micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links
Welcome to the musings and notes of a Cadillac, Michigan based writer named Micah Holmquist, who is bothered by his own sarcasm.
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Wednesday, May 28, 2003
The Iraqi colony
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld laid forth the "Core Principles for a Free Iraq" in an op/ed piece in yesterday's Wall Street Journal and then spoke on the same points yesterday afternoon in a speech before the Council on Foreign Relations. The basic message was that "The ultimate political outcome must be decided by the Iraqi people, within the broad principles of the rule of law, minority rights, individual liberty, and representative democracy" by which it was clear that Iraqis would have full freedom to determine the future of their country so long as participants in Saddam's regime are not involved in the control of power, a "market economy" is developed, the economy is diversified, state enterprises are privatized, the country does not develop weapons of mass destruction and the borders of the British Mandate remain in place. Using nearly identical language to that of the op/ed piece, yesterday afternoon the Secretary of Defense said, "Iraq's oil wealth will be used for the benefit of the Iraqi people" just after saying, "the Coalition Provisional Authority is developing a plan for the Iraqi oil industry that's based on transparency." Rumsfeld stressed that this would not always be a smooth process and that bumps in the road were not a sign of failure since "No nation that has made the transition from tyranny to a free society has been immune to the difficulties and challenges of taking that path--not even our own."
It comes across clearly in both documents that the Bush Administration wants control over significant aspects of Iraq and intends to exercise such control but that it does not want absolute control and wants the public of Iraq, the U.S. and the rest of the world to believe that what control it does exercise is for the good of the Iraqis and that a process of colonization is not going on in Iraq because absolute control is not sought. "In staffing ministries and positioning Iraqis in ways that will increase their influence, the Coalition will work to have supportive Iraqis involved as early as possible--so that Iraqi voices can explain the goals and direction to the Iraqi people. Only if Iraqis are engaged in, responsible for, and explaining and leading their fellow citizens will broad public support develop that is essential for security," Rumsfeld writes in a passage from the op/ed that illustrates this phenomenon. A "civil society" is sought but it will hardly be a free market of ideas as the Coalition -which is largely another way of saying the U.S. with the aid of other countries- will stack the deck in favor of those it deems favorable.
The Coalition is to be the sole force from the outside impacting Iraq. "Assistance from Iraq's neighbors will be welcomed. Conversely, interference in Iraq by its neighbors or their proxies--including those whose objective is to remake Iraq in Iran's image--will not be accepted or permitted," Rumsfeld wrote in the Journal.
And there is no timetable for the return of power to Iraqis. This is understandable given the many unknowns and yet it is still problematic because it opens up at least the possibility that the occupation of Iraq could go on for many years, especially if such an outcome is desired for one reason or another by the Coalition. Nor does Rumsfeld discuss any specifics as to what sort of involvement of the Coalition will be needed in even the short term to help achieve the goals that have been set for Iraq.
None of this is particularly remarkable or atrocious by the standards of colonial powers and yet it would be nice if the Rumsfeld could just be honest and not over extend the reach of his argument, as he does in the part of the op/ed that reads, "Whenever possible, contracts for work in Iraq will go to those who will use Iraqi workers and to countries that supported the Iraqi people's liberation so as to contribute to greater regional economic activity and to accelerate Iraq's and the region's economic recovery."
The U.S. has a new colony. Maybe it will do a good job with Iraq and maybe it won't. But to deny what is going on is absurd.
Here is an "official" news article on the cooperation between the U.S. military and the Sudanese government.
Some Charlie Chaplin films are coming out on DVD on July 1, including a restored version of Modern Times. I guess it is a positive commentary on society that there is interest in the 1936, but the fact that it won't play in but a small fraction of the theaters that show ever forgettable Hollywood "blockbuster" of today because people aren't interested in seeing it in its original format is depressing.
They are almost three weeks old now but David Rees has published the 24th page of get your war on.