From Democracy Now! (for
complete summary click here):
Questions Remain Over How Much Power Was Handed Over
Technically the handover of power ends the 14-month occupation of Iraq,
but many questions remain as to how much power the US has actually handed
over. The U.S. will keep 130,000 troops on the ground. US Ambassador John
Negroponte will head up the largest embassy in the world. The new
government will be barred from amending the interim constitution that was
drawn up by the US and the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council.
Before Leaving Bremer Puts Into Place Numerous Edicts
The US has put in place numerous laws to protect US forces and
contractors. On Saturday Bremer signed an edict that gave US soldiers and
military contractors immunity from Iraqi laws even after the handover of
power. The Washington Post reports Bremer has also issued a series of
other edicts that could affect how Iraq will be governed for years. He has
appointed at least two dozen Iraqis to government jobs with five-year
terms including Iraq's new national security advisor and national
intelligence chief. This means the US will have high-placed allies in
government regardless of who wins the upcoming Iraqi elections. Bremer has
also formed a seven-member election commission that will have the power to
disqualify political parties and candidates. Meanwhile it has been widely
reported Allawi is considering imposing martial law or issuing special
The U.S. Occupation of Iraq: An
Background Information on the Occupation of Iraq (by HIPJ, June
S u m m a r y
C o n t e n t s
The Bush administration's claims at bringing democracy to Iraq are a
hollow cover for the advancement of American corporate, military, and
strategic interests. From the Governing Council to town administrations,
Iraqis appointed to government positions have largely been
unrepresentative, unelected puppets with little power. Furthermore, U.S.
plans for June 30 will not mark any meaningful step towards Iraqi
sovereignty. The U.S. government intends to maintain control of Iraq's
military, and Rumsfeld has announced an escalation of U.S. troop
deployments. Paul Bremer has publicly admitted that the administration
has no definite plans for just who they intend to transfer sovereignty to
on that date. The administration has supported a UN proposal for transfer
to a "caretaker" government that will be appointed top-down, similar to
the current Governing Council.
We urge the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops and the phasing out of
U.S. corporate involvement in Iraq. Dates for general elections should be
set to coincide with this withdrawal, and to occur under the supervision
of an impartial international monitoring body. After withdrawal, the U.S.
should pay reparations for damaged infrastructure and its fraudulent
reconstruction contracts; it should contribute humanitarian aid, including
much-needed medical supplies. Claims on Iraq's oil revenues by U.S.
companies through the "Iraq Development Fund" and Trade Bank of Iraq,
currently managed by JP Morgan, should be declared void.
1) Why they said we went to war
2) The REAL reason we went to war: Iraq's strategic significance
3) Corporate profiteering and the new Iraqi economy
4) Life under occupation
Background to the conflict in Falluja
5) U.S. commitment to "democracy"
6) What does the June 30 transfer mean? Who is Ambassador John D. Negroponte?
7) Would a UN-led occupation be a solution?
1) Why they said we went to war
The Bush administration has made numerous claims to justify the war in
Iraq and the ongoing occupation. Their major claim was that Saddam
Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction that posed an immediate
threat to the security of the United States. Bush's sidekick Tony Blair
claimed that these weapons could be deployed and strike Britain within 45
minutes. Despite tremendous efforts on the part of the U.S. to find these
weapons, none so far have been uncovered. Leading weapons inspectors like
David Kay have publicly asserted that Iraq had no weapons of mass
destruction prior to the war - much like Scott Ritter, the former chief
weapons inspector, argued in the run up to the war.
2) The REAL reason we went to war: Iraq's strategic significance
The Bush administration also attempted to link Saddam Hussein's
administration to Al-Qaeda, another claim without a shred of proof.
After the public began to grow suspicious of these claims, Bush asserted
that the U.S. was going to Iraq in order to "liberate" the Iraqi people
and bring them "freedom" and "democracy." Yet the U.S. government was
responsible for helping to bring Saddam Hussein to power, and continued to
be one of his main sources of support until the Gulf War of 1991. At the
close of the first Gulf War, the U.S. allowed Hussein to crush an uprising
against his regime, even after urging rebellion. The occupation must be
seen in the context of this early support for Hussein, and the twelve
years of sanctions that the U.S. imposed after 1991 at tremendous cost to
The hypocrisy and lies of the U.S. are evident in the conduct of the
occupying forces. The U.S. has installed a puppet government, stopped or
nullified elections in a number of cities, violently repressed peaceful
public protests, raided and sacked the offices of Iraqi trade unions, and
shut down newspapers. This war was not about bringing democracy to Iraq.
