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Posted by Sadie from D006049.N1.Vanderbilt.Edu ( on Wednesday, August 06, 2003 at 12:13PM :

In Reply to: Re-Constructing or De-Constructing Iraq? posted by Sadie from D006049.N1.Vanderbilt.Edu ( on Wednesday, August 06, 2003 at 12:11PM :

Re-Constructing or De-Constructing Iraq? (2/2)

The viciously anti-union Stevedoring Services of America (SSA) was awarded, by USAID, an initial contract of $4.8 million for the "provision of initial assessment of the Umm Qasr port in order to facilitate timely delivery of humanitarian supplies and other needed materials for reconstruction; development of improvement plans to overcome port-imposed constraints; hiring of port pilots to guide ships up the channel; facilitation of cargo-handling services such as warehousing, shipment tracking, refrigerated and other cargo storage; and coordination of onward transport of shipments from the seaport at Umm Qasr." SSA got this contract before the U.S. forces had even occupied the city.

Deconstructing more than just the economy

In addition to transforming the economy into a free-for-all for corporations, the U.S. plans to build three permanent military bases in Iraq. Clearly, these military bases will significantly limit any real Iraqi sovereignty, ensure that the pro-U.S. leader remains in power and limit true democratic struggles in Iraq. In addition, the bases will have far-reaching regional consequences, and further develop the military reach of the U.S. Empire.

The U.S. government also plans to change Iraq's position towards the Palestinians. The new Iraqi government, whenever the U.S. appoints it, will have to acquiesce to Israel, [23] open an oil pipeline through Israel [24] and relinquish support for the Palestinians. It is no coincidence that the first (and thus far only) foreign diplomatic mission that the U.S. troops invaded and ransacked, the first diplomats arrested and the first legally licensed weapons confiscated, were Palestinian.

In addition, 90,000 Palestinians are threatened with eviction in Iraq. Most of the displaced and threatened Palestinians are families from Haifa who were displaced in 1948, when the exclusively Jewish state of Israel was built on the land of Palestine. They cannot go back to their homes and lands in what is now Israel because the Israeli government does not recognize their legal right of return. They are not welcome because they are Christian and Muslim, and not Jews.

The similarities between Iraq and Palestine grow daily. Both people have the same demands: an end to the occupation, no theft of their natural resources and full respect of international law (including the right of return for the 6.5 million Palestinians.)

What to do?

There are numerous ways to examine this occupation of Iraq: through the lens of military occupation and drive for empire; the racism that allows the dehumanization of people; or the driving force of increased corporate power. All are accurate. The first two angles have been discussed thoroughly; corporate power-and its influences on foreign and domestic people-needs to be brought further into the discussion of Iraq.

So, what can be done about corporate power? What has been done before?

After the First World War, a Senate committee was formed under the leadership of Gerald Nye to investigate the activities of the munitions industry during the war. Public hearings before the Munitions Investigating Committee began on September 4, 1934. In the reports published by the committee it was claimed that there was a strong link between the American government's decision to enter the war and the lobbying of the munitions industry.

A more powerful historical example, is the use of excess war profits tax. During the Civil War, there was a public outcry in Georgia against profiteering from the war. Georgia's General Assembly responded by enacting a special profits tax. In 1917, the U.S. federal government adopted an excess profits tax, which continued in various forms and at increasing rates until 1921. It was revived by federal legislation during the Second World War and during the Korean War. The tax was imposed on the excess over a firm's peacetime earnings or over an arbitrarily decreed earnings rate. Great Britain also levied an excess profits tax from 1915-21, with a rate varying from 40 to 80 percent. During the era of the Second World War, Britain's excess profits tax was revived, with tax rates increased to 100 percent.

Presently in Congress, several senators have introduced the Sunshine in the Iraq Reconstruction Contracting Act of 2003, to bring transparency to the awarding of contracts. The act is far from sufficient, but a start. More importantly, the Berkeley city council passed a resolution urging "our Congress members in the House and Senate to introduce legislation calling for a high percentage tax on all excess profits on every contract dealing with U.S. military action in Iraq and/or the "rebuilding" of Iraq, including renegotiation of all such contracts made to include this tax." [25]

It's a start.

The Institute for Southern Studies has launched a War Profiteers Campaign to highlight and attack the various ways corporations are profiting from the death and destruction of war in Iraq-from multi-million dollar reconstruction contracts to Bush-connected corporations, to the looming privatization of oil, water and other industries in Iraq that are designed to ensure U.S./European multinational control of the country well after the military occupation ends. [26]

No real change can occur to end corporate power, domestically here in the U.S. and abroad, without demands from the people, without organizing.

The only liberation in Iraq is the "liberation" of Iraq's resources to U.S companies. The same companies that are stealing Iraq's resources, are stealing U.S. taxpayers' money, and moving for privatization of everything abroad and at home, from water to prisons. Both countries-Iraq and the U.S. (and others)-are being cut open for corporations. Here in the U.S., our streets are not-yet-run by the military. We are not shot at checkpoints. We are not under threat of a civil war. And many of us remain, however much we may hate it, the guardians [27] of this very military-industrial-congressional-prison complex that is robbing and killing in Iraq, and elsewhere.

