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The Purpose of the U.S. Invasion and Occupation of Iraq [View All]

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-01-07 06:00 PM
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The Purpose of the U.S. Invasion and Occupation of Iraq
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We hope Iraq will be the first domino and that Libya and Iran will follow. We dont like being kept out of markets because it gives our competitors an unfair advantage John Gibson, chief executive, Halliburton Energy Service Group, 2003.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq was not preemption; it was like our war on Mexico in 1846 an avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked war against a foe who posed no immediate threat but whose defeat did offer economic advantages Michael Scheuer, former senior CIA al-Qaeda expert.


There are many Americans who believe that our invasion of Iraq was a big mistake, or even a crime, but still believe we are obligated to stay there until we stabilize the country. Many who believe this have the best of motivations.

But in order to fully evaluate the justification for continued U.S. occupation of Iraq, it is essential to understand the purpose of the invasion. Specifically, it is important to realize that the purpose of the invasion and the purpose of the occupation are one and the same. Once this is understood, it becomes crystal clear that continued U.S. occupation will continue to produce the same catastrophic results for the American people and, more importantly, for the Iraqis to whom George Bush claims to wish to bring democracy. Antonia Juhasz, in her book, The Bush Agenda Invading the World, One Economy at a Time, provides the clearest explanation and documentation for George Bushs agenda in Iraq that I have yet seen:


Dick Cheneys Energy Task Force

One big clue to the Bush administrations intentions for Iraq can be seen in the National Energy Policy Development Group (usually referred to as the Energy Task Force), which was convened by Dick Cheney in January 2001, ten days following his inauguration several months prior to the September 11 attacks that supposedly provided the motivation for the war. Juhasz describes the results of the Energy Task Force meetings:

The first recommendation followed by a graph showing Iraq oil output to the United States in 2000 was to make energy security a priority of our trade and foreign policy. The second recommendation was for the United States to support initiatives by Mid-East suppliers to open up areas of their energy sectors to foreign investment.

Two years after they were drawn up, legal proceedings forced the Bush White House to reveal a series of lists and maps prepared by the Task Force that outlined Iraqs entire oil productive capacity and the foreign countries and companies lined up for contracts the companies within the Task Force had been closed out of Iraqs oil market and were watching from the sidelines (because of U.S. sanctions against Iraq) as the countrys oil was divvied up to everyone but them. With the tragedy of September 11, 2001, a series of paths that had been in development for at least a decade would finally join and find an open door for a march into Iraq.


The Bush economic plan for Iraq

But it wasnt just oil. War with Iraq provided a bonanza of opportunities for Bush and Cheneys already wealthy corporate friends and supporters. Juhasz explodes the myth that George Bush didnt have a well thought out plan for post-conflict Iraq:

There was at least one clear plan an economic plan the blueprint for which was ready and in Bush administration hands at least two months prior to the invasion. The 107-page three-year contract between the Bush administration and Bearing Point, Inc. of McLean, Virginia, lays out the presidents economic agenda in Iraq. In return for $250 million, Bearing Point provided technical assistance to the U.S. Agency for International Development on the restructuring of the Iraqi economy to meet Bush administration goals

Bearing Point wrote the framework to restructure Iraq from a state-controlled economy to one that guarantees free markets, free trade and private property among other goals to recommend changes to laws that impede private sector development, trade and investment undertaking a mass privatization of Iraqs state-owned industries.

Bearing Points Draft Statement of Work, Stimulating Economic Recovery, Reform and Sustained Growth in Iraq, was completed on February 21, 2003. While it was not available to the public, I was made aware of the document

The extent to which the Bearing Point contract sets out to transform the Iraqi economy is astonishing. The company specifies changes in every sector of the Iraqi economy It even specifies propaganda tools to sell these policies to the Iraqi public.


The Bremer Orders

Upon completion of the successful invasion of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III was appointed by George W. Bush as the administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) starting on May 6, 2003. For a little over a year, Bremer had essentially dictatorial authority in Iraq. He used that authority to write one hundred Orders, the great majority of which still today provide the basics of Iraqi law under the U.S. occupation. The content of those orders says volumes about the motivation for the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.

De-Baathification and disbanding of the Iraqi military
The de-Baathification order removed all Baath party members from government, resulting in the firing of 120,000 of Iraqs most experienced civil servants. Bremers second order dissolved the Iraqi army, thus putting a half a million men out of work when unemployment in the country was already approximately 60%. Thus, with Bremers first two orders, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who could have been of great use in preserving order and rebuilding their country, were instead cast into desperate conditions. It is widely believed that many or most of these men became part of the insurgency. Juhasz explains the futility of the two orders:

Retired Colonel Scott Feil told the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2002 that the rank-and-file soldiers would be essential to preserving order in post-invasion Iraq Instead, Bremer disbanded the military and refused to continue to pay their salaries. He handed security and reconstruction work to private U.S. contractors and the U.S. military. He even eliminated benefits to war widows and disabled veterans

But these two orders did serve a useful purpose for George Bush: The loss of so many skilled Iraqis from the work force helped to pave the way for U.S. corporations, and the lack of a viable Iraqi army provided the primary justification for the continued U.S. military occupation.

Trade liberalization
Bremers Trade Liberalization Policy immediately suspended tariffs, subsidies, and other measures designed to protect the Iraqi economy and people, thus devastating local industries and businesses. The measures were very similar to those that the IMF, World Bank, and WTO have been hoisting on poor countries for many years now, with devastating effects for local populations. Bremer was in fact well aware of the devastating effects of these policies on local populations because he had spent many years counseling corporations about them:

In a November 2001 paper entitled New Risks in International Business, Bremer outlined the risks to multinational corporations associated with the implementation of corporate globalization policies. Every policy Bremer describes in this paper was among those he himself implemented in Iraq a year and a half later. Bremer walks through the devastating impacts of each policy on the local population the same impacts that his policies would inflict on Iraq. Bremer warns companies that the painful consequences of globalization are felt long before its benefits are clear (translation: long before the corporate profits have time to trickle down to the local population). Bremer cites several specific globalization policies, such as privatization of state enterprises, deregulation of controlled industries, and reductions of tariffs and nontariff barriers to open up trade in goods and services. In the paper, Bremer explains that privatization of basic services, for example, almost always leads to price increases for those services, which in turn often lead to protests or even physical violence against the operator. As for economic equality, Bremer says, the process of globalization has a disparate impact on incomes,
which in turn causes political and social tensions. The harmful impact on local producers causes enormous pressure on trade monopolies when opening markets to foreign trade

Bremer was therefore well aware that his policies would, at a minimum, reduce access to basic services and support for local businesses in favor of foreign businesses. He also knew the policies would increase inequality and political and social tension. However, he believed that he knew how to protect U.S. multinationals from the impact of these policies and therefore the policies went forward, ever clear on who the intended beneficiaries were


Suppression of news media
Order # 14 defined prohibited media activity, which essentially meant any activity that produced news contrary to the purposes of the American occupation. Don North, a CPA contractor, describes some of the effects:

They visited the offices of offending newspapers and often left them padlocked and in ruins. There was no mediation, no appeal.

Foreign investment
The Foreign Investment Order provided the legal framework for the invasion of U.S. corporations into Iraq. It provided for the privatization of Iraqs state-owned enterprises, foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses, tax-free remittance of all profits, immunity of foreign businesses from Iraqi courts, and much else. As with everything else about the U.S. occupation, these provisions did great damage to the Iraqi people, for the benefit of U.S. corporations. Juhasz describes the effects of privatization of Iraqi industries:

In Bremers own words, Restructuring inefficient state enterprises requires laying off workers. Even those workers who still had jobs in Iraq at the time only received about half of what they made before the war. At the same time, prices skyrocketed.

And with respect to the lack of any constraints on foreign corporations:

U.S. corporations are therefore invited to enter the Iraqi economy, exploit a nation at its most vulnerable point, with no obligation to reinvest in the country at a time when rebuilding Iraq is professed to be the Bush administrations most vital assignment. U.S. corporations have reaped staggering revenues from their Iraqi operations Chevron, Bechtel, and Halliburton have each experienced skyrocketing returns to their Iraqi endeavors.

Some other oppressive orders
All foreign contractors and military personnel were given full immunity from the pre-existing laws of Iraq, both criminal and civil even for crimes like rape, torture and murder; Iraqs progressive income tax was replaced by a flat tax, so that the wealthy paid the same percentage tax as everyone else; bank laws opened the banking sector to foreign banks; Americans were placed in numerous key government positions; and patent laws were strengthened so that even some traditional medicines that Iraqis had used for free for generations were priced out of their affordable range.


The effect on the effort to rebuild Iraq

In the hands of U.S. corporations, the effort to rebuild Iraq was a miserable failure:

The Bush administration failed in this mission because it did not focus its efforts on the immediate provision of needs, but rather on the opening of Iraq to private foreign corporations Iraqis have continually pointed to the lack of electricity as a primary source of unrest electricity has remained far below prewar levels and significantly below U.S. stated goals

The result was frequent blackouts and the availability of electricity for only a few hours a day, with air conditioning unavailable much of the time in the face of outside temperatures of 130 degrees.

Lack of potable water and sewage treatment has been another continuing and major problem:

The full failure of the reconstruction was revealed in a January 2006 U.S. government audit. Although more than 93% of the U.S. appropriation has been spent or committed to specific companies and projects, as much as much as 60% of all water and sewer projects will not be completed


On the exclusion of Iraqis from the rebuilding effort

The Bechtel Corporation is the largest engineering firm in the world and has been a major Republican donor for many decades. On April 17, 2003, it was awarded a $680 million contract for work in Iraq. Juhasz describes how the focus on corporate profit and the exclusion of nations who didnt support Bushs war effort led to disaster:

What Bechtel employees discovered after five long months was that the systems were in far greater need and more difficult to repair than they had assumed a problem greatly exaggerated when the Bush administration banned countries that had not supported the invasion from profiting from the occupation. Thus, Iraqs electricity and water systems were unable to receive replacement parts This was all information that expert Iraqis could have easily conveyed to Bechtel from the start, had Bremer not fired the vast majority of them and had Bechtel asked

These factors all combined to reduce Bechtels ability to fulfill its contracts with the U.S. government and its obligations to the Iraqi people. They did not, however, reduce Bechtels financial rewards. In April 2004, the Bush administration reduced the expectations for Bechtels contract, but not its dollar figure

The exclusion of Iraqis from the rebuilding effort caused a great deal of resentment, greatly hampered the reconstruction effort, and made the project much more expensive for the American taxpayer and future generations of Americans:

A young college-educated Iraqi woman captured the sentiments of millions of Iraqis when she wrote, Instead of bringing in thousands of foreign companies that are going to want billions of dollars, why arent the Iraqi engineers, electricians, and laborers being taken advantage of? Thousands of people who have no work would love to be able to rebuild Iraq No one is being given a chance

Hiring Iraqi companies in the place of American companies would mean not only more money for Iraq but also increased savings for the American taxpayer The Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) estimated that the costs to American taxpayers of many reconstruction projects could be reduced by 90 percent if the projects were awarded to local Iraqi companies


The scapegoating of the Iraqis for failures caused by U.S. corporate greed

Of course nobody would expect the Bush administration or his corporate supporters to accept any blame for the numerous failures of the reconstruction effort (or anything else in Iraq):

Nobody at Bechtel or in the U.S. government denies that the water and electricity reconstruction has failed However, Bechtel and some Bush administration officials point the finger at the Iraqis They blame a poor Iraqi work ethic and a lack of knowledge and skill

Iraqis may be unable to run the systems built by Bechtel in Iraq, but a poor work ethic and lack of knowledge are not to blame. Recall that Bremer fired the upper echelons of Iraqi management, sidestepped skilled engineers and workers, hired Bechtel to build state-of-the-art facilities foreign to these workers, and then handed the systems over as a fait accompli, whether or not they were even connected to the homes they were intended to serve

The other problem is money. Iraqis simply do not have enough of it to run the expensive new facilities that they have been handed. The money has gone to U.S. contractors to (largely fail to) build Iraqs systems, rather than to the Iraqis to run the systems after they have been rebuilt Lack of money and skill in running public sectors has always been used as a reason for privatization. Bechtel may well position itself as the only company with the ability to run the facilities that it has built, opening the door for its entrance as a privatizer.


Iraq prior to the first Gulf War

In considering the effects of the U.S. invasion and occupation on Iraq, it is worth while to acknowledge the state of the Iraq nation prior to the first Gulf War. Juhasz describes that:

Prior to 1990, Iraq had the highest percentage of college-educated citizens in the Middle East Health care reached approximately 97% of the urban population and 78% of rural residents, while the infant mortality rate was well below average for developing countries. Before 1991, the southern and central regions of Iraq had well-developed water and sanitation systems, and 90% of the population had access to an abundant quantity of safe drinking water. In fact, after the first Gulf War, when the U.S. military specifically targeted electricity and water systems for attack, Iraqi engineers rebuilt the electricity system in just three months.

In other words, while Iraq was a nation ravaged by a brutal dictator, war, and twelve years of economic sanctions, it was also a country of law, public services, education, and health care that was able to succeed in spite of its ruler because of a government and economic structure made functional by a knowledgeable and dedicated citizenry. It is difficult to overstate how far the Bremer Orders go to overturn the existing Iraqi economic structure. The Orders cover virtually every aspect of Iraqi life.


