FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Iraqi Liberation, Bush Style

by ROBERT JENSEN And RAHUL MAHAJAN

Now that American-British lies and distortions about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and al-Qaida links have been thoroughly exposed, Bush administration officials have had to create new rationalizations for the Iraq war.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in late July that “military and rehabilitation efforts now under way in Iraq are an essential part of the war on terror. In fact, the battle to secure the peace in Iraq is now the central battle in the war on terror.”

Last Tuesday, George W. Bush told the American Legion, “a democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East would be a further defeat for [the terrorist networks’] ideology of terror.”

And in early August, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice compared the U.S. mission in Iraq with the civil rights movement: “[W]e must never, ever indulge in the condescending voices who allege that some people in Africa or in the Middle East are just not interested in freedom … or they just aren’t ready for freedom’s responsibilities. … [That] view was wrong in 1963 in Birmingham, and it is wrong in 2003 in Baghdad.” Rice implied that those opposing the U.S. occupation are the moral equivalent of white supremacists who thought black Americans incapable of citizenship. To critique the Iraq occupation is to stand in the schoolhouse door.

The Bush strategy is clear: If WMD and terrorist links fail as rationalizations for war, don’t worry; let us now praise the liberation of Iraq. It turns out that all along the invasion was about creating democracy in Iraq so that Americans will be more secure.

The brutality of Hussein’s regime had long been known, not least to U.S. planners during the decade the United States supported him through the worst of his atrocities.

But liberation rhetoric is designed to divert people from questioning U.S. intentions. For the sake of discussion, however, let’s take Bush’s claim at face value and ask, How serious is the United States about establishing a meaningful democracy in Iraq? How liberated are Iraqis?

Rebuilding a country devastated by three wars (the eight-year Iran-Iraq War, the 1991 Gulf War, and this year’s invasion) and 13 years of punishing economic sanctions is no small task. But, as Wolfowitz has admitted, U.S. planners gave little thought to those problems. The United States is spending $3.9 billion a month on military operations but has allocated only $2.5 billion over two years for reconstruction.

Liberation, most would assume, also means allowing people to decide their own fate. Yet the crucial decision to privatize as much of the Iraqi economy as possible has been effectively made by American officials to be ratified by a handpicked Iraqi council.

U.S. officials also have eliminated most import tariffs, which has resulted in a flood of goods into the country – and hundreds of factory closings and increased unemployment. Iraqi companies dealing with 13 years of economic crisis and progressive decay under sanctions can’t compete with foreign goods.

One also might assume basic freedoms are part of liberation. Yet the Coalition Provisional Authority chief, Paul Bremer, gave himself the power to squelch Iraqi media engaged in “incitement,” which in practice means clamping down on those who oppose the occupation. Under the headline “Bremer is a Baathist,” one paper editorialized, “We’ve waited a long time to be free. Now you want us to be slaves.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. military has fired on crowds of peaceful demonstrators. The worst instance, which was condemned by Human Rights Watch, was in Falluja in April when 17 were killed. In a botched raid on a Baghdad house in July, troops fired on Iraqi civilians in a crowded street and killed up to 11, including two children. In one night in August, six Iraqi civilians were killed at unannounced U.S. checkpoints. All of this seems to suggest that, in the minds of occupation authorities, Iraqi life is cheap.

Most Iraqis are happy to be free of the regime of Saddam Hussein. But it’s increasingly clear that the well-being of Iraqis was not the reason for regime change.

Officials are quick to deny it had anything to do with increasing U.S. military control over that strategically crucial energy-rich region, or with control of the flow of oil and oil profits — even while they acknowledge plans to create permanent military bases, use their new leverage against other countries in the region, and privatize Iraq’s oil.

We’re supposed to trust them, though all the signs point in the opposite direction. After all, they haven’t led us wrong on Iraq before, have they?

Robert Jensen, a professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, is the author of the forthcoming “Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity” (City Lights Books). He can be reached at rjensen@uts.cc.utexas.edu.

Rahul Mahajan is a member of the Nowar Collective. His newest book, “Full Spectrum Dominance: U.S. Power in Iraq and Beyond” is just out from Seven Stories Press. His articles are collected at http://www.rahulmahajan.com

He can be reached at rahul@tao.ca

 

Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Winning Hearts and Minds
Tommy Raskin
Syrian Quicksand
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Still Tries to Push Dangerous Drug Class
Jill Richardson
The Attorney General Thinks Aspirin Helps Severe Pain – He’s Wrong
Mike Miller
Herb March: a Legend Deserved
Ann Garrison
If the Democrats Were Decent
Renee Parsons
The Times, They are a-Changing
Howard Gregory
The Democrats Must Campaign to End Trickle-Down Economics
Sean Keller
Agriculture and Autonomy in the Middle East
Ron Jacobs
Re-Visiting Gonzo
Eileen Appelbaum
Rapid Job Growth, More Education Fail to Translate into Higher Wages for Health Care Workers
Ralph Nader
Shernoff, Bidart, and Echeverria—Wide-Ranging Lawyers for the People
Chris Zinda
The Meaning of Virginia Park
Robert Koehler
War and Poverty: A Compromise with Hell
Mike Bader – Mike Garrity
Senator Tester Must Stop Playing Politics With Public Lands
Kenneth Culton
No Time for Olympic Inspired Nationalism
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Final Days of the Regime
Irene Tung – Teófilo Reyes
Tips are for Servers Not CEOs
Randy Shields
Yahoomans in Paradise – This is L.A. to Me
Thomas Knapp
No Huawei! US Spy Chiefs Reverse Course on Phone Spying
Mel Gurtov
Was There Really a Breakthrough in US-North Korea Relations?
David Swanson
Witness Out of Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
George Brandis, the Rule of Law and Populism
Dean Baker
The Washington Post’s Long-Running Attack on Unions
Andrew Stewart
Providence Public School Teachers Fight Back at City Hall
Stephen Cooper
Majestic Meditations with Jesse Royal: the Interview
David Yearsley
Olympic Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail