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Old 01-24-2004, 08:59 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Good article on Iraq by Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein is great, my ideal women would be her brain and Natalie Portman's body... and the other way round would still be pretty great. But that's beside the point, a good article on the US and UK occupation of Iraq...

Quote:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/st...130138,00.html

Of course the White House fears free elections in Iraq

Only an appointocracy can be trusted to accept US troops and corporations

Naomi Klein
Saturday January 24, 2004
The Guardian

"The people of Iraq are free," declared President Bush in his state of the union address on Tuesday. The previous day, 100,000 Iraqis begged to differ. They took to Baghdad's streets, shouting: "Yes, yes to elections. No, no to selection."
According to Iraq occupation chief Paul Bremer, there really is no difference between the White House's version of freedom and the one being demanded on the street. Asked whether his plan to form an Iraqi government through appointed caucuses was heading towards a clash with Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's call for direct elections, Bremer said he had no "fundamental disagreement with him".

It was, he said, a mere quibble over details. "I don't want to go into the technical details of refinements. There are - if you talk to experts in these matters - all kinds of ways to organise partial elections and caucuses. And I'm not an election expert, so I don't want to go into the details. But we've always said we're willing to consider refinements."

I'm not an election expert either, but I'm pretty sure there are differences here that cannot be refined. Al-Sistani's supporters want all Iraqis to have a vote and the people they elect to write the laws of the country - your basic, imperfect, representative democracy.

Bremer wants his Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to appoint the members of 18 regional organising committees. These will then choose delegates to form 18 selection caucuses. These will then select representatives to a transitional national assembly. The assembly will have an internal vote to select an executive and ministers, who will form the new government. This, Bush said in the state of the union address, constitutes "a transition to full Iraqi sovereignty".

Got that? Iraqi sovereignty will be established by appointees appointing appointees to select appointees to select appointees. Add the fact that Bremer was appointed to his post by President Bush and Bush to his by the US Supreme Court, and you have the glorious new democratic tradition of the appointocracy: rule by an appointee's appointee's appointees' appointees' appointees' selectees.

The White House insists its aversion to elections is purely practical; there just isn't time to pull them off before the June 30 deadline. So why have the deadline? The favourite explanation is that Bush needs a "braggable" on the campaign trail: when his Democratic rival raises the spectre of Vietnam, Bush will reply that the occupation is over, we're on our way out.

Except that the US has no intention of actually getting out of Iraq: it wants its troops to remain, and it wants Bechtel, MCI and Halliburton to stay behind and run the water system, the phones and the oilfields. It was with this goal in mind that, on September 19, Bremer pushed through a package of economic reforms that the Economist described as a "capitalist dream".

But the dream, though still alive, is now in peril. A growing number of legal experts are challenging the legitimacy of Bremer's reforms, arguing that under the international agreements that govern occupying powers - the Hague regulations of 1907 and the Geneva conventions of 1949 - the CPA can only act as a caretaker of Iraq's economic assets, not its auctioneer. Radical changes - such as Bremer's order 39, which opened up Iraqi industry to 100% foreign ownership - violate these agreements and so could be easily overturned by a sovereign Iraqi government.

This prospect has foreign investors seriously spooked, and many are opting not to go into Iraq. The major private insurance brokers are also sitting it out. Bremer has responded by quietly cancelling his plan to privatise Iraq's 200 state firms, instead putting up 35 companies for lease (with a later option to buy). For the White House, the only way for its grand economic plan to continue is for its military occupation to end: only a sovereign government, unbound by the Hague and Geneva conventions, can legally sell off Iraq's assets.

But will it? Given the widespread perception that the US is not out to rebuild Iraq but to loot it, if Iraqis were given the chance to vote tomorrow, they could well decide to expel US troops immediately and to reverse Bremer's privatisation project, opting instead to protect local jobs. And that frightening prospect - far more than the absence of a census - explains why the White House is fighting so hard for its appointocracy.

Under the current American plan for Iraq, the transitional national assembly would hold on to power from June 30 until general elections are held "no later" than December 31 2005. That's 18 leisurely months for a non-elected government to do what the CPA could not legally do on its own: invite US troops to stay indefinitely and turn Bremer's capitalist dream into binding law. Only after these key decisions have been made will Iraqis be invited to have their say. The White House calls this "self-rule". It is, in fact, the very definition of outside-rule, occupation through outsourcing.

That means that the world is once again facing a choice about Iraq. Will its democracy emerge stillborn, with foreign troops dug in on its territory, multinationals locked into multi-year contracts controlling key resources, and an economic programme that has left 60-70% of the population unemployed? Or will its democracy be born with its heart still beating, capable of building the country Iraqis choose?

On one side are the occupation forces. On the other are growing movements demanding economic and voter rights in Iraq. Increasingly, occupying forces are responding to these forces by using fatal force to break up demonstrations, as British soldiers did in Amara earlier this month, killing six.

Yes, there are religious fundamentalists and Saddam loyalists capitalising on the rage, but the very existence of these pro-democracy movements is itself a kind of miracle; after 30 years of dictatorship, war, sanctions, and now occupation, it would certainly be understandable if Iraqis met further hardships with fatalism and resignation. Instead, the violence of Bremer's shock therapy appears to have jolted hundred of thousands into action.

This courage deserves our support. At the World Social Forum in Mumbai last weekend, the author and activist Arundhati Roy called on the global forces that opposed the Iraq war to "become the global resistance to the occupation". She suggested choosing "two of the major corporations that are profiting from the destruction of Iraq" and targeting them for boycotts and civil disobedience.

In his state of the union address, Bush said: "I believe that God has planted in every heart the desire to live in freedom. And even when that desire is crushed by tyranny for decades, it will rise again." He is being proven right in Iraq every day - and the rising voices are chanting: "No, no USA. Yes, yes elections."
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Old 01-24-2004, 10:33 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The end of WW2 prove without a doubt that even after the most powerful dictatorships fall democracy CAN exist.

But it takes time. Lots and lots of time, it wasn't until 5 years after the war that the last guerilla fighters in Germany finally gave up hope.

The worst thing we could possibly do is to leave Iraq in tourmoil.

The second-worst thing we could possibly do is say "Ok guys have at it" and then leave.

Anyone who looks at the history of Greece knows that pure democracy is extreamly dangerous and self-defeating, this is why America is in fact a Democratic Republic. This idea took a long time to develope (and still developing), with a completely different social outlook we must help them alter this idea to their own society and culture.

No they do not have free elections, yet. Yes a true democracy can, and possibly will, cause them to make actions that go against our best interests. But we said from the get-go we were going to hand back Iraq, and I believe firmly that will happen come hell or high water.
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Old 01-24-2004, 10:40 AM   #3 (permalink)
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One thing is... this woman is an idiot. You can't just throw a country that has been under authoritarian for the last 25 years into elections less then a year after their freedom. Secondly when you have a country with three very different ethnic/religious identities in a country that isn't being partitioned, you have to factor in that. We want the country to be fully represented, if they were to have direct elections the shiites who have the majority of the country would run the show and this is bad for two reasons. 1) It would for sure piss off the sunni's and very well upset the kurds who are all abou having their own country and identity as it is. 2) The shiites have something and want something very similar to that of the Iranians, the last thing we want in Iraq is another theocracy.
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Old 01-24-2004, 10:48 AM   #4 (permalink)
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So you have thought about it and decided it is better for American's to rule Iraq than Iraqi's?

Fine, that's your opinion, at least we can see what the pro-war lobby really believe.
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Old 01-24-2004, 11:12 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Its not a matter of us ruling them. If we were to pull out now and let them have their own elections, the country would be in a state of complete chaos. Would the Iraqi's be better off then? No. Fact is there are still Baathists and Saddam loyalists about, not to mention foreign infultrators. Plus you have three very distinct factions of ethnic and religious identity that would have at it. You gotta think in things of the long term, not the short.
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Old 01-24-2004, 12:03 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The idea is that if the US left now with just direct elections we would be planting the seeds for conflict in the region that would rivial the isreali/palastinian conflict. The shites would gain power and repress the minorities causing massive conflict and probably end up splitting the country into 3 regious each wanting to be autonomous. The land disputes would lead to fighting much like isreal/palistine or pakistan/india (look at Kashmir).
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Old 01-24-2004, 12:33 PM   #7 (permalink)
follower of the child's crusade?
 
At the risk of repeating myself...

You've thought about it and decided that it and decided that it would be better for America to control Iraq, rather than let Iraqi's do it?
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Old 01-24-2004, 12:40 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Strange Famous
At the risk of repeating myself...

You've thought about it and decided that it and decided that it would be better for America to control Iraq, rather than let Iraqi's do it?
For the time being yes.

It would be criminal right now not to.
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Old 01-24-2004, 12:44 PM   #9 (permalink)
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On such dreams are empires built.

How grateful all of these savage nations must be for the enlightened West to conquer them and rule them fairly and decently (and take a few natural resources here and there)
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Old 01-24-2004, 01:21 PM   #10 (permalink)
Insane
 
Excellent article. I just have one miner quibble.
Quote:
Asked whether his plan to form an Iraqi government through appointed caucuses was heading towards a clash with Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's call for direct elections, ...
As FAIR pointed out at 2:37, he is calling for "elections" period. No qualifier necessary.

http://www.fair.org/counterspin/012304.mp3
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Old 01-24-2004, 01:25 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I was just thinking...

this is totally random, but ya know, history has a way of throwing a person into the right place at the right time to take over and lead. Hitler being one that comes to mind quickest...take 1 war torn country, take 1 charismatic leader, bam, 20 yrs later, you have a serious issue on your hands..

Just saying, some of the chaos and our lack of a workable plan at the moment is all it takes...
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Old 01-24-2004, 05:57 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Strange Famous
On such dreams are empires built.

How grateful all of these savage nations must be for the enlightened West to conquer them and rule them fairly and decently (and take a few natural resources here and there)
Less sarcasm, please.

The United States spent how many years in Germany and Japan after WW2 rebuilding the govts? (I know it was on the order of decades, just don't have exact numbers in my noodle atm.)

Anyway, yes, it should be obvious to you that it would be next to criminal to leave Iraq right now, regardless of wether or not you personally supported the war effort.

Leaving now would just plunge the country into chaos and possibly civil war.
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Old 01-24-2004, 10:59 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lebell
Leaving now would just plunge the country into chaos and possibly civil war.
Or we could stay now and watch the country possibly plunge in to chaos and civil war...
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Old 01-25-2004, 12:41 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Here's my Iraq schpiel. I'll try to keep it brief.

Short version: The administration's rhetoric about staying the course is not matched with adequate force on the ground. We have been successful in slowing the guerilla insurgency, but when a noted Islamic leader (al-Sistani) puts his foot down on the election issue, and we back down, it's clear that our power on the ground to influence the hearts and minds of Iraqis is limited. Do we have the political capital in Iraq to get the job done? It's politically advantageous for this administration to resolve the Iraq situation in some fashion before the elections. Are they willing to seperate politics and policy in Iraq?

A few more points (longer version): Inadequate planning for the post-war situation has put us in a whole. Had we gone in and immediately restored utilities and jobs, our efforts might have a greater blessing from the Iraqi people. Granted, these are difficult tasks, and perhaps impossible ones when there are guerillas blowing up power lines, but even if there weren't these externalities, no progress can be made without a plan, and there was no plan.

The importance of electricity in Iraq is manifold. It powers air conditioners. It would have been symbolic of our power for us to have it restored quickly. I've heard anecdotes about how the Iraqis were in awe of our ability to swipe Saddam aside like he was nothing. If we can do that, why can't we turn on the lights?

So, we're in the hole. When it comes to elections and winning over the people, we have little ground to stand on. We're at the mercy of religious leaders. The political divisions between kurds, sunni muslims, and shiia muslims are deep. If a straight up republic were established, the shiia would be running things, and that wouldn't be acceptable to the other two groups. A government setup would have to take power away from the shiia, but they naturally wouldn't want that to happen. On top of this, there is anti-sunni bias because of their connection to Saddam and to insurgency. On top of that the kurds haven't been a full participant in the nation of Iraq for a number of years. And we don't want to break up the country. This is not an easy problem to solve, and the right solution (if we even come up with it), might not be sellable.
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