Monday, May 29, 2006

The Corporate Takeover of Iraq

Here's a superb review of Antonia Juhasz's excellent new book 'The Bush Agenda: Invading the World One Economy at a Time', from today's Morning Star. www.morningstaronline.co.uk
Essential reading for any poor deluded souls (yes Eustonistas, I'm referring to you) who still think that Bush and Blair invaded Iraq to ' spread democracy'.

Selling off Iraq
(Monday 29 May 2006)
The Bush Agenda: Invading the World One Economy at a Time by Antonia Juhasz
(Duckworth, £10.99)

JOHN MOORE learns more of Washington's wholesale sell-off of Iraq in a new study of the events that took place post-invasion.

WHAT was the motivation behind the Bush administration's unprovoked invasion of Iraq?
Its central purpose was to gain control of the oil, but there was even more on the agenda than that.
Antonia Juhasz describes in convincing detail the economic invasion of Iraq - a case study in corporate-driven globalisation strategy.
A series of orders issued by Paul Bremer, the president's envoy in Iraq and administrator of the coalition provisional authority, had full legal force over all Iraqis.
Designed to "liberalise" the economy, the orders included privatisation of all Iraq's 192 government-owned industries, including water, electricity, schools and hospitals.
They allowed complete foreign ownership of all Iraqi businesses, including the banking sector, with unrestricted repatriation of profits.
Foreign investors have been given 40-year leases on Iraqi real estate, with unlimited renewal options and with any dispute to be taken to international courts.
All tariffs and other charges on imports are ended, as are farming subsidies, leaving the market open to a flood of cheap foreign goods, such as US wheat imports.
The vice-chairman of the US rice council told a house committee that the liberation of Iraq freed the Iraqi people and "also provided hope for the US rice industry." The WTO, the World Bank and the IMF could not have been better pleased.
As they are regarded as valid Iraqi legislation, Bremer's orders are unaffected by the new constitution, which, in fact, endorses their principles.
Anyone who seeks to quarrel with those will get no access to the billions of dollars administered by the US ambassador, who will continue to reward Shi'ite leaders who are prepared to smooth the way to the big prize of permanent US contracts for access to the oil.
Whatever the final terms of the agreements between the Iraqi government and the international oil companies, the contracts will have terms of 25 to 40 years and the thinking is that they will not be affected by changes to the country's laws made by a future Iraqi government.
Moreover, US representatives have been put in key places in all government ministries for five years, even though a permanent Iraqi government is supposedly in place.
This travesty of democracy is the start of US-style market capitalism for the Middle East - what Bush has called a "US Middle East free trade area."
US corporations would continue to earn the lavish rewards received in Iraq - where unemployment is 50 per cent and the water, electricity and sewage projects are an acknowledged failure - with the potential for far greater earnings.
In contrast, a 2004 US government study reported that, for Muslims, the US occupation has led to "only more chaos and suffering."
Another US poll concluded that 80 per cent of Iraqis believe that the coalition forces are attacked because they are trying to steal Iraq's wealth.
The US military hopes to stay there as long as necessary to keep the oil secure, but the resistance movements put this plan at risk.
It is a commonplace observation that the Bush administration is "radicalising" Iraq and the Middle East and stimulating insurgency against military personnel, as well as international terrorism against civilians.
Juhasz lays out the imperialist agenda and shows the increasing challenge to it worldwide, especially in the Middle East.
Her greatest merit is to bring together the peace and the anti-globalisation movements in a common cause.
JOHN MOORE

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