Missing billions

Many who criticize the U.S. war effort in Iraq describe that effort as incompetent and misguided, etcetera, but few use harsher words than that. But when billions of dollars go missing and there is little or no effort to account for them, I think that speaks volumes about the motivation for everything that the U.S. has done in Iraq. Juhasz describes circumstances which can best be described as extremely suspicious:

Billions of dollars of U.S. money committed to reconstruction have gone unspent in Iraq, been wasted, or are simply unaccounted for. The U.S. governments General Accounting Office reported in June 2004 that the CPA had spent virtually all of Iraqs money during the occupation but relatively little of its own. There were significantly more stringent reporting requirements (although, I would argue not stringent enough) on the U.S. appropriation than on the Development Fund for Iraq, for which there was virtually no accounting. To this day, a full $8.8 billion from the Fund remains completely unaccounted for while audits of U.S. taxpayer funds have found contract files unavailable, incomplete, inconsistent and unreliable. Halliburton has been found guilty and is under investigation for over $1.5 billion in overcharges for its Iraq services Halliburton was also found to have colluded with the U.S. Defense Department to keep these charges out of public purview


The fake transition of power

If the Bush administration was to actually hand power over to the Iraqis, that would defeat the whole purpose of the invasion. Juhasz describes how the Bush administration handed over the reigns of power in form but not in substance:

On June 28, 2004, in a secret ceremony in Baghdad, the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the United States was officially brought to an end The pomp far exceeded the substance of the event. It was a handover in name only, not in deed. For, not only did 149,000 troops remain on the streets of Iraq under U.S. control, but virtually all of Bremers 100 Orders remained in effect

Not only did the Allawi government leave the Bremer Orders in place, it dutifully enforced them as aggressively as Bremer himself

On the new constitution:

A handpicked group of Iraqi government officials made changes to the constitution even after the public document had been printed and distributed. Iraqis voted on a constitution which they had not even read.

The Bush administration claimed that it was heavily involved in the constitutional drafting process in order to ensure a separation of mosque and state and greater protections for women. If these were the administrations actual goals, then it failed miserably. The administration succeeded, however, in ensuring that the constitution locked in the Bremer Orders, continued the economic transformation, allowed for the continued military occupation, and increased U.S. access to Iraqs oil.

Attempts by Iraqi parliamentarians to include strong language on economic and social rights similar to those included in the 1970 Iraq constitution did not survive the drafting process. Whereas the 1970 constitution guaranteed free health care, education, and child and maternal care, the only parallel guarantee in the 2005 constitution is for free education


Oil

Juhasz notes that increased access to Iraqs oil has always been the major motivation behind the Iraq war. She notes that prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, U.S. oil companies had little or no access to Iraqi oil:

Since the 2003 invasion, however, imports have been far more steady and at consistently sizeable levels.Iraqs oil has therefore already contributed to skyrocketing oil company profits. So, too, it seems, has the myth of a dramatically reduced oil supply from the Middle East due to the Iraq War.

The model that won out was the Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) PSAs turn the entire exploration, drilling, and infrastructure building process over to private companies that lock in the laws in effect at the time the contract was signed

Before new oil contracts could be signed, the existing contracts had to be erased. This all-important step was taken back in May 2003 The U.S.-appointed senior advisor to the Iraqi Oil Ministry, Thamer al-Ghadban, announced that few, if any, of the dozens of contracts signed with foreign oil companies under the Hussein regime would be honored

The constitution does nothing to contradict the petroleum law, but rather reinforces its core provisions. Thus it appears that expanded private foreign corporate access to Iraqs oil wealth is all but guaranteed.


Overview of Bush accomplishments in Iraq

Thus, when people argue about whether the Iraq War and occupation has been a success or a failure they should specify who they are talking about. It certainly hasnt been a success for the Iraqis, who have suffered nearly a million deaths, four million refugees, and a devastated country. It certainly hasnt been a success for the American people, with nearly four thousand dead soldiers and a debt that our country will be paying off for several generations. But in terms of George Bush and Dick Cheneys agenda it has been a resounding success. Juhasz discusses the situation:

While violence increases daily in Iraq and the resistance grows, the Bush administration can be confident about a few things. First, the economic restructuring is well in place and moving forward Second, U.S. corporations continue to earn billions of dollars for work in Iraq and have the potential to earn far more. Third, a government is in place that, while not ideal, is certainly preferable to the previous regime in terms of its willingness to advance Bush administration goals. Fourth, and most important to many, the oil sector has been opened to U.S. corporate access and control all things considered, Bushs key political and corporate allies have much to be optimistic about.

The U.S. military will likely remain in Iraq until U.S. access to oil is solidly and securely in place. For U.S. corporations, this has meant ensuring the installment of a new, legal, and permanent Iraqi government with which they can sign permanent contracts. It also means security for corporate operations With the support of Iraqs laws and its constitution, the U.S. military will be the key to securing continued access to oil.

As President Bush has repeatedly said, Iraq is only the beginning. In the name of spreading peace and democracy, he has revealed plans to take his administrations model of imperial-style corporate globalization from Iraq to the rest of the Middle East Having begun in Iraq, U.S. corporations are once again in the lead, eager to expand their own interests elsewhere

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