The real cause of the Iraq debacle: the Year Zero plan

Harpers is too stupid to put it online, but there is a fucking fantastic article by Naomi Klein in the last issue of Harper’s; I picked it up on vacation. I think Klein’s mostly an idiot, but she’s the only person so far who’s connected the dots between the fights over the Iraqi constitution, Iraqi trade policy, rules on foreign investment, and privitization of state assets.

Here’s the short version: as soon as the neocons landed, they implemented their fantasy version of the US economy in Iraq: flat taxes, no restrictions on foreign ownership, no taxes on capital, sale of all state assets, elimination of large segments of public sector jobs, etc., etc. Klein makes a pretty good case that their economic policies - or rather, the bizarre way they went about them - is actually at the root of the ongoing rebellions.

Basically, it’s a new slightly new spin on the mercantilist interpretation of what to do with a colony: open it up to outside investment - but not for exploitation like before; the theory is that when Wal-Mart and Citigroup come in and get to use the libertarian fantasy economy, everyone will get rich, Iraq will turn into a rich western-aligned democracy, and so on.

What actually happened is that the hordes of unemployed state employees and factory workers are running the rebellion. Klein says all of the back-and-forth between Sistani, Sadr, and the real story of the US occupation has actually been:

a) To whom, and for what price, Iraqi assets will be sold. Klein says that the US authorities have been squeezing the Iraqi factories in various ways to drive them out of business/make them cheaper, so US companies can pick up the state licenses cheaper.
b) The early handover of power was done to help Bush’s reelection, sure - but they also needed a way to end run the Geneva convention regulations on selling off state assets and what not - the laws put in there to keep occupying powers from making off with a conquered country. Laws written by the US occupying authority have no authority at all under the convention, so they needed a friendly puppet to be a legitimate signing authority on all those contracts. This may not actually work for various technical reasons (not withstanding the Sadr & Sistani resistance).
c) All of Sistani’s manuevering and Sadr’s fighting is because they don’t want these rules to pass, because they think the whole of Iraq’s wealth will end up transferred to the US and their country reduced to indentured servitude.
d) The Iraqi public at large isn’t stupid, and knows what’s going on. There’s a story where some factory workers are refusing to let their factory be sold to a US company - they’ve already killed one plant manager who agreed to let the sale go through, scuttling it. They fear both unemployment and “colonialism”, apparently.

It’s not bulletproof, but it’s the only coherent story of the postwar I’ve seen. And it finally explains why the hell Bremer spent all his time fiddling with stuff like a flat tax over there, rather than getting the water working. I don’t know what to think of it.

Good info. So greed still rules every move of our govt. in Iraq. I am surprised.

Welcome back, by the way. Can you go ahead and make up about 200 posts by morning? :wink:

I don’t know if it is the fantasy version of the US or the fantasy version of doing to the middle east what we did to central and south america. Which means open those markets up to the corporations, get our little nightmare into their culture as well. As you said privatise resources, liberal trade policies, and no oversight on foreign investment.

In fact we could expand this to apply to the reason why the war on terror exists. It would not be the first time we used soldiers to open a country up to our banks and corporations.

I’m not surprised if that’s the case. I’ve considered for quite some time one of the biggest problems of rebuilding a stable Iraq is that the US administration is too right wing and may therefore not take decisions to, for the time being, keep assets national. I didn’t quite think they’d be so cynical to actively open Iraq for looting, though.

Hell, Iraq had a new intellectual property and copyright law written for it by the US before most of their government groundwork had been completed. One of the chief architects of their new copyright codes? Hillary Rosen, formerly chief of the RIAA.

Really? Jesus.

Stiglitz has apparently been saying things along these lines:

Controversial plans to privatise all of Iraq’s non-oil assets have been attacked by Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. The former World Bank chief economist has warned that laws signed off by US and British occupation forces ‘risk social stability and Russia-style asset stripping’.

Navy research org article along these lines, and the parallels in post-communism Russia:

Fuck. My confidence interval that this is what’s going on just went up…

I missed this last week on the anniversary. A nice interview, looking back.

With a whimper

I was searching for a thread to post about this, and man, “bipartisan support of a good thing” is pretty hard to fit into any of our usual threads.

Perhaps, but perhaps things that are agreed on by the most extreme elements of the political factions might not be good after deeper inspection.

I think in terms of the repeal of the Iraq war authorization, that’s got broad support from almost everyone.

I’d be worried if some kind of idea ONLY had support from the Freedom and Progressive caucus.

I think you can simplify the math here: things the Freedom Caucus push for might not be good.

I don’t think it’s your intention, but lumping the progressive wing of the Democratic party and the extreme elements of the GOP together smells a bit of bothsides crud.

Well, keep in mind that I actually AM generally less aligned with the progressive caucus than you are.

I don’t think they are as mindlessly malevolent as the freedom caucus, don’t get me wrong. But I do tend to think that sometimes their best intentions don’t always translate into effective policy suggestions.

I guess the thing I’m suggesting is that I would tend to agree with your assertion, that most stuff the Freedom caucus wants, is bad… but I’d also say that even if they find common ground with the Progressive caucus, that doesn’t really suggest that it’s good, because I can see both of them agreeing on some bad things.

In this case, where basically everyone agrees the war authorization should go? That’s fine. But if something came up that ONLY the progressives and freedom crackpots agreed on, I would be very skeptical.

Not to the extent that I’d discount it out of hand, mind you… but I’d be skeptical.

Case in point, aren’t those the two groups that are most likely to want us to stop supporting Ukraine, whereas everyone in the middle wants to help Ukraine defend themselves and retake their lost territory.

I looked through HR 7691 to see who voted against it in and the Senate had 11 votes opposed, all Republican. The House passed 368-57 and all 57 no votes were for Republicans. So a good example of not lumping the left wing of the Democrats together with the right wing of the GOP.

I think there was a bill later in the year, maybe that one differed?

There was an infamous letter sent to Biden from the Congressional Progressive Caucus suggesting that he push for a diplomatic solution. It was withdrawn a firestorm with a bunch of the signees hemming and hawing on why they signed it, but there’s definitely a contingent on the left that’s squishy on support for Ukraine.

Except the letter itself explicitly called for the US to keep providing aid and support to Ukraine, not to withdraw it. There aren’t any votes on the left to cut off support. Only on the right.

This war ultimately ends in some kind of diplomatic solution. The leftists behind that letter are wrong to suggest Biden can or should try to impose one, but they’re not squishy on support for Ukraine.

I think we can all agree that the most crazy of the progressive caucus aren’t as crazy as the craziest in the Freedom caucus, and likely aren’t LITERALLY OWNED by the Russians.

Literal ownership doesn’t start until Power Level 7, I’m sure the Freedom Caucus are just trying to rank up.

Holy Thread Necro, Batman!

I chose this particular Iraq War thread because it was this Naomi Klein article that finally made me understand why the Iraqis had no real stake in a peaceful Iraq, as governed thus far. (Aug 2004, according to the OP).