Monday, April 10, 2006

Corporate Crime

After the claim about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction was proven baseless, the Bush Administration retreated to the fallback position occupied by the great American myth: our selfless nation's divinely-ordained mission was to bring democracy and all its benefits to the Iraqi people. As soon as it was feasible, our noble conquerors would return the country's governance to Iraq¹s newly elected leaders, and the gifts of self-government and private enterprise would flow upon the Iraqi people like manna from heaven.

As we have been seeing lately, however, this promise is turning out to be yet another cruel joke. Far from benefiting the bleeding people of Iraq, the American-imposed "regime change" was clearly meant to open yet another country to the corporate giants who control our world. The latest scholar to point this out is Antonia Juhasz. In several articles and now in a new book, The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time, Juhasz argues that the invasion of Iraq was about turning that ancient country into a free-fire zone for America's corporate-welfare elite. The orders imposed by L. Paul Bremer, former head of the now-defunct Iraqi Provisional Authority, make this abundantly clear. For what those orders did (and they are still in effect) was to cancel Iraq's planned economy which had given the Iraqi people food, jobs, and control of their massive oil reserves in favor of the mass privatization of virtually every resource: the oil, the water, the power, the security, the whole shebang. All were made available to takeover by private American corporations like Bechtel (rebuilding the water works destroyed by American bombers), Halliburton, Exxon-Mobil, Lockheed-Martin and their ilk. And what these American "benefactors" have done is increasingly brought cheap foreign labor and goods into Iraq, leaving most of the Iraqis themselves jobless.

What's worse, far worse, is that all of these orders by Bremer violate international laws overturning occupying powers, which state that such interference with an occupied nation's existing laws is wholly illegal. To quote Juhasz in a recent article:
Transformation of an occupied country’s fundamental laws is illegal under international law. It directly violates the international convention governing the behavior of occupying forces, the Hague regulations of 1907 (the companion to the 1949 Geneva conventions, both ratified by the United States), as well as the U.S. Army's own code of war ­ as stated in the Army field manual "The Law of Land Warfare." Article 43 of the Hague Regulations requires that an occupying power "re-establish and insure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country." (See "The Economic Colonization of Iraq," at The Bush Agenda.)
In brief, the occupying power is required to protect the people of the occupied nation and obey its existing laws. True to its disdain for all international law, the Bush Administration has done just the opposite. It has completely overturned Iraq's legal system and economy in favor of one benefiting its corporate cronies. And it knows this, which is why it is so impatient for the Iraqis to form a puppet government to ratify what has already been done.

Now we can see the "frustration" of officials like Condoleeza Rice and the "tough" members of Congress in a new light. They keep threatening the Iraqi government with dire consequences if they don’t resolve their differences and form a government. Why? Because such a government is desperately needed as cover for war crimes, i.e., as an entity to make official the theft already committed, and to welcome with open arms the American corporations eager to rush in and glut themselves on the economic bonanza that has been prepared for them.

How craven and calculating and cruel this will one day appear to all those who have sacrificed their lives in this criminally commercial endeavor, can only be imagined.

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