPO Copyright Treaty and Uruguay Round TRIPS Accord (which the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act was also passed to implement). Among other things, the new law criminalized saving seeds for the next year.

The entire legal regime Bremer implemented by decree was to remain the law of the land even after the restoration of sovereignty, until — and unless — it was supervened by a new constitution. The so-called “transfer of sovereignty” was to a government appointed by the CPA, enabling Bremer to evade the restriction in international law against a conqueror directly selling off state assets — while also leaving in place an “interim constitution” based on Bremer’s 100 Orders.

Article 26 of Bremer’s Constitution, stated that “[t]he laws, regulations, orders and directives issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority … shall remain in force” under the interim government, until the “sovereign” puppet regime was replaced by general elections. As Naomi Klein observed in “Baghdad Year Zero” (Harper’s, September 2004):

“Bremer had found his legal loophole: There would be a window — seven months — when the occupation was officially over but before general elections were scheduled to take place. Within this window, the Hague and Geneva Conventions’ bans on privatization would no longer apply, but Bremer’s own laws, thanks to Article 26, would stand. During these seven months, foreign investors could come to Iraq and sign forty-year contracts to buy up Iraqi assets. If a future elected Iraqi government decided to change the rules, investors could sue for compensation.”

The “interim constitution” was designed to make its own replacement by referendum extremely difficult — among other things, requiring any new constitution actually approved by the people of Iraq (as opposed to decreed by Bremer’s fiat) to receive  at least thirty percent of the vote in sixteen of Iraq’s eighteen provinces.

On top of everything else, Bremer appointed a whole slew of ministerial officials to five-year terms that would override any later decisions by an independent government.

Meanwhile, a “debt forgiveness” plan negotiated with creditor nations under IMF auspices used debt contracted by Saddam — debt that should have been treated as odious, and hence null and void — as a whip to coerce adherence to the Washington Consensus economic agenda.

This is the “liberation” agenda for which Rumsfeld and his fellow war criminals murdered hundreds of thousands, and physically crippled or psychologically scarred untold hundreds of thousands more. If that’s the kind of “liberation” you like, may you soon join Rumsfeld in hell.

Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory.