Putting the Colonial Pieces Together

Revolutionary Worker #1199, May 18, 2003, posted at rwor.org

"By the middle of the month, you'll see a beginning of a nucleus of an Iraqi government with an Iraqi face on it, that is dealing with the coalition."

General Jay Garner, Overseer of Iraq, early May

"It's an enormously valuable asset to have people who share our values, understand what we're about as a country, and are in most cases citizens of this country, but who also speak the language, share the culture and know their way around Iraq."

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz

The U.S. colonialists need Iraqi political figures to help them rule. They need also Iraqi troops and police to control the people at gunpoint. There are 12,000 American soldiers currently trying to control Baghdad, a city of 5 million people--and the U.S. high command knows they are sitting on a potential volcano. In Baghdad, May 7, an Iraqi man stepped up to a U.S. soldier on a bridge and killed him at close range with a pistol. U.S. soldiers, who were told Iraq would welcome them, now find themselves serving as hair-trigger occupiers, terrified of suicide bombers, snipers, and the people themselves.

Ultimately, the U.S. authorities need to create some kind of neo-colonial government--which would be independent on paper, but highly loyal to the interests of U.S. imperialism.

The first step was gathering pro-Western, pro-capitalist, secular, exiled Iraqi professionals and business administrators who might return to Iraq to serve the U.S. occupation government. This happened before the war even started. The Pentagon's Deputy Secretary, now nicknamed "Wolfowitz of Arabia," assembled his colonialist tagteam in Kuwait--pairing a U.S. imperialist overseer with "senior Iraqi advisers" for each ministry.

Meanwhile the main organized political forces inside Iraq today are the Kurdish nationalists in the north, and the Shi'ite fundamentalist parties based in the south. And the U.S. imperialists cannot rely on them to serve its interests.

Marines, Mullahs and Running Dogs

How do the U.S. generals and empire-builders plan to find Iraqi collaborators for a future colonial government?

First, there is the main pro-U.S. exile group, the Iraqi National Congress (INC) of Ahmed Chalabi. It is promoted by some forces in the Pentagon because they consider it reliably pro-imperialist and secular. But the INC is widely hated as slavish CIA agents and corrupt embezzlers.

Second, the U.S. talks about finding "an authentically Iraqi moderate center" and officials now talk about promoting "Islamic democracy."

Millions of Iraqi people are horrified at the fact that the U.S. (while claiming to wage a war against "Islamic fundamentalism") has, in fact, left exactly those forces much stronger in Iraq. There is deep concern that the new mix of Marines-and-Mullahs may further tighten reactionary-religious restrictions on the people, especially the women of Iraq.

Meanwhile, the U.S. commanders have been conducting a roaming "job fair" for puppets--gathering various prominent Iraqi political figures, professionals, preachers and former officials to conferences.

Third, the U.S. has been appointing Iraqis to run the day-to-day operations of various cities and institutions. And to the outrage of many people, these appointees are often officials from the old Saddam Hussein regime--former Ba'athists willing to serve the Americans in top posts.

General Garner has been holding meetings with senior members of the old regime--including former director generals who headed ministries. In the key Oil Ministry, Philip J. Carroll, a former CEO of Shell Oil, will be the senior advisor in Iraq's oil industry while two long-standing Iraqi oilmen will be officially signing the contracts that give access to international oil companies. The official head of the oil ministry will be Thamir Ghadhban, who served under the Saddam Hussein government as head of the Oil Ministry's Directorate of Planning. His vice chairman will be Fadhil Othman who, before going into exile in 1995, served in the Saddam Hussein government heading the agency that exported Iraqi oil.

At the same time, the U.S. military officials have appointed a former general of the Republican Guard to serve as the mayor of Tikrit and the governor of the surrounding Salah ad-Din province. His deputy governor will be a former Iraqi air force colonel.

The U.S. colonial authorities put the old Ba'athist official Muhammad al-Rawiback in charge of Baghdad University, the largest in the country.

A former Ba'athist general has been appointed governor in the key town of Mosul.

The man appointed to head the new Foreign Ministry was a top foreign policy official under Saddam Hussein.

In early May U.S. official Stephen Browning announced that Ali al-Janabi, a senior Ba'ath Party member, had been appointed to head the new Iraqi Ministry of Health. "We are happy to work with him,'' Browning said.

But the medical workers of Baghdad are not so happy. On May 7, hundreds of doctors, nurses and other health workers marched in starched coats through Baghdad, protesting the appointment, chanting, "New clean era!" These health workers have been working day and night under nightmarish conditions--without pay, often without electricity--and now risked the bullets of U.S. guns to protest the return of the old guard to power.

At the ground level, the U.S. authorities have ordered the old Iraqi police to report back to duty. General Hamid Othman, the former Iraqi police chief, was given back command.

One participant in the doctor's march, Dr. Bayyati, described to reporters how he had gone to the U.S. compound to raise complaints, and the man now in control of access to U.S. officials was the brutal warden of Abu Ghraib prison where Bayyati had spent 18 months.

A "Civilian" Face of U.S. Power

Meanwhile, the White House decided to put a civilian face at the top of their new colonial government. L. Paul Bremer III was appointed to be in charge of selecting the coming Iraqi "transitional government." Officially, he is now General Garner's boss in Iraq.

In the U.S. press, this appointment was almost completely reported as a victory of a supposedly moderate, diplomatic wing of the bourgeoisie--a victory of the polite war-hawk Secretary of State Powell over the rude war-hawk Secretary Rumsfeld. And that, not surprisingly, is the message the White House wanted the media to project.

The U.S. is entering negotiations at the UN and seeking to consolidate a new pecking order with the second-tier imperialist countries. This new appointment of a "career diplomat" L. Paul Bremer III is supposed to stir hopes that the U.S. occupation might develop a more multilateral and diplomatic side- -a "kinder gentler occupation."

The facts tell a different story.

This guy Bremer was a pioneer in getting the "anti-terrorist" bandwagon rolling. In 1981, Bremer was special assistant to Reagan's Secretary of State, the crazed General Alexander Haig. Bremer was in charge of the department's "crisis management" center--during those Oliver North days, when the Reagan administration was plotting an invasion of Nicaragua, planning possible global nuclear war, considering the wholesale arrest of internal dissidents, and was spending billions arming death-squad "contra" armies around the world.

Bremer was then appointed "ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism"--meaning he roamed the world conspiring with other governments how to destroy the Palestinian resistance and how to crush anti-apartheid forces in South Africa and similar movements. Twenty years ago, this imperialist was already promoting "anti-terrorism" as a justification for murderous covert operations and "preemptive war."

After leaving the government, Bremer joined Henry Kissinger's high-level think-tank--which served as ruling class go-betweens for global deals (like Unocal's attempt to negotiate a gas pipeline with the Taliban in the 1990s). In 1996, Bremer put forward an early version of the "axis of evil" theory--arguing that the U.S. should target Libya, Syria, Iran and Sudan for supporting anti-U.S. forces. This brought him high into the current government hierarchy after 9/11, where he was known to advocate throwing out the 1975 Church Commission restrictions on CIA "covert operations" like assassination.

With L. Paul Bremer III in charge of appointing Iraqis to power, what kind of justice or freedom can the people of Iraq expect?



Consider this: Last week it came out that the creepy ruling class moralist, William Bennett, has lost over $8 million on a ten-year gambling binge-after scolding us all to obey all strict fascistic patriarchal "virtues." So now we are left scratching our heads and wondering: Which is the bigger, more absurd and uglier lie? William Bennett preaching "virtue" to the world or killers like Bush, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Garner and Bremer "teaching" Iraq's people how to democratically control their own destiny?

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