Iraq's oil reserves are the second largest in the world and have the
potential to challenge Saudi Arabia as a guarantor of world oil price
stability - once the proper infrastructure is developed to tap into these
reservoirs. The Iraqi oil supply can be used to promote the interests of
U.S. multinational corporations and the government's economic agenda, as
long as they have control and access over it. Bush often proclaims Iraqi
oil is for the Iraqi people - but even if oil revenues did return to
Iraqis, this would be less significant for global economic leverage than
who has *control* and *access*. By invading Iraq and constructing a
government sympathetic to U.S. interests, the Bush administration is
investing in power over oil price fluctuations. Additionally, the U.S.
is now establishing permanent bases in Iraq for a stronger regional
3) Corporate profiteering and the new Iraqi economy
The so-called "Bremer orders" of September 2003 consisted of sweeping
economic reforms, including the sale of all of Iraq's national industries,
except oil, to private corporations. Although the orders flagrantly
violate international law on occupation, they have received little
coverage on the U.S. media. The reforms recall "shock therapy"
techniques implemented during the 1990s in countries like Argentina and
Russia, which intend to liberalize previously controlled economies and
have often resulted in economic catastrophe. They liberalize foreign
investment, taxes, and tariffs. For instance, the corporate tax rate has
been capped at an extremely low 15%. Worse, these orders were crafted to
be unrevisable by a future Iraqi government!
No democratically elected governing body chose these reforms for the Iraqi
economy; they demonstrate the Bush administration is more committed to
enforcing a "free and open market economy" - i.e., an economy dominated by
U.S. corporations - than to the rights and well-being of the Iraqi people.
Through the issuing no-bid contracts and these orders, American
corporations have come to dominate Iraq's economy.
The war has been better to no one than the corporations that make up a
military-industrial complex with the U.S. government. Besides major
defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman,
which received boosts from the invasion itself, Halliburton, Bechtel and
other corporate heavies have won no-bid contracts to "reconstruct" Iraq
and manage its infrastructure. As the products of cronyism, many
contracts were awarded to companies with histories of corruption, at huge
costs to U.S. taxpayers and the Iraqi people. For instance, Halliburton
has been caught overcharging for fuel imports from Kuwait to Iraq, by
nearly three-fold the price paid by Iraq's state oil company.
Halliburton has made over $2.2 billion from the war - a stark contrast to
its net losses of $498 million in the second quarter of 2002. When the
multinational telecommunications firm, MCI, was granted a $30 million
no-bid contract on mobile telecommunications, Senator Edward Kennedy
recalled that the firm was responsible for "the largest corporate fraud in
history," due to false reports of earnings that "caused substantial harm
to its employees and shareholders and to the telecommunications industry
as a whole." Several contractors in Iraq have already been penalized
millions of dollars by the U.S. government for fraud.
4) Life under occupation
The investments of U.S. corporations in Iraq are backed up risk-free by
the Iraq Development Fund, which is controlled by the Occupational
Authority and consists mainly of oil revenues. The Iraq Development Fund
was formerly the United Nation's oil-for-food program - its funds should
rightfully be spent on food and basic necessities for the Iraqi people,
but are being used to pay for contracts such as Halliburton's.
JP Morgan has been awarded management of the newly created Trade Bank of
Iraq. This bank replaces the U.N. oil-for-food program's international
trade functions. Unfortunately, the Trade Bank is set up to favor
companies from contributing nations, regardless of the quality and price
of their products. Through it, Iraqi ministries may borrow billions of
dollars to buy much needed equipment from overseas suppliers, but only by
mortgaging national oil revenues.
In spite of hefty contracts, "reconstruction" in Iraq has been shockingly
absent. Suffering most egregiously are hospitals, many of which were
bombed during the invasion, and which continue to face severe supply
shortages and filthy conditions - in Baghdad, doctors are forced to
operate while standing in raw sewage because of broken pumps. One year
after the invasion, roads and phones are in disrepair, electricity is
intermittent, and water is unsafe to drink. Bechtel, which was contracted
to repair schools, has left many untouched, while other supposedly
"rebuilt" schools were installed with faulty fans, fake plumbing, and
broken doors. Bechtel officials refused to listen to the advice and
warnings of school officials, telling them that those in charge of the
money would make the decisions. Reconstruction has been hindered by
corporate fraud and ineptitude in navigating Iraqi society - in one case,
Bechtel subcontracting the repair of 15 schools to a butcher. Meanwhile,
70-80% of Iraqis remain unemployed.
