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After Iraq?
by Khaldoun Samman
07 April 2003 15:02 UTC
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A useful reflection on what the future may look like
after the US gets through with Iraq - Khaldoun 

"Iraq is not just about Iraq" 




Wolfowitz of Arabia 

"Shortly after Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld
issued a stark warning to Iran and Syria last week,
declaring that any 'hostile acts' they committed on
behalf of Iraq might prompt severe consequences, one
of President Bush's closest aides stepped into the
Oval Office to warn him that his unpredictable defense
secretary had just raised the specter of a broader
confrontation. Mr. Bush smiled a moment at the latest
example of Mr. Rumsfeld's brazenness, recalled the
aide. Then he said one word - 'Good' - and went back
to work." 

That is from David Sanger's piece in today's New York
Times, which also includes the following chilling
quote from "a senior administration official who
played a crucial role in putting the strategy
together": "Iraq is not just about Iraq."...) 

War, postwar, and future war all are merging in this
moment as the Pentagon, which essentially has become
the foreign policy arm of our new imperial government,
attempts to push aside the State Department (and the
CIA) to set up the unilateralist occupation of
Japan... sorry, Germany... sorry, Iraq that the
neocons have all been planning for and dreaming about
for a decade. Jane Perlez of the Times tells us today
that "the Americans are scouring the region for
armor-plated vans" for the diplomats and retired
generals of the "interim" occupation government to use
once they are in Iraq (a defense against bouquets
undoubtedly). They are also being "given lessons on
what to do in Baghdad if they were taken hostage." The
new occupation government, still the object of fierce
bureaucratic warfare in Washington, is reportedly to
be moved into Umm Qasr sometime this week, a town long
declared “liberated” and under "coalition" control. 

But in a piece in the British Independent, Patrick
Nicholson, a Catholic relief worker, indicates that
even in the Shia south, where anti-Saddam sentiment
was sky high, the "real war" looks quite different
from the one seen on American television: 

"I have recently returned from Angola where I
witnessed haunting scenes of poverty but I never
expected to see the same levels of misery in Iraq, a
country floating on oil. 

I visited Umm Qasr as part of a Catholic Agency for
Overseas Development (Cafod) emergency response team,
and had been led to believe it was a town under
control, where the needs of the people were being met.
The town is not under control. It's like the Wild
West, and even the most serious humanitarian concern,
water, is not being adequately administered. 


There is a lot of anger toward Westerners in Umm Qasr,
triggered by bitter disappointment at their
'liberation'. They feel they have been given false
expectations and are scared by the breakdown in social
order in the town. I saw no obvious Allied presence
and the normal structures of schools, government and
police has disappeared. But the people are hopeful for
a future without Saddam Hussein. However bad the
situation today, they told me, it was better than
under Saddam's regime." 

This is a small snapshot of the land now to be
occupied. A more panoramic view, offered us by Warren
Vieth of the Los Angeles Times, is hardly more
reassuring when it comes to a nation in rubble with "a
debt load bigger than that of Argentina, a cash flow
crunch rivaling those of Third World countries, a
mountain of unresolved compensation claims, a shaky
currency, high unemployment, galloping inflation and a
crumbling infrastructure expected to sustain more
damage before the shooting stops.... Bathsheba
Crocker, director of the Post-War Reconstruction
Project... said Iraq's oil money is not the panacea
many Bush officials seem to think it is." 

