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Pushing the Envelope in Iraq

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With both the rate, the coordination, and the success of attacks against ?coalition? troops increasing exponentially since before the beginning of Ramadan, it?s been a bad few weeks for the new occupier of Baghdad?s Republican palace, and no better for the other illegal President over the water in Washington. The one a mere underling of the other, Paul Bremer has been summarily summoned to the White House for talks on how to “push the envelope” further in Iraq (euphemism for “get your f***ing act together, Bremer!"). 
Don?t be too hard on the man! Paul Bremer?s job in Iraq was impossible from the start - Iraq simply cannot be made in America?s image.
Both Bush and Bremer, and their countless mouthpieces in journalism, academia, and foreign governments, have been doing their best to put the blame for the crisis firmly on the shoulders of the Coalition Provisional Authority. They say the Bush administration is tired of the Coalition Provisional Authority’s internal squabbling (which tends invariably to go along with democratic discussion), and with the unhelpful laws that the Coalition Provisional Authority insists on passing (only to have them blocked by Bremer), and they say that progress should be made more quickly on the setting up of a new constitution, “so that free elections can take place”. Only then, they warn can a proper government be set up, and “power be given fully back to Iraqis themselves”.

A casual observer would see the flaw in such thinking. Of course, as any young college student knows in theory, and any thinking adult knows in practice, in a post-conflict society, to make sure that power is truly and verifiably given to the people, elections should be held before anything else, on the formation of a transitional government, which when elected would be given a mandate to draw up a constitution to be voted on later. To suggest that any constitution is legitimate, one that was created before the people had a chance to vote on its content, is to fly in the face of all logic, all honesty.

But one has only to look at the examples of the Egyptian and Roman empires to understand that it is a typical strategy of all imperial plutocrats, to turn natural justice on its head, and to divert the natural development of democratic societies.  Looking at today, in Iraq and elsewhere, the results are clear to see in the radicalisation of oppressed people like those in Iraq, and in the increasing violence being conducted by those such as Iraqis against the Empire?s rank and file ‘cannon fodder’ on the ground. The fact that the media and foreign governments have largely not questioned such inversions of logic and morality is merely a reflection on their own bad faith.

Looking at these historical precedents and many others, it is clear that the objectives of invasion and occupation are usually twofold. Firstly, all the countries assets, and all reconstruction projects - in this case including the reconstruction and future control of roads, bridges, railways, major buildings, oil fields, pipes, and installations, must be quickly and irrevocably sold off to foreign backers of the invading power, to pay-off those who will become useful some time in the future. Secondly, the major objective is to obtain strategic regional hegemony for themselves, by guaranteeing a continued military presence in the country, and by making sure that before any nominal power (in this case voting rights) is handed back to the people, a constitution is entrenched that will allow full access to the country by the invading power (and it?s backers).
National hero, cowboy politician, or international tyrant? George Bush has big plans for the Wild East.
One has only to look at the examples of countless despicable rulers throughout history to see also that the typical reaction of tyrannical rulers is to blame underling figures and institutions for their own failures. In emulation of both the psychology and political tactics of their Likud Party companions in Israel, who ritually blame the Palestinian Authority for the increasing unrest amongst those whose lands have been occupied, whose children have been killed, whose houses have been destroyed, whose jobs have been taken, and whose national wealth has been looted, the Bush administration has likewise learned to blame the Coalition Provisional Authority for its own faults.

Like bad workmen blaming their tools, they ignore the fact that the Coalition Provisional Authority is their own creation. Even assuming that some members of the Coalition Provisional Authority may have the interests of both peace and the Iraqi people at heart, the Bush administration and their mouthpieces ignore the fact that the Coalition Provisional Authority have been purposefully denied any power to solve the problem ? which predates the creation of the body anyway.

The determined adherence to war goals, despite the obvious danger to both occupying troops and innocent civilians alike, and the blind projection of blame for their own misdeeds and failings onto subordinates, has been a characteristic of post-cold war USA foreign policy ? from the slow and purposeful destruction of Yugoslavia, to Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq today. But it has also been almost a determining characteristic of all empires throughout history, and it speaks loudly of the arrogance and corruption of a power that has passed its zenith, and is about to fall into slow and painful disintegration.

To end on a hopeful note, I’m reminded of the a passage from James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’. “History,” Stephen says, “is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” Lessons from history are useful, only so far as they tell us where we’ve been before. Only unimaginative fools, and old-style tyrants such as George Bush and his entourage try to remake it, by following the mindset and examples from previous nightmarish figures. Looking away from the history books, at the unprecedented forms and levels of political debate and activism, it’s just possible that something new could change history forever.


Published Wednesday, November 12th, 2003 - 02:47pm GMT

The World Crisis Web is edited by Danny Dayus.

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