As the guardians, let's revolt against this system.

Rania Masri is the director of the Southern Peace Research and Education Center, a project of the Institute for Southern Studies ( She has articles published in the following books: Iraq: Its History, People, and Politics (2003); Iraq Under Siege (2002); and The Struggle for Palestine (2002). She has a doctorate from North Carolina State University. Born in Beirut, she currently lives in North Carolina.


1 Bob Graham, "I just pulled the trigger," London Evening Standard, June 19, 2003, available online at Also note that these same soldiers, when they come home to the U.S., are more prone to committing domestic violence than their civilian counterparts, see Jon Elliston and Catherine Lutz, "Hidden Casualties: An epidemic of domestic violence when troops return from war," Southern Exposure, available online at

2 See Arundhati Roy, Power Politics (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2001).

3 "Promoting privatization," February 3, 2003, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, available online at

4 Tim Carney was the U.S. ambassador to Sudan and Haiti.

5 The breakdown of Iraqi companies and ministries is planned in three stages: those that could be privatized early (fast-track), those that "should" be held back and those that "should" be dissolved, or merged before they are sold.

6 See online It is very ironic, by the way, for Bremer to criticize Saddam Hussein's regime for "expending at least one-third of GDP on the military" when the current U.S. federal budget sets aside about 20 percent-almost $400 billion-for military expenditure. Iraq's total military expenditure was a tiny fraction of U.S. expenditure.

7 Read Bremer's remarks at the World Economic Forum, available online at

8 A complete listing of the appointed "advisers" is available online on The Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research Web site at See Jan Oberg, "Profiles of the Americans really Running Iraq," May 18, 2003.

9 Elizabeth Schulte, "Bush and his corporate pals rob Iraq. The cronyest capitalists in the world," Socialist Worker, May 9, 2003.

10 See Rohan Jayasekera, "U.S. military and free speech: Gives with one hand, takes away with the other," June 11, 2003, Index on Censorship, available online at; and Robert Fisk, "Censorship of the press: A familiar story for Iraqis," Independent, June 11, 2003, available online at

11 Mark Forbes, "'Dumb' bombs used to topple Saddam," The Age (Melbourne, Australia), June 3, 2003.

12 Ibid.

13 Also see Simon Jeffery, "War may have killed 10,000 civilians, researchers say," Guardian, June 13, 2003.

14 "Iraqis living in limbo struggle to keep hope alive," CARE, June 22, 2003, available online at

15 "One in five Iraqis suffers from chronic poverty: Survey," World Food Program, June 19, 2003, available at

16 Jim Krane, "U.S. announces creation of new Iraqi army," Associated Press, June 23, 2003.

17 Humeira Iqtidar, "Celebration in Iraqi streets," Znet, April 23, 2003, available online at

18 For example, see Stephen Shalom, "Iraq war quiz," Znet, March 26, 2003 and "The corporate invasion of Iraq: Profile of U.S. corporations awarded contracts in U.S./British-occupied Iraq," U.S. Labor Against the War, June 15, 2003, available online at

19 David Baker, "Debate rages over who will run Iraq's utilities. Privatization vs. public control emerges as key issue in shaping future of country," San Francisco Chronicle, June 8, 2003.

20 Chris Kromm, executive director of the Institute for Southern Studies, contributed most significantly to this section on RTI.

21 Baker.

22 For good background on the history of USAID, see Communications for a Sustainable Future Web site at

23 "Sources at the State Department said that concluding a peace treaty with Israel is to be 'top of the agenda' for a new Iraqi government, and Chalabi is known to have discussed Iraq's recognition of the state of Israel." Ed Vuillamy, "Israel seeks pipeline for Iraqi Oil," Guardian, April 20, 2003.

24 See Hoomam Peimami, "In the pipeline: More regime change," Asia Times, April 4, 2003, available online at and Akiva Eldar, "The pipeline to Haifa: Israeli minister dreams of Iraqi oil," CounterPunch, April 1, 2003, available online at

25 Read more about the Cities for Peace Campaign on their Web site at

26 Contact the Institute for Southern Studies for more information about the War Profiteers Campaign at their Web site or contact the author at

27 This phrase-"guardians of the system"-is derived from Howard Zinn, who wrote in the conclusion of his book The Twentieth Century: A People's History: "The prisoners of the system will continue to rebel, as before, in ways that cannot be foreseen, at times that cannot be predicted. The new fact of our era is the chance that they may be joined by the guards. We readers and writers of books have been, for the most part, among the guards. If we understand that, and act on it, not only will our life be more satisfying, right off, but our grandchildren, or our great grandchildren, might possibly see a different and marvelous world."

-- Sadie
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