Many of the contracts could probably have been handled best by Iraqi
businesses, but most of them have gone to American corporations, which are
simply not fit to fulfill the contracts. The Boston Globe reports that
"prevented from working in Iraq since sanctions began, American firms have
no background in local market prices, materials, or the labor force and
little knowledge about several thousand Iraqi companies that come to them
seeking subcontracts." As a result, work is more costly, inefficient, and
mismanaged, while illegitimate and corrupt businesses often win the
Instead of hiring Iraqi employees, U.S. businesses have often hired
foreigners - from places like India and Texas - and paid them more than
their Iraqi counterparts. Why? Because Iraqis in general pose a
"security risk" to these corporations. Such policies fuel the staggering
unemployment in Iraq, one of the main forces contributing to growing
resistance to the occupation. At the same time, Iraqi businesses have
been shut down, adding to discontent. Iraqis are aware that the
occupation and contracted U.S. corporations are to blame for the lack of
reconstruction, and the continuing disintegration of their country and the
If occurring at all, most reconstruction has focused on the oil industry -
while hospitals, schools, and basic infrastructure are neglected. Yet
even much of the money for such efforts has not paid for reconstruction
per se, but rather for security costs, including private security
companies. Funding is falling significantly short of the required levels
in most aspects of "reconstruction" - but as long as more money is being
devoted to security and less to the reconstruction of basic infrastructure
and the improvement of living standards, the security situation will not
Demonstrating the true priorities of the Bush administration, U.S.
officials continue to enforce a Saddam-era law that they do find
appealing, despite the sweeping economic reforms of the Bremer orders (see
above section): a 1987 measure that prohibits workers in the state oil
industry from forming unions. In fact, the Coalition Provisional
Authority (CPA) did Saddam one better: last June, Bremer issued another
order that prohibited the organization of any workers' strike, the
punishment being treatment as a "prisoner of war." Those Iraqis who are
employed earn the same wages that they did under Saddam, even though food
and housing aid has diminished significantly under U.S. rule.
For the short-term, the U.S. economy has benefited; an April 30 New York
Times headline proclaimed: "U.S. Economy Grows 4.2%; War Spending
Provides Push." The question is at whose expense?
Recent photographs of torture in Iraqi prisons do not represent an
aberration, as Bush and Blair might have us interpret, but an
institutional pattern. The New Yorker disclosed a February 2004 report by
Major General Antonio M. Taguba not meant for public release, which offers
devastating conclusions about conditions in Army prisons that include
chemical burnings, beatings, sodomy, and attack dogs. Amnesty
International has documented abuses since the beginning of the invasion
and stated about the photos from Abu Ghraib prison: "Our extensive
research in Iraq suggests that this is not an isolated incident. It is not
enough for the USA to react only once images have hit the television
screens." In fact, CBS at first refrained from releasing the photos under
pressure from the Defense Department, which only caved when they had
already begun circulating publicly elsewhere.
5) U.S. commitment to "democracy"
For months, the U.S. occupation forces have pursued a policy of arbitrary
detention without hearing or redress, in the name of imposing security.
The manner of soldiers' frequent raids on houses is brutal. U.S. troops
have regularly shot, beaten, and mistreated civilians without provocation.
In the course of these raids, sick and elderly have died as a result of
needless mishandling. Soldiers have reportedly stolen from and vandalized
the they search. Back in July 2003, Amnesty International reported that
rounded up detainees were locked up for 24 hours a day in rooms with no
light, or held in overcrowded tents in temperatures approaching 122F.
Relatives gather outside of prisons daily, but are completely denied
information on the whereabouts of the missing and barred from visiting.
Among detainees kept in such conditions were 80 minors, including an
"Sufiyan Abd al-Ghani, 11 ... was with his uncle in a car that was stopped
near his home in Hay al-Jihad at just after 10 p.m. on May 27. The boy's
father heard a commotion and rushed outside to see him sprawled face down
on the road with a rifle muzzle pressed against his neck and US officers
shouting that someone in the car had shot at them.
"Sufiyan was made to stay on the ground for three hours, while more than
100 soldiers poured into the neighbourhood, searching houses and cars.
Eventually he was taken away with his hands trussed behind his back and a
hood draped over his head. No weapon had been found. The boy said that
soldiers dug rifle butts into his neck and back and that the first night
he was handcuffed and left alone in a tiny room open to the sky.
"The following day he was moved to the airport, where he said for eight
days he shared a tent with 22 adults, sleeping on the dirt, with no water
to wash or change his clothes. Sufiyan said that he was pulled from the
tent one morning, hooded and manacled again, and driven to Sarhiyeh
prison, to be kept in a room with 20 other youths aged 15 or 16 - regarded
as minors by the Geneva Convention.
