FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Iraqi Liberation, Bush Style

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 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Time for Peace in Afghanistan and an End to the Lies
Chris Floyd
Pence and the Benjamins: An Eternity of Anti-Semitism
Rob Urie
The Green New Deal, Capitalism and the State
Jim Kavanagh
The Siege of Venezuela and the Travails of Empire
Paul Street
Someone Needs to Teach These As$#oles a Lesson
Andrew Levine
World Historical Donald: Unwitting and Unwilling Author of The Green New Deal
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Third Rail-Roaded
Eric Draitser
Impacts of Exploding US Oil Production on Climate and Foreign Policy
Ron Jacobs
Maduro, Guaidó and American Exceptionalism
John Laforge
Nuclear Power Can’t Survive, Much Less Slow Climate Disruption
Joyce Nelson
Venezuela & The Mighty Wurlitzer
Jonathan Cook
In Hebron, Israel Removes the Last Restraint on Its Settlers’ Reign of Terror
Ramzy Baroud
Enough Western Meddling and Interventions: Let the Venezuelan People Decide
Robert Fantina
Congress, Israel and the Politics of “Righteous Indignation”
Dave Lindorff
Using Students, Teachers, Journalists and other Professionals as Spies Puts Everyone in Jeopardy
Kathy Kelly
What it Really Takes to Secure Peace in Afghanistan
Brian Cloughley
In Libya, “We Came, We Saw, He Died.” Now, Maduro?
Nicky Reid
The Councils Before Maduro!
Gary Leupp
“It’s All About the Benjamins, Baby”
Jon Rynn
What a Green New Deal Should Look Like: Filling in the Details
David Swanson
Will the U.S. Senate Let the People of Yemen Live?
Dana E. Abizaid
On Candace Owens’s Praise of Hitler
Raouf Halaby
‘Tiz Kosher for Elected Jewish U.S. Officials to Malign
Rev. William Alberts
Trump’s Deceitful God-Talk at the Annual National Prayer Breakfast
W. T. Whitney
Caribbean Crosswinds: Revolutionary Turmoil and Social Change 
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Avoiding Authoritarian Socialism
Howard Lisnoff
Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Anti-immigrant Hate
Ralph Nader
The Realized Temptations of NPR and PBS
Cindy Garcia
Trump Pledged to Protect Families, Then He Deported My Husband
Thomas Knapp
Judicial Secrecy: Where Justice Goes to Die
Louis Proyect
The Revolutionary Films of Raymundo Gleyzer
Sarah Anderson
If You Hate Campaign Season, Blame Money in Politics
Victor Grossman
Contrary Creatures
Tamara Pearson
Children Battling Unhealthy Body Images Need a Different Narrative About Beauty
Peter Knutson
The Salmon Wars in the Pacific Northwest: Banning the Rough Customer
Binoy Kampmark
Means of Control: Russia’s Attempt to Hive Off the Internet
Robert Koehler
The Music That’s in All of Us
Norah Vawter
The Kids Might Save Us
Tracey L. Rogers
Freedom for All Begins With Freedom for the Most Marginalized
Paul Armentano
Marijuana Can Help Fight Opioid Abuse
Tom Clifford
Britain’s Return to the South China Sea
Graham Peebles
Young People Lead the Charge to Change the World
Matthew Stevenson
A Pacific Odyssey: Around General MacArthur’s Manila Stage Set
B. R. Gowani
Starbucks Guy Comes Out to Preserve Billionaire Species
David Yearsley
Bogart Weather
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail