Iraqi “Handunder” of Sovereignty
The U.S. led Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq decided to move forward by two days the supposed “handover of sovereignty” to the new Iraqi interim government. The event, which was held in secret, does not substantively change anything in Iraq. The 138,000 U.S. troops will still be in Iraq and under U.S. control. The U.S. appointed Iraqi governing council will almost all be members of the new interim government. U.S. corporate interests will still maintain control over Iraq?s oil wealth. The new unelected Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is, according to reporter Rahul Mahajan, “a man with a long history of brutality in the service of power, first as an agent of Saddam’s Mukhabarat, later as an instigator of terrorist attacks in Iraq while backed by the CIA and Britain’s MI6.” He has repeatedly talked about imposing “martial law.” While President Bush has repeatedly used the post WWII occupation of Japan as a metaphor to describe the Iraqi occupation, a more fitting historical analogy might be the British creation of a puppet government in Iraq in 1930.
Iraqi Oil Revenues
A new report from the British charity Christian Aid has found that the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) has failed to document its use of $20 billion of Iraqi oil revenue. According to Christian Aid’s report, Fueling Suspicion: The Coalition and Iraq?s Oil Billions, the CPA’s lack of auditing is a violation of the United Nations resolution giving control of oil revenues to the Coalition Provisional Authority. Christian Aid also reports that Iraqi oil was not being metered and therefore it is unknown exactly how much was earned from oil sales and how much was spent, as information on corporations earning contracts granted by the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) has not been made available. Democracy Now ran an interview with one of the report’s authors, who described how a May 2003 UN resolution authorized the Coalition Provisional Authority to spend Iraqi oil revenue with the condition that an international oversight board be created with an auditor to ensure the funds would be spent to benefit the Iraqi people, yet the auditor did not begin working until April of 2004 and that it faced “resistance from CPA staff” with the audit remaining unpublished.
Questions about Iraqi oil revenue are part of a larger issue pertaining to how money in the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) was spent. While the DFI which was created in May 2003 by UN Resolution 1483 to govern spending of funds from Iraqi oil revenue and seized Iraqi assets, these funds were to be used by the Coalitional Provisional Authority “in a transparent manner to meet the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people” yet there has been little transparency?one line item was noted at $7.4 billion with no details. Now that the CPA is disbanded, it is even less likely that information will be released on how the funds were spent. It is all part of what author Naomi Klein has referred to as the “robbery of reconstruction”–transferring funds for reconstruction to US corporations and using what remains as political leverage to ensure Iraq acts as the United States wishes in the future.
Additionally, the Center for Public Integrity reported this week that Military Professional Resources Inc., a private military services firm with two contracts worth a total of $2.6 million related to the reconstruction of Iraq, wrote a manual titled Contractors on the Battlefield that outlines rules governing the use of contracted workers in the military. It’s not just sympathetic governments writing the rules in Iraq–but contractors themselves.
Saddam Hussein on Trial
While the corporate media reduced its reporting of Saddam Hussein’s trial to mentions of “finger-jabbing” by Hussein and reporting that he was not allowed to wear a tie, independent sources have provided more information. CounterPunch posted a transcript of Hussein’s hearing and Robert Fisk has written two articles on the trial–one that looks at how the trial of Saddam Hussein is a great diversion from current Iraqi problems, functioning as a wonderful photo-op/propaganda piece while the second article provides an analysis of the trial. Perhaps most notable is the corporate media’s acceptance of a series of restrictions in reporting on Saddam Hussein’s trial–no audio, limiting what could be videotaped, and review of footage by the Pentagon–yet another example of the corporate media’s willingness to magnify the official government position.
Iraq War propaganda in Grand Rapids
On Monday June 29, the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce brought to Grand Rapids a panel discussion on Iraq. Not surprisingly given the conservative leanings of the Chamber of Commerce, the panel painted a very positive image of the U.S. occupation in Iraq. Former ABC and NBC reporter and independent film producer Dan North presented his documentary “Remembering Saddam“, a rather antidotal film which uses the story of seven victims of Saddam Hussein?s brutal regime to provide justification for the 2003 invasion. Susan Dakak, an Iraqi-American woman talked about her role in working for women?s rights under the U.S. occupation. The third panelist was James Haveman, the Coalition Provisional Authority Senior Advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Health. North and Dakak also appeared later in the day at a presentation sponsored by the West Michigan Chapter of the World Affairs Council.
Michael Moore?s Fahrenheit 9/11 hit the theaters this week to set record ticket sales for a documentary. While certainly ticket sales were helped by the enormous amount of media buzz generated before the film was released, the fact remains that millions of people across the country flocked to theaters to see a film that presented an alternative view on the Iraq war. Despite whatever strengths or flaws the film might have (and indeed, all the chattering pundits have been busy pointing them out) the success of Fahrenheit 9/11 clearly illustrates that people are tired of the misinformation propagated by FOX/CNN/MSNBC/ABC etc.
Unfortunately, the most common response that people have had to the film has been to jump on the John Kerry bandwagon rather than to get involved in any long term, issue-based movement building. This shortsighted strategy has been promoted by Moore himself working in conjunction with Moveon.org to effectively campaign for Kerry using an “anybody but Bush” rationale.
Fahrenheit 9/11 reviews and articles:
The Problem is Bigger than the Bushes by Stephen Rosenthal
Moore’s Fahrenheit 911 Mocking the Moral Crisis of Capitalism By Couglas Valentine
Blind, Or A Coward? TomPaine.CommonSense
Military Families Call on Bush to See ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ by Deepti Hajela