CIA puppet installed to pacify Iraqi resistance — but will it work?

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Shootings, raids, two-ton bombs, edicts from the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), mass detentions, and even torture of detainees: all have failed to bring Iraq to heel. Now, Team Bush hopes that slapping an Iraqi face on U.S. control will succeed where CPA Administrator Paul Bremer failed.

On June 28, the “interim government” took office as Bremer fled Baghdad. He left Iraq an unholy mess, but one provided with numerous edicts dictating its political and economic future for years to come. The new regime, on paper at least, is to run the government, increase security, and prepare Iraq for elections in January 2005.

The switch took place against a backdrop of rising misery, with U.S. bombs pounding recalcitrant locales like Falluja.

At least 11,000 Iraqi civilians, many of them mothers and children, are dead, and the death toll for U.S. soldiers is approaching 1,000. U.S. taxpayers are pouring almost $5 billion per month into the war, and U.S. investors are staying away because the infrastructure is a wreck. Access to clean drinking water and electricity is rare. Cholera and typhus are pervasive, and only 5 percent of Iraq has a functioning sewage system. Other basic services are also in disarray.

Iraq is in the middle of a humanitarian crisis, one made by the USA. This is why the insurgency grows stronger and more organized with each passing month, and why polls show at least 80 percent of Iraqis loathe the U.S. occupiers and want them out of their country — now.

“Sovereignty” made in the USA. Before the handover took place, the new regime was already discredited. The original plan was for UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to appoint a transitional government. But his authority was quickly usurped by Bremer and the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council (IGC). They chose Iyad Allawi as Iraq’s new prime minister, and Brahimi dutifully rubber-stamped their decision.

Allawi is most famous as a CIA collaborator who, in 1996, led an unsuccessful coup attempt. Once appointed, he embraced the presence of 138,000 U.S. troops and the establishment of 14 permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq. He also quickly imposed martial law and restored the death penalty.

Allawi leads a cabinet of 26 ministers who were chosen in close consultation with Bremer and the puppet IGC. Many key positions in the “new” government are held by former IGC members, starting with Allawi.

Advising the regime is a 1,300-strong U.S. diplomatic mission, the largest in the world. It controls $18.4 billion in U.S. aid and is led by John Negroponte. From 1981-85, Negroponte served as U.S. ambassador to Honduras. Under his watch, U.S. military aid to Honduras swelled from $3.9 million to $77.4 million, while death squads and torture of political prisoners flourished.

Occupation, Inc. U.S. corporations with unsavory records will also remain, on the U.S taxpayer dole, to run key Iraqi operations.

DynCorp has 1,000 workers in Iraq to help provide “security” services. During the Balkan war, some of its employees were charged with sex trafficking and other crimes. In Colombia, its “help” in a coca-eradication program has devastated crops in neighboring Ecuador.

Stevedoring Services of America will continue to run the port at Umm Qasr. The Seattle-based multinational is notorious for unionbusting and privatizing, from the U.S. to Bangladesh.

California-based Bechtel, which has earned a reputation for accomplishing nothing, will continue to reap big bucks for pretending to repair Iraq’s basic systems, like water delivery. In Bolivia, Bechtel’s attempt to privatize water and hike prices met with massive protest.

Corporate globalization at gunpoint. If all this fails to hogtie Iraq, the occupiers have a million other ways.

Before fleeing, Bremer committed $19 billion of Iraq’s $20 billion in oil revenues for projects of his choosing. That move, along with Iraq’s massive foreign debt and UN-imposed penalties, ensures that Iraq will stay in the chains of the IMF and World Bank for years to come.

Bremer also passed a number of edicts that create a free-market haven for foreign investors: Iraq’s centralized economy will be dismantled and its state-run industries put up for purchase, available in their entirety to foreign investors. A 15 percent flat tax, which unfairly taxes rich and poor at equal rates, will be imposed. Tariffs, customs, and other means to protect the country’s domestic economy from a flood of foreign goods will be suspended. In sum, the U.S. has created another free-trade zone.

On the political front, a committee of seven Iraqis has the right to disqualify any party from running in the 2005 elections (should they even be held). The IGC has also refused to recognize the Federation of Workers Unions and Councils, leaving it in a limbo of illegality.

An empire in trouble. Despite their money and weapons, U.S. overseers face a fundamental problem — they are outnumbered. And their forces are spreading thinner as they attempt to squash not only Iraq’s insurgency, but also rebellion around the globe, from Afghanistan to Colombia.

Their reliance on U.S. workers to fight and pay for their dirty wars poses yet another challenge. These are the same workers who are being forced to tighten their belts and submit to the same privatization schemes, anti-labor policies, and crackdowns that are robbing Iraqis of their wealth, resources, and freedom. Antiwar and GI resistance is bound to blossom as the politicians institute a draft, extend the tours of duties of current soldiers, or both.

Iraqis are engaged in a multifaceted resistance to rid their country of the hated U.S. occupation. What they can’t do is stop the U.S. war machine from within. That is the job of those of us who live in the U.S., and the sooner we do it, the better. U.S. out of Iraq now!

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