Saturday, October 07, 2006
IRAQ IS IN THE GRIP of an epidemic of chaos and violence. Last week suicide bombings reached a record high. The Iraqi Government’s panicked response was the declaration of a total three-day curfew across Baghdad last weekend. It is doubtful that this will make much difference.
Official figures report that 6,600 Iraqis suffered violent deaths in July and August, a 13 per cent increase on the previous two months. It is the bitterest of ironies that in the aftermath of an invasion, justified in the name of liberation, the chief expert on torture for the United Nations, Manfred Nowak, describes the current situation as “out of control”, saying that the use of torture by the security forces, militias and the insurgency may be “worse than in the times of Saddam Hussein”.
How did it get this bad?
How indeed? Toby says you can criticise Bush for hubris - that is, for overbearing pride and arrogance - but "three crucial factors explain the bloody situation in Iraq today and point to a possible solution." The first crux:
The three weeks of looting that flared up after American troops reached Baghdad caused the Iraqi State to collapse ... The institutions of the Iraqi State simply do not exist. Ordinary Iraqis try to live as best they can with little or no help from government.
The second problem that has contributed to the extreme instability is the speed with which the United States has sought to divest itself of its postwar responsibilities. In little more than a year it tried and failed to rebuild the Iraqi State and on June 28, 2004, it turned responsibility over to a small group of handpicked politicians.
This new ruling elite has created the third problem hindering Iraq’s reconstruction ... In spite of two elections since the war, government in Iraq is still dominated by corruption, incoherence and a series of petty but disruptive disputes. This new elite has proved singularly unable to rebuild the State, impose order across the country or help the vast majority of Iraqis whose lives continue in misery.
Therefore, steering between two Bad Positions, Toby Dodge recommends a UN protectorate rather than continuing with the same situation or "running away as the antiwar campaigners demand". Essentially, Dodge advocates a modern League of Nations mandate in which imperialist powers working under the rubric of Wilsonian principles seek to guide Iraq slowly toward self-government. The balance of evidence suggests that UN protectorates are not necessarily less imperialist than US occupations. Neither Haiti nor Kosovo nor Bosnia are moving closer to self-government. In Bosnia, Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon and his successor, the German Christian Democrat, Christian Schwarz-Schilling, have acted as local dictators, annulling elections, nixing politicians and overriding laws as they see fit. Dyncorps, a private military contractor for the US government, was found to have been running a sex slavery ring in Bosnia. This is the perfect epilogue to the way in which the "international community" helped bring bloody carnage to Bosnia as part of its drive to break up Yugoslavia. In Kosovo, under the appointed humanitarian dictatorship of Bernard Kouchner, UN forces and their paid surrogates have been running a mini-Guantanamo, while UNMIK and K-FOR forces have been engaged in more sex slavery. This was after they had already overseen a massive ethnic cleansing drive against Serbs by the KLA, at whose head the US placed Croatian army ethnic cleanser, Agim Ceku (Ceku can be seen here between General Wesley Clark and General Sir Mike Jackson, laying hands with Bernard Kouchner and KLA leader Hashem Taqi). Ceku is now the Prime Minister of Kosovo, and Condi's new best friend, who wants to be running the place if and when it is finally made independent from Serbia - and then those 200,000 Serbs remaining in Kosovo had better flee. The Kosovo Protection Force, as the KLA became when Nato forces entered Kosovo, has been found to have been involved in murder, torture, illegal detention and extortion rackets. The record in Haiti is well known to you: the Tonton Macoutes were restored to power by the UN, under the direction of France, Canada and the US, and a wave of massive violence under MINUSTAH, the HNP and their putschist allies has been unleashed. Enquiring minds would surely want to understand how a UN protection racket in Iraq, whose mandate could only be supplied by the largest imperialist power in the world, and which would be operating under its instructions, would fare any better.
The solution in Iraq is extremely simple, and it will impose itself on the occupiers sooner or later: they will have to negotiate a withdrawal with the resistance leaders, and they will have to revert to trying to control Iraq from a distance, although their current proxies may not be available. The very reasons for the failure of state-building in Iraq are: a) Iraqis have refused to accept the designs of the occupiers for their country, and an increasingly large number of them have made it impossible for them to operate; b) the US has been deliberately dismantling and de-funding any potentially independent Iraqi state, allowing billions of dollars of 'reconstruction' money to be embezzled. The only state institutions they have paid great attention to are the Ministry of Oil and the Ministry of Interior; c) the occupiers have, since they realised they could not simply impose a client thug on the whole of Iraq, have sought to break the country up, promoting sectarian political parties and death squads, designing a sectarian constitution and allowing Israel to train up the peshmerga to increase tensions between Sunni Arabs and Kurds. Only through the struggle of Iraqis to overcome this sectarianism and rebuild their country will disaster be averted - in doing so, they will also chasten the aggressive expansionism of the empire, which would be to the benefit of us all.
But that is a solution that treats Iraqis as if they might have a say in what happens to their country, independently of anything preferred by occupation forces or Western academics who occupy a niche as 'nuanced critics' of the occupation.