"A woman inmate took his name and details and when she was released she
alerted Sufiyan's family. On June 21, the family obtained an injunction
from a judge ordering the boy's release, but they were told at the prison
that the signature of an Iraqi judge no longer had legal authority. Even
when an American military lawyer demanded his freedom, US troops refused
to release him until the lawyer appeared at the prison."
- from The Times
The arbitrariness of detention, difficulty of securing release, and utter
lack of accountability of occupation forces to the Iraqi public in this
story are not exceptional, but part of a systemic pattern of abuse under
the occupation. Meanwhile, the Iraqi court system has been rendered
powerless. Over 45,000 people have been detained in Iraq and Afghanistan
since the start of combat operations in October 2001. According to the
Red Cross, at least two-thirds of these "had been arrested by mistake," an
assertion given credibility by the eventual release of about 35,000
detainees. Still, over 18,000 detainees remain behind bars in Iraq.
The military has demolished Iraqi homes, in one case giving a family 30
minutes to leave before their farmhouse was bombed by F-16s. This
demolition was apparently in retaliation for an attack on a US convoy a
few days earlier - but such acts of "collective punishment," in reprisal
against people or their property, are prohibited by the Fourth Geneva
In spite of - or perhaps partly because of - its brutal and arbitrary
measures, the U.S. occupation has failed to bring security to Iraqis.
Amnesty International delegates have witnessed firsthand "the devastating
impact the lawlessness is having on the lives of ordinary Iraqis, whether
it be looting, revenge killings, kidnappings or violent sexual crimes."
The U.S. military actions have at times indiscriminately targeted
civilians. By conservative estimates, at least 11,000 Iraqi civilians and
over 30,000 Iraqis have been killed. In early April, U.S. media reported
a ceasefire in Falluja which the military had indeed declared - but during
the ceasefire, U.S. snipers only continued to shoot civilians, even
targeting ambulances with their gunfire. U.S. soldiers killed hundreds of
refugees trying to flee the city. Through such actions, at least 700
Iraqis, including 300 women and children, have been slaughtered in
Falluja. In Sadr city, U.S. helicopters have fired rockets into
residential areas. Although no curfew has officially been imposed, U.S.
soldiers have made a practice of aiming tank fire on cars they find moving
through the streets after dark. Soldiers have shot and killed
Arab-looking journalists, as well as protesters at peaceful
The U.S. military has deceived the public as to the damage wrought by the
invasion. The Pentagon initially claimed that 80 percent of rockets fired
in this second Gulf War would be "smart" weapons. However, subsequent
figures suggest that as many as 48 percent of weapons fired in the
invasions first week of "Shock and Awe" were "moron munitions."
Background to the conflict in Falluja
Falluja is located about about 40 miles west of Baghdad. The majority of
its 285,000 population practices Sunni Islam. In late April 2003, at the
start of the occupation, American troops shot and killed 15 innocent
protesters at a rally, injuring many more. Frustration grew as the U.S.
failed to restore basic services like water and electricity. In July
2003, over 100 Iraqi police in Falluja threatened to resign unless the
U.S. forces that trained them withdrew, saying the continued presence of
U.S. troops was endangering their lives. In September 2003, U.S. troops
mistakenly killed eight Iraqi police officers, open firing on them as they
chased a car carrying suspected thieves. Survivors reported that U.S.
soldiers continued firing for 45 minutes, although they repeatedly shouted
they were police. The killing ignited protests.
As the occupation in Falluja progressed, the U.S. army assigned private
guards (euphemistically called "civilian contractors" in the press) a
substantial role in operations. Residents complained that such security
forces were guilty of harassing the local population. In April 2004, four
employees of Blackwater Security Consulting were ambushed and killed.
Blackwater Security Consulting recruits former special forces soldiers,
FBI agents, and policemen to provide military and police training, and
serve as bodyguards; the company reported the employees killed had been
providing protection for food conveys, but declined to provide further
comments. Their bodies were gruesomely mutilated by a mob. The US media
- blind till then to the plight of Falluja - was rife with calls for
revenge. Bill O'Reilly explained that "it is time for drastic action ...
If there is resistance, no more Falluja ... it must be neutralized one way
or the another."
The U.S. army soon launched a brutal revenge attack. Falluja was bombed
with heavy artillery. Food and essential supplies were cut off from the
city. The most conservative estimates put the number of civilians killed
at 700, with thousands wounded and over 60,000 refugees. Soldiers shot at
refugees as they attempted to flee. Available pictures show large
residential areas razed in bombing strikes. The U.S. military attacked
public works to cripple the city, bombing power plants. As hospitals
overflowed with dead and wounded, U.S. army snipers took up strategic
positions and began to shoot at ambulances. The town was unable to bury
its dead in the face of the American onslaught, so the central football
field became a mass grave.
