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Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Exagerating threats? Plundering Iraq? What is the US doing?

Two points about Iraq today:

1. First, activist writer and film maker John Pilger has produced a new documentary "Breaking the Silence: Truth and lies in the war on terror" that is starting to garner attention in England and Australia. In the film (which I have not yet seen), Pilger apparently shows clips from Colin Powell and Condi Rice recorded in 2001, but prior to 9/11, that cast doubt on the threats emanating from Iraq. For example, Pilger apparently has footage of Colin Powell making this statement, which I grabbed from the State Department's official website:
"the sanctions exist -- not for the purpose of hurting the Iraqi people, but for the purpose of keeping in check Saddam Hussein's ambitions toward developing weapons of mass destruction. We should constantly be reviewing our policies, constantly be looking at those sanctions to make sure that they are directed toward that purpose. That purpose is every bit as important now as it was ten years ago when we began it. And frankly they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq."

Pilger wrote an article for the Daily Mirror that also includes these quotes from Powell and Rice:
On May 15 2001, Powell went further and said that Saddam Hussein had not been able to "build his military back up or to develop weapons of mass destruction" for "the last 10 years". America, he said, had been successful in keeping him "in a box".

Two months later, Condoleezza Rice also described a weak, divided and militarily defenceless Iraq. "Saddam does not control the northern part of the country," she said. "We are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."

As I keep saying, this story isn't over.

2. Second, the question of plundering Iraq. The BBC reports that the American-appointed Governing Council in Iraq has decided (surprise!) to "privatize" Iraq's assets (though not oil -- at least not yet). In other words, they'll "sell" them to American companies:

The BBC's 'Nick Springate, in Baghdad, says many ordinary Iraqis will see the moves as a big sell-off with predominantly multi-national, American companies viewed as getting "rewards".'

The story mentions telecoms, construction, get the idea.

This smells an awful lot like the crony capitalism that occurred in Russia in the early 1990s. As Grawemeyer award-winning scholar Janine Wedel pointed out, that was a disaster.

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