Now, mainly with the help of the British press, let's
consider the occupation to come... to the extent that
it's now imaginable. For all the wartime talk in the
media and the administration about the "coalition of
the willing," this will clearly be a unilateralist
occupation of the most extreme sort, few Iraqis, less
Brits (except for "a small contingent of British
soldiers" Jane Perlez tells us, meant to provide the
officials of the new government with in-country
security), no Spaniards, Bulgarians, Rumanians,
Italians, or Micronesians, nor, as far as I can tell,
other representatives of the "coalition." And
certainly not - Condi Rice made this more than clear
yesterday - those weasels at the UN, which at best is
expected to pony up some money and some humble
humanitarian assistance. And, oh yes, I almost forgot
this one entirely, no Arabs from the various "allied"
governments in the Gulf region, and for the time
being, few Iraqis, exile or otherwise. As presently
imagined, it's the sort of occupation of hubris that
quite naturally follows from the dreams of the men who
run the Earth's hyperpower with their stated "foreign
policy" of disarming the world by force and striking
where they want at will. 

The centrist economists and analysts quoted in Vieth's
piece are calling for a new Marshall plan, but the man
the British Observer tells us has already been dubbed
"Wolfowitz of Arabia" is insisting to Congress that
Iraqi oil revenues will cover most of the
reconstruction costs (which they won't). Perhaps
that's because a postwar occupation of the kind
Wolfowitz and his boss Donald Rumsfeld envision seems
to ensure that Iraq will never be "reconstructed."
Certainly, the American people aren't about to pay for
it, nor is this government about to make them. And by
the time the administration accepts that this part of
the "burden" of empire is really work only suited to
"mad dogs and Englishmen," it may be far too late. 

Already, according to The Observer, many humanitarian
relief groups have refused to work under such an
occupation. (Only the fundamentalist Christian relief
organizations, already waiting in Kuwait, are eager to
enter Iraq under the wing of the interim government,
to spread the good word.) As for the occupation regime
itself, as the British press has reported, it is to be
run by Jay Garner, a retired general who is the
president of a company involved in the making of the
Patriot missile. The information ministry is, if the
Pentagon has anything to say about it, to be run by
former CIA director James Woolsey. What a relief, 50
years after the fall of Iran's Mossadegh, the CIA can
finally be openly involved in setting up governments
in the Middle East. Woolsey, of course, believes that
we are already in World War IV, while the future
"viceroy" of Baghdad, former ambassador to Yemen
Barbara Bodine, is, according to The Observer well
known for her "fervent hostility to a politically
organised Muslim world." 

For more on Woolsey, check out David Corn's weblog on
The Nation online, which lays out the former CIA
chief's incestuous relationship with one faction of
the Iraqi exile community. And Jim Lobe in an upcoming
Nation piece, offers the following advice: 

"If you want to figure out whether the administration
of President George W. Bush intends a crusade -- and a
unilateral one, if necessary -- to ''remake the Middle
East'' in the wake of Washington's presumed military
victory in Iraq, watch what happens with R. James
Woolsey... If he soon pops up in Baghdad, you can bet
that the 'clash of civilisations' is imminent, if it
hasn't begun already." 

As the Observer piece concludes, "One senior former
diplomat in Baghdad and elsewhere in the region told
The Observer: 'There are no serious Arabists left in
the government now; only those who have been telling
the White House what it wants to hear. The dragons
have taken over'." 

All of these prospective occupation figures --
including Douglas Feith, the third man at the Pentagon
and evidently the list-maker for the Pentagon's Iraq
regime, -- either sit on the Defense Policy Board
(until recently led by Richard Perle) and/or are close
to Wolfowitz and/or Rumsfeld. Though this 'interim'
government will have to report to Gen. Tommy Franks
(and so to Rumsfeld), what we are seeing here is not
simply military rule of a conquered Iraq, but
military-industrial rule, as Ed Vulliamy and Oliver
Morgan indicate in another Observer piece. 

Just my curiosity perhaps, but why do we have to go to
the British press to get all the connections of the
men and women who are in the running to run this
occupation -- and the interests behind them? Compare
the Observer piece, for instance, with the fuzzier
piece in The Washington Post by Karen DeYoung and Dan
Morgan, or the Perlez offering in The New York Times
mentioned earlier. At least the Post gives us a sense
of how secretive this process has been. General Garner
has not even been made available to Congress for

-- Tom Engelhardt

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