Guns, Puppets, and Ballot Boxes

Ugly U.S. Plans for Dominating Iraq

Revolutionary Worker #1243, June 13, 2004, posted at

One year into the conquest of Iraq, the U.S. government is eager (very, very eager) to announce that their armies are no longer occupiers there.

They want to claim there is an Iraqi government that wants the invaders there. They want such a government to legally approve their presence.

And they want to convince the world (including people in both the U.S. and Iraq) that their goals in Iraq are not to control Iraq or to dominate the huge parts of the world that rely on Persian Gulf oil--but to help Iraq's people.

And so, they have invented "Handover Day," June 30.

At this magical moment the U.S. will supposedly hand over power to a "transitional Iraqi government." Occupation will end. This government will be "sovereign"--meaning: in control of the country's affairs and destiny. And this new government will then hold "democratic elections" (currently scheduled for Jan. 31) to create a national assembly. And Iraq's people will then (supposedly) be free and in control (even though U.S. armies will be camped all over their country and region for many, many years).

And that is the official line from Washington, D.C.

Now let's look at some truth.

Who Controls the Guns

"In the war against the militias every door American troops crash through, every civilian bystander shot--there will be many--will make matters worse, for a while. Nevertheless, the first task of the occupation remains the first task of government: to establish a monopoly on violence."

Conservative columnist George Will, Washington Post , April 7, 2004

Whenever the U.S. government says its interim government will be "sovereign"--they get asked: "If this government asks you to leave, will you go?"

The U.S. government gave every possible response to that question--but the real answer was always obvious: No, this government in Iraq will not have the power to control U.S. troops or make them leave.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said (months ago) that the new transitional government would not have the power to ask the U.S. to leave. More recently, Secretary of State Colin Powell said that they would have the power to ask the U.S. to leave. Then Bush's personal tutor and top advisor Condoleezza Rice said that the question didn't matter, since the coming Iraqi government wouldn't want to ask the U.S. to leave.

And Powell returned to the question by saying UN resolutions on Iraq should not say the interim government has the final say. "You can't use the word `veto'," Powell insisted. Why? Because, he explained, "There could be a situation where we have to act and there may be a disagreement."

In other words, the U.S. government intends to use its troops in the Middle East and, in case of "disagreement," will still do what it wants.

(So much for "sovereign.")

No one was surprised when the first major statement of the new Iraqi Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, asked U.S. armies to stay. As soon as "handover" happens, Allawi said he will sign a formal treaty to have U.S. and allied armies in his country. That was, after all, the job Allawi was hired to do.

The U.S. creates this "government," the "government" begs the U.S. armies to stay, and signs a treaty making it all legal.

The U.S. government will claim its troops are now there by formal invitation--to make a future democracy possible by "providing security." And they will claim that armed Iraqi resistance is not fighting foreign invaders--but are just (according to Bush) "violent people who want to stop progress."

These kinds of arrangements are called "puppet governments"--where a country's handpicked government officials seem to move and talk, but everyone sees the strings that lead back to the outside imperialist puppetmaster.

What the World Is Watching

"The problem is that many Iraqis may interpret the government that is created now as essentially acting on our behalf and being a stooge for us."

Zbigniew Brezezinski, National Security Advisor to President Carter Lehrer News Hour, May 25,

"He was an American candidate. They brought him to us. We supported him.&quot:

Mahmoud Othman, Kurdish member of Iraq Governing Council explaining the council's rubberstamp of Allawi

"These are not America's puppets. This is a terrific list and really good government, and we're very pleased with the names that emerged."

Condoleezza Rice Bush's National Security Adviser

This Iraqi government was literally invented by the U.S. Occupation Authority.

Its leading figures were hired like actors auditioning for a role.

Right after the U.S. invasion, the U.S. Pentagon and intelligence agencies started gathering Iraqi figures who they thought might serve them well in some future Iraqi government.

The Pentagon literally airlifted in Ahmad Chalabi, a notorious CIA agent, with over 700 of his well-paid operatives--and paid them millions to spy on the resistance and help create a new puppet government.

Other wannabe Iraqi puppets got tested in various jobs--by sitting on the powerless Iraqi Governing Council, helping to write a bogus new Constitution, or serving in occupation ministries that carried out the conquest of their country and the "privatization" of its wealth.

