Comment:  Iraq  Kosovo

                                                  The seeds of Iraq's future terror
                                                  Free market shock therapy must not be imposed by
                                                  the occupiers
Stichting Visie
                                                  Shirley Williams
                                                  Tuesday October 28, 2003
                                                  The Guardian

                                                  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
                                                  for privatisation.

                                                  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.

Stichting Visie
October 27, 2003
                 Clark Responds to Kosovo Questions

                 After his speech at the press conference in Madison, Wisconsin, on October 27, Clark
                 took a few questions. I asked him a three-parter on the war in Kosovo, which he led.

                 One part dealt with the use of depleted uranium. He said there have been a lot of studies
                 on depleted uranium, and "there is no indication it causes any trouble," except perhaps if
                 you put something in your mouth that is covered with it.

                 Another part of the question dealt with a comment by British General Michael Jackson,
                 who defied Clark's order to attack Russian troops who were beating the allies to an
                 airport in Kosovo. General Jackson reportedly told Clark back then: "No, I'm not going
                 to do that. I'm not going to start World War III for you."

                 At the press conference, Clark responded, "That comment was way out line. I did what
                 any commander would do."

                 The last part of my question dealt with the speeding up of the film of the train that U.S.
                 bombers hit as it was crossing a bridge during the Kosovo war. In briefings at the time,
                 the U.S. military made it seem like the train was going faster than it was, so as to suggest
                 that the pilots could not possibly have known the train was about to cross the bridge.

                 Clark's response: "I had no indication the film was sped up," and he added that he
                 supported what the pilots did.

                 -- Matthew Rothschild