In the face of the tremendous violence imposed on Falluja, Iraqis in
Baghdad have reacted with spontaneous shows of solidarity. Humanitarian
aid began to seep into the city despite American obstructions. In Sadr
City, a mostly Shia area which is often described as a large slum by U.S.
media, reporters described desperately poor families donating substantial
resources to relief trucks headed for Falluja.
In early May, U.S. marines withdrew to outside Falluja, but the military
has restored order by enlisting the help of Saddam Hussein's generals.
Initially local American officials named major general Jassim Mohammed
Saleh as the commander of Falluja. Washington then overruled this
decision, giving command to the former chief of military intelligence,
Muhammed Latif. A year after their defeat, soldiers of the former Iraqi
army are back in the streets of Falluja, parading their old uniforms.
Perhaps many of the CPA's economic maneuverings are evidence of sincere,
albeit misplaced, faith in the ability of trickle-down economics to repair
a broken nation. But given U.S. economic and political interests in the
region (see "Iraq's strategic significance"), it is likely that underlying
intentions are far more insidious. The CPA is closely tied to both the
U.S. Defense and State Departments (see section on the CPA for more info).
The CPA's policies weaken the power of the future state by yielding
significant control of the economy to American corporations and
international lending institutions like the World Bank. A free,
independent, democratic Iraq is not in the interests of the Bush
administration, simply because such a government might not act with U.S.
interests in mind - for instance, it might ask U.S. troops to leave the
country, eroding the U.S.'s military foothold in the Middle East.
6) What will the June 30 transfer mean? Who is Ambassador John D.
The American commitment to democracy and self-determination in Iraq is
weak. While many Iraqis disapprove of the privatization of state
industries, the Bremer orders (see "Corporate profiteering") are not
subject to revision by a future Iraqi government. The permanence of such
a change in the ownership of national assets is a serious breach of the
Fourth Geneva Convention, and certainly leaves no room for the Iraqi
people to determine the future of their economy.
The current situation in Iraq under the "fractious and unpopular"
25-member U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council speaks to the weakness of
U.S. commitment to democracy. The U.S. has installed puppet governments
on both national and local levels. These governments are often handpicked
by U.S. officials with little experience or background in local conditions
or history, from groups of elites or professional clubs.
The U.S. has stopped or nullified elections in a number of cities -
despite a January 2004 protest of over 100,000 Iraqis calling for direct
general elections using UN food ration cards. Rather, in the guise of
"teaching" the population principles of democracy, the CPA has
paternalistically implemented TV programs of "panel discussions" about
democracy before an audience - in which the audience is handpicked, and
every line of discussion predetermined and rehearsed.
U.S. troops have repressed peaceful public protests, raided and sacked the
offices of Iraqi trade unions, and shut down newspapers. Ismail Zayer,
editor-in-chief of the U.S.-funded Iraqi newspaper Al-Sabah, quit along
with his entire staff saying, "We had a project to create a free media in
Iraq," but that U.S. control of the media was "suffocating." "We want
independence," Zayer said. "They (the Americans) refuse" (Associated
Press 4 May 2004).
President Bush has vigorously and vaguely defended June 30 as the chosen
date for a transfer of power, but how much sovereignty the Iraqis will
receive remains highly questionable. The U.S. government plans to
maintain control of Iraq's military, and Rumsfeld has announced an
escalation of U.S. troop deployments. Paul Bremer has publicly admitted
that the administration has no definite plans for just who they intend to
transfer sovereignty to on that date. The administration has supported a
UN proposal for transfer to a "caretaker" government that will be
appointed top-down, similar to the current Governing Council.
7) Would a UN-led occupation be a solution?
Robert Keohane of Duke University asserted that June 30 will mean
"international legal sovereignty" for Iraqis - in other words, their
government will be recognized by other governments, they will be
represented at the United Nations, and the U.S. will have an ambassador
instead the CPA's head. However, Keohane goes to say, "[the new Iraqi
government] will not have 'decision-making sovereignty,' because it will
have to defer to the judgments of the U.S. military with respect to
fundamental security issues within its own territory. And it won't have
'domestic sovereignty' because it won't have effective control over its
own territory" (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 3 May 2004).
