May 12, 2003
The U.S. leaders are not wasting time getting down to business in managing the occupation of Iraq. The people they have named to head the organizations in charge of the "reconstruction" of Iraq shows that their primary concern is to offer U.S. corporations the chance to make considerable profit.
Jay Garner, the man Bush first put in charge of the occupation, is the representative of the U.S. arms industry. The running of agriculture has been given to Dan Amstutz. Amstutz is a former executive of the giant food company Cargill, the leading exporter of U.S. grain. All this means is that Amstutz is going to be a lot more concerned about dumping a part of the U.S. grain surplus into Iraq, ruining a big part of the Iraqi peasantry, than in developing local agriculture corresponding to the needs of the population. Finally, Bush appointed Lewis Bremer III, a close confidante of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to be the new special envoy to Iraq. Bremer was Reagan's so-called "counterterrorism" ambassador and then went to work for Kissinger Associates, run by Henry Kissinger, with close ties to business clients here and abroad, including the oil sheiks and despots who oppress the people all over the Middle East.
Oil, as could be expected, is receiving special treatment. The U.S. has started back up the old nationalized structure that marketed Iraqi oil, since the majority of its managers are still there and have kept their posts. But this structure has been placed under the control of a commission presided over by Philip Carroll, the former CEO of the U.S. subsidiary of the Shell Oil Company. Who could be better placed than Carroll to know how to utilize the considerable oil resources of Iraq in the best interests of U.S. and British corporations?
After the experience of the last weeks the U.S. leaders are quite aware of the fact that order won't be established without resistance. They aren't taking risks. In Baghdad or in the northern city of Mosul, the U.S. has sent in thousands of soldiers to reinforce the occupation forces. U.S. leaders have also left a number of left-overs from the regime of Saddam Hussein, Baathist officials, at their posts, including the head of Baghdad University and the head of the health ministry, where doctors came out in public protest demanding his ouster. In Basra, the British authorities have tried hard to create the appearance of legality by looking for support from the old tribal and clan chiefs. In so doing, the British government resorted to tactics of the old colonial system that it established in Iraq in 1919 and remained until 1958. This system granted the clan chiefs exorbitant rights over the poor.
The U.S. and Britain are preparing for a long occupation, at least in the big cities and the regions where there are big oil resources.