A Recipe for Disaster
By Mary McIntyre
The Iraqis have been given time to contemplate the high price they’ve paid for their “liberation” since the toppling of the Saddam statue in Baghdad. One month later, electricity is still not reliably available. Outbreaks of cholera caused by contaminated drinking water have been reported. Hospitals are unable to administer effective medical care. Lootings, shootings, and acts of vandalism continue. Schools are not operating. People are unable to report to their jobs. (There’s little incentive anyway, since most of the workforce dependent on the now fallen government for distribution of pay hasn’t received any since March 16). Violent confrontations between our forces and Iraqi demonstrators are on the rise and resentment of the US occupation is steadily mounting.
Outside of assigning contracts to American companies for rehabilitating the oil industry, plans for reconstruction seem to have ground to a screeching halt. What accounts for this state of paralysis? Though unlikely to heed the lesson offered by the current state of affairs, the neocons have been shown that there’s more to regime change than manufacturing lies and dropping a few bombs. There is no order because — there is no money.
Just prior to the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, former chairman of the Pentagon Defense Policy Board, Richard Perle, exclaimed through his article that appeared in the March 21 edition of The Guardian, “Thank God for the death of the UN.” However, as the following Catch-22 exemplifies, saying it does not necessarily make it so.
The rest of the world still takes international law seriously. France and Russia are holding fast to their stance that sanctions should not be lifted until there is confirmed evidence that Iraq is free of the WMD that the US insisted were present. So far, the special group assembled by the US to find such evidence at the sites cited by Colin Powell last February has come up empty-handed. The US has asserted that funding the reconstruction cannot get underway until full trade is resumed. Adding to this, the UN resolutions requiring Security Council approval for Iraqi oil sales and the disbursement of revenue have not been willed away. As a result, countries are reluctant to buy Iraqi oil. Lastly, the Bush Administration’s request to 60 countries to forward the millions of dollars worth of Iraq’s frozen assets in their possession to a US controlled fund apparently hasn’t happened. At the time this suggestion was first made last April, even Britain had refused to do so, instead wanting the assets in its possession to instead go to the UN.
Currently overwhelmed by a state of chaos and violence, the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) established by the US and Great Britain is in the process of regrouping. Retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner is being rotated out earlier than originally planned, replaced by State Department official Paul Bremer. Barbara Bodine, the current “mayor of Baghdad,” is being recalled after only three weeks for reassignment elsewhere. However, the mayhem cannot be blamed on the performance of a few officials, for it is the overall structure of the plan that is amiss — a plan that is based on erroneous predictions by Iraqi defectors connected with Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress who the Defense Department insisted on believing, counter to the advice of the CIA and State Department. The damage to the country resulting from the warfare was thus not anticipated. One would think that the current state of Iraq stands as example enough of the catastrophe that can result from considering opposition groups to be reliable sources of intelligence.
The neocons: blinded by faith?
However, the neocons — blinded by their tendency to believe any source that will legitimize the expansion of their war plans — seem to be following the same treacherous path with regard to Iran in heeding to the advice of the Mujahideen al Khalq (MEK), also known as the People’s Warriors. When still operating in Iran in the 1970s this leftist group, long considered by the US to be a terrorist organization, was said to be behind the murder of Americans occupying Iran in the last days of the Pahlavi reign. They are also said to have participated in the takeover of the US Embassy in 1979, but were shortly thereafter required to flee to Iraq with the rise of Khomeini, due to a clash of ideologies. Once established in Iraq, the Mujahideen set up guerilla bases from which to harass and attack Iran.
Playing upon the neocon fear of possible incursions of Iran-based Shiite Muslim forces in Iraq that could sway Iraqis in the direction of wanting a theocracy, the Mujahideen convinced the US to allow them to keep their arms to fight against such forces, which they claimed were crossing the border into Iraq. The US enacted a ceasefire with them. This group also seized the opportunity to escalate concern regarding Iran’s potential to possess WMD, and is a primary source of the recent allegations regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Iran continues to claim that that its nuclear program is only intended to generate electricity, and is confident that its facilities will pass the inspection scheduled in June.
Are you a good terrorist,or a bad terrorist?
The hypocrisy of bargaining with an organization that is classified by our own government as terrorists has not escaped notice. Speaking to the apparent double standard the US holds in its war on terrorism, Iran’s leadership has surmised that in the eyes of the US, there are good terrorists and there are bad terrorists. The bad terrorists are those who refuse to be servants to the US.
Meetings facilitated by the UN have recently taken place between US officials and Iran’s leadership. However, indicative of the degree of mutual mistrust that exists, both camps are quick to clarify that these meetings in no way should be interpreted to imply a return to diplomatic relations. The recent displays of reckless behavior demonstrated by the US have most certainly done nothing to allay the fears of Iran’s top clergy.
Consequently, the citizen’s of Iran are experiencing a resurgence of hardliner crackdown. Fear breeds fear. As the French say, “Plus cá change, plus c’est la meme chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same).”