Unfortunately, the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Iraq, replacing the
head of the CPA, is John D. Negroponte. Negroponte served as political
officer at the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam from 1964-68, during the height of
war, a period of extrajudicial executions and gross human rights abuses,
including massacres by the infamous "Tiger Force" of the Army's 101st
Airborne Division. Moreover, Negroponte was U.S. ambassador to Honduras
from 1981-85. In this capacity, he worked with one of the largest CIA
deployments in Latin America. He managed illegal aid to the Contras
fighting the Nicaraguan government, in direct contravention of Congress'
ban, and lied to Congress about his knowledge of the Battalion 316 death
Under Negroponte's tenure, U.S. military aid to Honduras grew from $4
million to $77.4 million; the U.S. launched a covert war against Nicaragua
and mined its harbors, and the U.S. trained Honduran military to support
the Contras. Negroponte worked closely with General Alvarez, Chief of the
Armed Forces in Honduras, to enable the training of Honduran soldiers in
psychological warfare, sabotage, and many types of human rights
violations, including torture and kidnapping. In 1994, the Honduran
Rights Commission Negroponte of human rights violations, for facilitating
CIA death squads.
In preparation for June 30, the CPA created a timeline accelerating the
appointment of Iraqi puppet officials. It is unclear whether Bush's
announcement for national elections in January 2005 will hold - or what
sort of form they will take.
For more info on Negroponte, see:
In order to counter the undesirable dominance of the United States in Iraq
and to work towards true sovereignty of the Iraqis, many look at the
United Nations (UN) as the most reliable institution to mediate and
control the situation in Iraq. The UN is composed of a coalition of many
nations which would give the occupation of Iraq a more international
character and hence limit the political and military influence of the
United States. The politically 'neutral' stance of the 'international
coalition', as opposed to the hidden political agenda of the 'coalition of
the willing', would be a better way to build a sovereign and democratic
The UN in its very nature, however, is a very undemocratic institution.
Even though its aims set out at its inception in 1945 seem noble, the
structure of the UN gives a disproportionate power to the five members of
the Security Council (the United States, Britain, France, China and the
Russian Federation). All the members of the SC have veto power, which give
these powerful nations a handle to strike down any resolution that is
running counter with their own political agenda. At the same time, the
United States, the world's sole super power, has been using its military
and economic clout to get its way in the UN. The UN provides a 'fig leaf'
for US foreign policy, giving US military operations and imperialist
interventions a forged humanitarian and democratic justification. John
Bolton, a former undersecretary of state under Bush Sr., summarized this
very well in 1994: "There is no United Nations. There is an international
community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the
world, and that is the United States, when it suits our interests, and
when we can get others to go along". The manipulative nature of the US in
the UN is for instance strikingly apparent after Yemen voted against the
1991 resolution to attack Iraq. A senior US diplomat told the Yemeni
ambassador, "That was the most 'expensive 'no' vote you ever cast." Within
three days, a US aid program to Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the
world, was shut down.
Besides the manipulative influence of the US in the UN, the UN has a
particularly uncanny record when it comes to Iraq. For 13 years, the
country has been sanctioned by UN since the ending of the 1991 Gulf War.
Other than limiting the power of Saddam Hussein, the sanctions have
strangled the population by depriving them from crucial basic supplies
such as food, medicines and clean drinking water. The deep wounds that
these sanctions have carved in Iraq have resulted in over 1.5 million
dead, among which more than 500,000 Iraqi children. Also, it was the UN
weapons of inspection team that the US used to spy on Iraq throughout the
1990s. Iraqis do remember this. There's no reason why ordinary Iraqis
should trust or welcome the UN. "We had bad experiences with the UN in the
past", says Yonadam Kanna, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council
installed by the US.
Despite the dire UN history in Iraq and its deficiencies as a truly
democratic institution, many argue that a UN led operation is still to be
preferred over an occupation solely run by the US. But what would such an
UN occupation of Iraq look like? Kosovo might give us some hints. More
than four years have passed since the NATO intervention in Yugoslavia was
supposed to have liberated Kosovar Albanians from Serbian aggressors. In
the months following the war, however, the Albanian majority in Kosovo
carried out a reverse ethnic cleansing of the minority Serb population.
The UN forces did not intervene. Years after they came on a 'nation
building' mission, foreign forces are still pulling the strings, in a
country in which half of the population now live below the poverty line
and power outages are a daily occurrence. Kosovars see the UN soldiers and
bureaucrats as corrupt. "They came to keep the peace, and now they're
causing the tensions," Qamile Blackori told the Observer.
The UN plan for the transfer of power in Iraq drafted by Lakhdar Brahimi
has already been severely adjusted by the US, giving the 'caretaker
government' no power to enact new laws and to have control over its own
military. Before endorsing an occupation under the banner of the UN, we
have to ask ourselves how much this is really going to change the lives of
ordinary Iraqis. The history of UN occupations is particularly disturbing,
and given the forces at play, there is no reason to blindly assume that
this time a UN operation would lead to a fair installation of sovereignty
and democracy in Iraq.