As the Iraqi armed resistance spread, Bush announced last fall that he would "hand over" power to some unnamed domestic clique on June 30. And the UN offered to provide a figleaf of "international legitimacy" by picking the A-List of new Iraqi officials.

But when it came down to it, even the UN envoy Brahimi's choices were brushed aside--and the U.S. picked Iyad Allawi, a tried-and-tested CIA agent, for Iraq's new Prime Minister.

Before the U.S. invasion, Allawi lived his corrupt and repulsive life outside Iraq--in high-paid service to the U.S. empire. His specialty was secretly trying to recruit high-level forces (within Saddam Hussein's army and party) for a pro-U.S. coup.

Putting him in power shows that the U.S. now intends to bring back more and more former Baathist generals and government officials from Saddam Hussein's government--promoting Baathist Sunnis to balance the power and demands of Iraq's Shiite parties.

And, at the same time, Allawi's rival Ahmad Chalabi (another ambitious CIA agent ) fell out of favor. On May 20, Chalabi's offices were raided. (For more see the article in this issue: "Iraq: A Tale of Two Cousins.")

These puppet wars produced an angry public confrontation inside the U.S. ruling class: On May 22, a delegation of high-level Republican rightwingers marched into the office of Condoleezza Rice, Bush's National Security Advisor. The crew included Richard Perle, a behind-the-scenes war-planner, and James Woolsey, a former CIA director. These were long-time promoters of Chalabi and were angrily demanding an end to the "smear campaign" against their number one Iraqi agent.

Chalabi had represented a different strategy for developing a pro-U.S. government--opposed to bringing former Baathists back into power. The CIA had (reportedly) backed Allawi, and the Pentagon's top "neocons" were backing Chalabi. Perle and Woolsey are leading figures of the "neo- conservative" imperialists operating outside the government, while their co-thinkers inside the government include Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz (among others).

In other words, the picking of Allawi involved far-reaching decisions about which political forces inside Iraq would become the country's new ruling group.

And where was it being decided who would get which strategic position?

Woolsey and Perle (two major "behind the scenes" players in global U.S. decisions) clearly think they have a say in who gets power in Iraq.

(And think for a second: who are these retired U.S. spymasters and war mongers to make decisions over the people and resources of Iraq a half world away!!?? What is ANY of this but naked imperialism and colonialism!)

And when Woolsey and Perle have a complaint over these strategic decisions for Iraq, where do they go? To the Iraqi people? No. To the "American people"? Nope. To world public opinion? No again.

That's not where all of this is being decided. They storm into the White House and confront Condoleezza Rice. Bush publicly said (June 1) that he had "no role" in selecting Iraq's leaders. This may be true--but everyone also knows that Bush's government decided everything about who got appointed in Iraq's new puppet posts.

This dispute (over which forces, circles, and political forces within Iraq's ruling class will be targets of recruitment into the future pro-U.S. government) is fought out inside the U.S. ruling class (and, in this case, inside the ruling Republican clique). And it is fought out on the basis of what they think serves them best.

(If we were flies on the wall in Rice's White House office, the heated debate we heard would NOT be over how best to serve Iraq's people and their future"!)

One Step on the On-Going Road of Domination

Bush called his new Iraqi interim government "one step closer to democracy."

Ah, Democracy. Democracy is (as we all know) what the U.S. claims its goals are--in Iraq and throughout the world.

Bush said in the historic speech that announced his "Bush Doctrine" (September 20, 2002) that the world now had only one "single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy and free enterprise."

The "free enterprise" imposed on Iraq means that U.S. corporations now run and exploit Iraq's highly strategic oil and chemical industries--and rival imperialists like France and Russia get pressured to forget about the deals they made with the old Baathist regime (and forget about payment of money owed to them by Iraq).

The new "interim government" is expected to sign all kinds of new treaties--making the "privatization" and sale of Iraqi wealth final and legal. And setting up new contracts for the exploitation of their oil--which are expected to be made with companies of the invading countries.

Meanwhile, what are the steps taken by the U.S. toward "democracy" in Iraq?

First, puppet forces are recruited, tested, financed, trained, and put in power--based simply and solely on whether they seem likely to serve U.S. interests. Other forces (who in various ways and for various reasons, oppose or threaten U.S. plans for Iraq) are suppressed, marginalized and killed--using assassins, prison interrogators, death squads and tank shells.

