seeds of Iraq's future terror
Free market shock therapy must not be imposed by
Tuesday October 28, 2003
Kofi Annan declared earlier this month: "As long as there's an
occupation, the resistance will grow". Yesterday's attacks in
Iraq bear out his solemn warning and are a cruel reminder of the
problems at the heart of the US and British occupation.
This increasingly emerges as a war we should never have
started and now do not know how to end. Despite positive work
by British forces in southern Iraq, many of our current policies in
the country are creating further resentment among Iraqis, and
providing stimulus for the growing violence.
There always was a contradiction at the core of this
government's Iraq war. We were going to war "to uphold the
authority of the United Nations", the government said,
meanwhile rubbishing the objections of other security council
members and initiating military force without any UN Resolution
specifically to authorise it.
It claimed that it had no quarrel with the Iraqi people but fought a
war with cluster bombs and depleted uranium; now between
7,000 and 9,000 Iraqi civilians are dead. It said it would liberate
Iraqis from suffering; but there have already been 1,500
additional violent deaths registered in the Baghdad city morgue
alone. It promised that expenditure on Iraq would not threaten
our overseas aid elsewhere; but last week announced that
£100m will be cut from our global aid budgets for poor people to
fund the aftermath of its military adventure. Six months on, no
weapons of mass destruction have been found at all.
We were urged into war on a misleading prospectus and we
surrendered the sovereignty of our foreign policy decisions to
President Bush's neo-conservative cabal in Washington. All this
deserves condemnation. But we cannot allow our attention to
waver from the current situation in Iraq. Even while serious
fighting continues, the economic destiny of the country is being
decided - not by the Iraqis themselves, but by the occupying
powers and the US-appointed governing council, almost half of
whom are exiles.
On the initiation of Paul Bremer, the US head of the Coalition
Provisional Authority, a new law, order 39, came into force last
month. It permits complete foreign ownership of Iraqi companies
and assets (apart from natural resources) that have hitherto
been publicly owned, total overseas remittance of profits and
some of the lowest corporate tax rates in the world. In short,
Iraq's economy has been put up for sale.
The reforms are inconsistent with the undertaking at the UN to
promote "the right of the Iraqi people freely to determine their
own political future". Nor do they sit well with international law.
The Hague regulations require that occupying powers respect
the laws in force in a country "unless absolutely prevented". The
attorney general himself warned the prime minister in March that
this would rule out "major structural economic reforms". But that
is exactly what is now being imposed.
It is extraordinary to hear a Labour (albeit New Labour)
government endorsing such economic shock therapy. An
extreme market model proved disastrous in post-Soviet Russia,
where half the population fell below the poverty line. In Iraq, the
effects are already being felt. Rather than repair the Baghdad
telephone exchange, which the coalition bombed, the elitist
decision has been made that Iraqis should rely on foreign-owned
mobile phone networks. Press reports indicate that Iraqi
hospitals, once famed as the best in the region, now face plans
The government is plainly on the back foot. Hilary Benn, the
international development secretary, claimed last week that
"Iraq's assets are not for sale". Paul Bremer himself
contradicted that assertion this week, saying "if the economy is
going to grow, it's going to have to happen". Valerie Amos, the
leader of the House of Lords, claimed that the economic reforms
were the inspiration of Iraqis. But the Iraq governing council,
some of whose members have declared their outright opposition,
only endorsed the order after Bremer had signed it. Iraqi
unemployment is running at 60-70%, and privatisation by foreign
companies would lead inevitably - according to Rubar Sandi, a
leading Iraqi adviser to the US state department - to yet more
lay-offs, crime and social unrest.
Reforms that change the face of the Iraqi economy should wait
until the Iraqi people can be consulted and a democratic
government established. Iraqis must feel they have ownership
over what is happening in their country, and this cannot happen
while fundamental policies determining their future are imposed
by foreign occupiers - occupiers that have shown little
consideration for the needs of ordinary Iraqis. The British
government, with its American partner, must stop to think
whether it is sowing the kind of resentment which is the
seedbed of future terrorism.
|October 27, 2003
Clark Responds to Kosovo Questions
After his speech at the press conference in Madison, Wisconsin, on October
One part dealt with the use of depleted uranium. He said there have been
a lot of studies
Another part of the question dealt with a comment by British General Michael
At the press conference, Clark responded, "That comment was way out line.
I did what
The last part of my question dealt with the speeding up of the film of
the train that U.S.
Clark's response: "I had no indication the film was sped up," and he added
-- Matthew Rothschild