Profiles of War Profiteers
Here are profiles of just a few of the corporations profiteering off of
the war in Iraq. For more info, see www.warprofiteers.com, The Institute for
Southern Studies, and Occupation Watch.
No-bid contract through USAID of up to $680 million over 18 months, and
potentially $100 billion. Bechtel recently reported a record revenue of
$16.3 billion in 2003, reversing a three-year slide. The specific content
of Bechtel's contract is hidden behind a veil of secrecy, but may grow to
be the largest Iraq "reconstruction" contract. Bechtel has former board
members, former and current VPs and Presidents, the current CEO, and
"friends" with seats in the President's Export Council, the Defense Policy
Board, Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, USAID, Overseas Private
Investment Corporation, the Export-Import Bank, the CIA, OSHA, and the
Department of Energy Evaluation Board. Paul Bremer was a former Bechtel
Military contracts worth $3.9 billion in 2003, and over $8 billion of
contracts in Iraq in 2003 to manage the "operation" and "distribution" of
Iraqi oil. Formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney, who owns
unexercised Halliburton stock options worth more than $10 million.
Military contracts worth $21.9 billion in 2003; former vice-president
Bruce Jackson chaired the Coalition for the Liberation of Iraq, a
bipartisan group formed to promote Bush's plan for war in Iraq.
Military contracts worth $17.3 billion in 2003; revenue from military
goods now outstrips Boeing's earnings from commercial sales by $5 billion
a year. In December CEO Philip M. Condit was forced to resign when it was
revealed that Boeing negotiated the hiring of top Air Force procurement
official Darlene Druyun while she set up a lucrative ten-year $27.6
billion leasing deal of Boeing's 767 air-refueling planes. The deal went
through despite controversy, and will cost taxpayers up to $10 billion
dollars more than if the Air Force has purchased the aircrafts outright.
John Shalikashvili, retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is on
the Boeing board. Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Rudy de Leon heads
up Boeing's Washington office. Richard Perle, former Chairman and current
member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, is another important Boeing
ally within the corridors of power.
Military contracts worth $11.1 billion in 2003. At least seven former
officials, consultants, or shareholders of Northrop Grumman now hold posts
in the Bush administration, ensuring that the company's interests are not
overlooked for lucrative contracts in the "war on terror", including
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Vice-Presidential Chief of
Staff I. Lewis Libby, Pentagon Comptroller Dov Zakheim, and Sean O'Keefe,
director of NASA.
The Bremer orders (see "The REAL reason we went to war") have ceded
control of large sectors of the Iraqi economy to private corporations.
In the financial sector, six foreign banks have been allowed "fast-track
entry" into control of the local banking system. This means that
locally-owned banks will not be able to participate in the shaping of the
new economy because they simply won't be able to compete with the foreign
entities. The newly created Trade Bank of Iraq, which mortgages Iraq's
oil revenues to provide the country with credit, is being managed by a
coalition of international banks led by J.P. Morgan. As a result,
significant control of the economy has been undemocratically appointed to
a multinational corporation, with little accountability to the Iraqi
people. The corporation is not required to be transparent.
JP Morgan is no stranger to profiting from extreme injustice. During the
1800s, it insured the lives of American slaves, and has refused to pay
reparations. During World War II, the corporation seized the bank
accounts of Jewish customers in order to ingratiate itself with the Nazis,
and never returned the money. It is currently the subject of a lawsuit
for providing financial assistance to South Africa's apartheid government
in expanding its security forces during the 1980s; and most recently it
has been indicted by the US government for helping Enron doctor its
financial records. It is chilling that a corporation with such a record
has been chosen to insure Iraq's future.
The Cost of War (as of May 1, 2004)
The Cost of War to Cambridge Alone: $44 million
What could we do with $112 billion?
- Pay for 15,839,795 children to attend a year of Head Start
- Insure 48,021,811 children for one year
- Hire 2,133,998 additional public school teachers for one year
- Provide 2,841,722 students four-year scholarships at public universities
- Build 1,600,498 additional housing units
The Human Cost
- Iraqi Civilian Deaths: over 11,000
- Iraqi Military Deaths: over 30,000
("Needed: An Inquiry into Slaughter,"
John Pilger, The New Statesman, 8/28/03)
- U.S. Military Deaths: over 732 (Department of Defense)
- Afghan Civilian Deaths: "American commanders say they have not kept track
of civilian deaths in Afghanistan"
(The New York
Times, July 20, 2002)
- U.S. service member deaths in Afghanistan: 100
- During the first Gulf War, 70% of all U.S. bombs missed their target
- During the 12-year bombing campaign against Iraq's air defense facilities,
50% of U.S. "smart" bombs missed their target
- The Pentagon initially claimed that 80% of the rockets fired in Gulf War
II would be "smart" weapons. But subsequent figures suggest that as many
as 48% of the weapons fired in the invasion's first week were "moron
What is the CPA?
