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The people were to be liberated from all forms of state control. And [Paul] Bremer immediately set about sacking all members of the Ba’ath Party who had run Iraqi society. It was a dramatic revolutionary move. Overnight the Americans destroyed the civic structure of Iraqi society. But instead of trying to create new institutions Bremer’s plan then set out to engineer the perfect market economy. Which the Americans believed would automatically create a new democracy. All industries and public services were to be privatised immediately. The country would then be thrown open to international corporations, who in return for investing could take 100% of their profits out of country untaxed. Only one of Saddam Hussein’s laws remained – the one that restricted trade unions. Out of this was supposed to come spontaneous order. What resulted was chaos. Adam Curtis, The Trap: We Will Force You to be Free, BBC 2007
What also resulted was corruption on a huge scale: more than $350 billion has been sent to Iraq for reconstruction. ibid.
The Americans began to turn to violence and torture to enforce their kind of freedom. ibid.
Both Tony Blair and George Bush became possessed by the idea of ridding the world of Saddam Hussein. So possessed, that they believed any story that proved his evil intentions. And the line between reality and fiction became every more blurred. Adam Curtis, HyperNormalisation, BBC 2016
They used aircraft to bomb the rebels: they called it aerial policing, they took back control and set about creating the new country called Iraq. But because there was no money, the group could also not afford to survey the country. Instead, with no information, Bell and the others simply projected on to the Arabs that powerful romantic dream of an old England. They decided that the middle classes in the cities who had run the country under the Ottoman empire were corrupt and untrustworthy, which meant that they had to be excluded from power. Instead, power should be given to the Sheikhs who ruled the tribes out in the countryside. To the British the Sheikhs represented the true Iraq because they hadn’t been infected by the corruption of the modern world. Their system was one of a natural order just like in the England of the past. The Sheikhs said Gertrude Bell are like great aristocrats; they will run a system that will maintain a natural equilibrium. The truth was that this picture of Iraq was completely detached from reality. The Sheikhs were really marginal figures. While the Ottomans had begun to create a modern progressive society in the cities. The British now tore that apart. Adam Curtis, Can’t Get You Out of My Head V: The Lordly Ones *****
By 2007 the war in Iraq had become a nightmare. The Americans were pouring nearly a billion dollars in every day to keep a conflict going that no-one knew how to win. ibid.
But what the Americans had found themselves doing was exactly the same as the British had done 80 years before: faced by a complex society they did not understand, they were turning to the tribes outside the cities and giving them power. They called the militias the Sons of Iraq and it seemed to work, but in reality it was going to lead to something even worse … They turned and allied instead with the very people they had been fighting. ibid.
Isis was far more than just another version of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Its public face were the jihadists, but it was organised and guided by men from the Sunni tribes, many of whom had been experienced soldiers in Saddam Hussein’s army. As a result, they swept through Iraq and on into Syria. ibid.
In his first 100 days, Obama has excused torture, opposed habeas corpus and demanded more secret government. He has kept Bush’s gulag intact and at least 17,000 prisoners beyond the reach of justice. On 24 April, his lawyers won an appeal that ruled Guantanamo Bay prisoners were not ‘persons’, and therefore had no right not to be tortured. His national intelligence director, Admiral Dennis Blair, says he believes torture works. One of his senior US intelligence officials in Latin America is accused of covering up the torture of an American nun in Guatemala in 1989; another is a Pinochet apologist. As Daniel Ellsberg has pointed out, the US experienced a military coup under Bush, whose secretary of ‘defence’, Robert Gates, along with the same war-making officials, has been retained by Obama.
All over the world, America’s violent assault on innocent people, directly or by agents, has been stepped up. During the recent massacre in Gaza, reports Seymour Hersh, ‘the Obama team let it be known that it would not object to the planned resupply of smart bombs and other hi-tech ordnance that was already flowing to Israel’ and being used to slaughter mostly women and children. In Pakistan, the number of civilians killed by US missiles called drones has more than doubled since Obama took office.
In Afghanistan, the US ‘strategy’ of killing Pashtun tribespeople (the ‘Taliban’) has been extended by Obama to give the Pentagon time to build a series of permanent bases right across the devastated country where, says Secretary Gates, the US military will remain indefinitely. Obama’s policy, one unchanged since the Cold War, is to intimidate Russia and China, now an imperial rival. He is proceeding with Bush’s provocation of placing missiles on Russia’s western border, justifying it as a counter to Iran, which he accuses, absurdly, of posing ‘a real threat’ to Europe and the US. On 5 April in Prague, he made a speech reported as ‘anti-nuclear’. It was nothing of the kind. Under the Pentagon’s Reliable Replacement Warhead programme, the US is building new ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons designed to blur the distinction between nuclear and conventional war.
Perhaps the biggest lie – the equivalent of smoking is good for you – is Obama’s announcement that the US is leaving Iraq, the country it has reduced to a river of blood. According to unabashed US army planners, as many as 70,000 troops will remain ‘for the next 15 to 20 years’. On 25 April, his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, alluded to this. It is not surprising that the polls are showing that a growing number of Americans believe they have been suckered – especially as the nation’s economy has been entrusted to the same fraudsters who destroyed it. Lawrence Summers, Obama’s principal economic adviser, is throwing $3trn at the same banks that paid him more than $8m last year, including $135,000 for one speech. Change you can believe in. John Pilger, article New Statesman, ‘Obama’s 100 days - The Mad Men Did Well’
There was a great deal of publicity and empathy last week for the four tourists, two of them Britons, murdered in Yemen. There has been nothing for the 68 Iraqi civilians murdered by the American and British governments shortly before Christmas.
The parallels between the two attacks are striking. Both were premeditated lawless acts for political ends, and they are connected. It is likely the Britons died as a direct consequence of their own government's criminal actions in Iraq.
This, and the real danger of revenge attacks, was clearly not a consideration when the bellicose figure of Tony Blair rose in parliament to play Palmerston, and George Robertson pleaded the case for state murder, then disclaimed it in the letters columns of the Guardian. ‘We believe,’ he wrote, ‘that none of the munitions that missed [their targets] hit civilian targets’. Note that the word he chooses is believe, not know or can verify.
Consider this Defence Secretary. Shortly after the election, Robertson proposed a military experience for new Labour MPs who, he said, should spend at least 21 days ‘getting to know’ life with the troops. He described the head of Indonesia’s murderous special forces, a kind of Waffen-SS responsible for genocide in East Timor, as ‘an enlightened officer, keen [on] human rights’. He further distinguished himself by making clear his government was prepared to use ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons against Iraq.
As for Blair, his platitudes misled parliament and us all. Far from ‘punishing’ Saddam Hussein, the real Anglo-American objective is to secure an American oil protectorate to the Caspian Sea, along with isolating Iraq, so that its high-quality crude oil, 20 per cent of the world’s reserves, is not allowed to flow into the international market and force down the price of Saudi oil. Shoring up Saudi Arabia is critical for American and British capital; most of the British arms industry is dependent on the al-Yamamah deal with Saudi sheikhs.
To this end, Blair and Robertson approved the equivalent of hundreds of Omagh bombs hurled at a country where an estimated million children have died as a result of sanctions. This is a silent holocaust which Ethical Man Robin Cook disingenuously denies while another 5,000 children die every month. When you next hear Blair and Straw and Blunkett lecturing us on morality, on the importance of the family and doing your homework, think of their government’s crime in the Gulf. John Pilger, article 8th January 1999, ‘The Press is Obsessed With Petty Vendettas While British Ministers Continue to Support a Silent Holocaust’