While the U.S. occupation authorities are pouring millions of dollars into their "own" TV and radio media for Iraq, their troops padlocked a prominent Islamist newspaper in Baghdad because they didn't like its coverage.

Meanwhile anyone who expresses any views opposed to the occupation have no legal protection--they face the threat of jail-without-charges, torture, rape and even murder (as the photos from Abu Ghraib showed). And (at the same time) U.S. agents in Iraq are not subject to Iraqi laws, and their shadowy "civilian contractors" are not subject to ANY laws, not even U.S. military law (and can apparently kill and torture at will).

So much for "freedom of press" and "rule of law."

In short, the U.S. government is going all out to establish their own stable domination and exploitation of Iraq-- by any means necessary. And they are using the conquest of Iraq to plan the transformation of the whole surrounding, highly strategic region.

And while they do all this, they will claim they are "bringing democracy"--because they will (almost certainly) hold some kind of elections in Iraq once "the country is ready for elections." Ready means pacified. Areas with strong opposition will not have elections. And areas where the opposition has been killed or crushed will be considered "ready for democracy."

And U.S. officials, like Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, have already said that certain political forces are just not acceptable to the U.S.--and will simply not be allowed to hold power, even if they win elections.

All of these preparations and repressions make it clear that any U.S.-created democracy will have nothing to do with giving real power to the masses of people in Iraq. And elections will have everything to do with continuing, enforcing and stabilizing continuing U.S. domination over the people in Iraq.

These elections will be completely controlled by the U.S. invaders and their various emerging allies and puppets.

The elections will not make any basic decisions in any case--since the key decisions will be made through treaties and laws that legalize the U.S. occupation and the foreign capitalist control of Iraqi wealth.

These elections will have the primary purpose of giving some flimsy legitimacy to a future pro-U.S. government in Iraq--(legitimacy which this Allawi will never have!) And they will serve as a way of channeling, confining, and controlling the political activity of the masses of people in Iraq.

And all of that, if you think about it, is also precisely how electoral democracy works inside the U.S. too--where (in times like this current election circus) people are forced to pick between tested representatives of the system, and where the whole structure and direction of society and the basic policies of government are removed from the election debate and discussion.

Wielding the Real Power

Who will rule Iraq after this bogus "handover" of power?

Aside from the fact that U.S. troops will stay, and probably grow in number, and aside from the fact that this Iraqi government will have no say in what they do, or whether they stay. And aside from the fact that it now has no troops of its own, and when it does it will probably not command them.

Aside from all that, the U.S. is setting up the world's largest "embassy" in Baghdad--with a staff of 3,000 in a vast complex that is being built over five years..

Embassies are officially supposed to communicate with a country's government, and study its political developments. But this vast "embassy" complex will be built like previous U.S. embassies in the countries of Central America--where the U.S. "embassy" ran the local puppet government, ordered around the local military, and picked which general or plantation owner would become the next president.

And this new colonial U.S. embassy in Iraq will be run by Ambassador John D. Negroponte, who has no background in Iraqi or Middle Eastern affairs, but served as an architect of Ronald Reagan's bloody reign of terror and murder in Central America.

Negroponte is the blood-soaked U.S. cutthroat who used the U.S. "embassy" in Honduras (from 1981-1985) as a headquarters to unleash death squads on the people of Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras.

On the day he announced his new ambassador to Iraq, President Bush said, "John Negroponte is a man of enormous experience and skill" and "has done a really good job of speaking for the United States to the world about our intentions to spread freedom and peace."

So what is being set up in Iraq is classic "neo-colonialism"--which has long been the hallmark of U.S. domination in the third world. The countries dominated by the U.S. are not mainly ruled directly by colonial governors. On paper, countries like the Philippines, or Honduras, or the Congo, or Peru have been "independent" and have their own "sovereign" governments. But the real power is wielded by imperialism--through all its various arms, including the U.S. military, intelligence services, its ambassador, armies of "advisors," high-level bankers and corporate operatives, and all those local puppets who understand U.S. interests well.

Look close at Negroponte's grim killer's face--It gives a chilling glimpse of what the U.S. government has in store for the people as "Iraq moves towards democracy."