The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) is the name of the temporary
governing body which has been designated by the United Nations as the
lawful government of Iraq "until such time as Iraq is politically and
socially stable enough to assume its sovereignty." The CPA is a coalition
of nations led by the U.S. and U.K.
According to the "Agreement of November 15th, 2003" between the CPA and
the Iraqi Governing Council, by June 30, 2004 a new transitional
administration was supposed to assume "full sovereign powers for governing
Iraq," allowing the CPA to dissolve. See "What does June 30 mean?" for
more info about the transfer.
www.cpa-iraq.org/bremerbio.org (official CPA website, accessed April 2004, now
What is the Iraqi Governing Council?
The Governing Council was appointed by CPA Administrator L. Paul Bremer on
July 13, 2003, by the authority of the CPA. The UN Security Council
described the Council as "broadly representative" and praised its
formation as "an important step towards the formation by the people of
Iraq of an internationally recognized, representative government..." in
Resolution 1500. Its stated responsibilities were to include appointing
interim ministers, working with the CPA on policy and budgets, and
establishing procedures to write a new constitution. On July 30, 2003,
the Council decided to have a rotating presidency among 9 of its members,
with each member serving as president for one month at a time.
For more detailed info on individual members, see
Iraq's Governing Council
Depleted Uranium: Authorized for "Shock and Awe"
The Pentagon unloaded 350 tons of depleted uranium during Desert Storm.
In 1989, before the first Gulf War, there were birth defects in 11 per
100,000 births in Iraq. In 2001, there were 116 per 100,000. In 1988, 34
people in southern Iraq died of cancer. In 2001, there were 603 cancer
Uranium remains radioactive for 4.5 billion years. That's a long time for
reconstruction. The US cannot expect to "liberate" the Iraqi people while
also sentencing them to an eternity of health problems. The radiation
produced by depleted uranium in battle is a poison, a carcinogenic
material that causes birth defects, lung disease, kidney disease,
leukemia, breast cancer, lymphoma, bone cancer, and neurological
12 years after the US used depleted uranium on Iraqi forces retreating
from Kuwait to Basra, the highway remains a radioactive toxic wasteland.
It has since been renamed "the highway of death."
The US Army acknowledges the hazards. In a training manual, it requires
anyone who comes within 25 meters of any DU-contaminated equipment or
terrain to wear respiratory and skin protection and states that
"contamination will make food and water unsafe for consumption."
American officials have been well aware of the health hazards of the
material. Dr. Doug Rokke, U.S. Army health physicist who led the first
clean-up of depleted uranium after the Gulf War, says, "Depleted uranium
is a crime against God and humanity... We warned the Department of Defense
in 1991 after the Gulf War. Their arrogance [in using it in the current
Iraq War] is beyond comprehension." In his own crew of a hundred, 30
members of his staff have died in the decade since being exposed to DU.
Most other members of the crew developed serious health problems. Rokke
himself now has reactive airway disease, neurological damage, cataracts,
and kidney problems.
President Bush and the Pentagon authorized the use of depleted
uranium for the "shock-and-awe" campaign against Iraq in March 2003 --
committing a war crime against the people of Iraq, and demonstrating
reckless disregard for the health and safety of American troops.
Article 23 of the Geneva Convention IV
It is forbidden to employ poison or poisoned weapons, to kill treacherously individuals
belonging to the hostile nation or army, to employ arms, projectiles or material
calculated to cause unnecessary suffering.
The growing outcry against the use of depleted uranium is not a matter of minor legal
technicalities. The laws of war prohibit the use of weapons that have deadly and
inhumane effects beyond the field of battle. Nor can weapons be legally deployed in war
when they are known to remain active, or cause harm after the war concludes. The use of
depleted uranium is a crime whose horrific consequences have yet to run their course.
"Depleted uranium: The War Crime that Has No End" by Paul Rockwell,
"Iraqi Cancers, Birth Defects Blamed on US Depleted Uranium," Larry Johnson, Seattle
See links to news sources.
Last updated 3 July 2004 by hchew@fas (i.e. fas.harvard.edu)