The hidden link between capitalism, social unrest, state violence, and corruption is becoming more and more exposed all over the world. Iraqis do not need to be explained this: George W. Bush is not only killing them on a daily basis, but also privatizing their economy in record time, while giving most contracts to his family?s and friends? companies. Meanwhile, a puppet Iraqi authority, appointed by the USA, provides pseudo-legitimacy, and gets ready for the moment in which the Imperial master decides to leave the country in Iraqi hands.
The Bush administration plan to leave their footprints all over their new acquisition before they hand over power to the natives.
Needless to say, there is nothing extraordinarily new to this. The end of this story is well known ? we have seen it over and over again in many other regions. The sequence of USA involvement in Iraq reproduces the features and stages of capitalism?s expansion since the nineteenth century, especially (but not only) in Africa and the Middle East:
After stage three, the colonial Empires of the past usually claimed that their mission had been accomplished: the “white man?s burden” or “mission civilisatrice” had been honored.
In the tricky narrative of capitalist expansion, however, the two stages that often followed this “happy ending” of Imperial intervention belong to a different series, seemingly without connection to the colonial past. In the “official history” of civilization, the scenario of social, political and economic instability and dependence that more or less followed colonial intervention throughout the planet is always blamed on the incapacity (or stupidity, or barbarity, or moral shortcomings, or backwardness, you name it) of the natives. So, the sequence continues:
Recent developments in Afghanistan and Iraq indicate that a sixth stage might become customary from now on:
The history of Iraq displays all six stages: the British “invention” of the country we now call Iraq during the First World War and the setting up of transnational oil companies (stage one and two), was followed by the establishment of a (Western) monarchical constitution and negotiated independence in 1930 (stage three). After the Second World War a long period of political instability and coups d??tat followed (stage four), accompanied by British and American constant “informal” interventions in defense of oil and geopolitical interests (stage five). One of the factions that the USA supported was that of Saddam Hussein, who was later to become their enemy number one. The rest of the story is well known: the first Gulf War of 1991 was followed by direct military occupation of the country in 2003 (stage six/one).
The sequence of Iraq?s past serves to illuminate its most probable future. The USA military adventure is now struggling to advance from stage two to stage three, that is, the splendid departure.
Happy endings, however, do not seem to be likely in the case of Iraq. There is a fundamental difference between the British and the present Imperial episodes. Nobody believes in the narrative of progress and civilization any more ?neither the cynic American politicians, nor the global public opinion or the Iraqis. The utter lack of legitimacy of any pro-Western institutional arrangement, and the evident fact that the new “market” economy will benefit anybody but the Iraqis, announce a difficult time for the American “nation builders”.
In this context, it is hard to imagine a long period of stability between an unlikely splendid departure and the beginning of stages four to five; it is improbable indeed that a (at least formally) democratic political life may be combined with a durable pro-Western orientation. If the USA ever finds the right moment for departure (a chance that, by the way, they are desperately longing for), it seems the most obvious scenario for Iraq?s future that the sequence of instability-jeopardizing of Western interests-intervention will overlap all in one.
True, the Empire (be it the USA or the UN) may re-initiate the sequence at any time, simply by deciding that the natives are still too brutish to rule themselves. But the whole effectiveness of the “civilization” narrative collapses if the “learner” does not seem to be learning at all. Without legitimacy, the Empire will probably be dragged to a permanent low-intensity military intervention ?just as in the present. In any case, even without Saddam, Iraq?s future looks gloomy in the new world of the permanent global war; but so does the Empire?s.
Article courtesy of ZNet Sustainers Magazine