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The Shock Doctrine: Iraq, Full Circle - Overshock - Erasing A Country - Part 6

Politics / Iraq War Oct 02, 2007 - 12:15 AM GMT

By: Stephen_Lendman

Politics Perhaps no country provides a greater untapped opportunity for unfettered capitalism than Iraq. It represents the planet's last remaining low-hanging oil resources fruit with potentially more of it than Saudi Arabia according to some oil analysts. It's also strategically located in the heart of the oil-rich Middle East (with two-thirds of proved reserves) Klein calls the "crusade's....final frontier." Iraq's potential alone is so enormous it made war the way to crack open its market potential because peaceful methods hadn't worked. Its conquest would then serve as "a different model in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world" that could become a catalyst to opening the whole region.



The potential is a giant free-trade zone, the illusion of newly created democracies, and the freedom for unfettered capitalism "to feed off freshly privatized states." Klein explained this as "the model theory," Iraq as the model, with the idea not being nation-building but nation-creating. But what of the nation already there that's known as the "cradle of civilization." It would have to be erased, and Chicago School fundamentalism would create a new one in its place in its own image with a blank slate to work from.

Bush administration war planners considered the full array of possible shocks and went with them all - blitzkrieg "shock and awe," elaborate PsyOps, use of fear as a weapon, repressive occupation, mass detention and torture, and "the fastest and most sweeping political and economic shock therapy program attempted anywhere....From the start, the invasion was (Washington's message) to the world....in the language of fireballs, deafening explosions and city-shattering quakes." It said dare challenge US authority, and you're next. Shock and awe planners designed its strategy to deter "the public will of the adversary to resist (to render) the adversary completely impotent" from the effects of sensory deprivation and overload inducing disorientation and regression.

In March, 2003, Baghdad got it on a massive scale. The ministry of communication and four telephone exchanges was blitzed and set ablaze cutting off millions of phones and preventing people from learning if their family and friends were alive. Television and radio transmitters were also destroyed along with the electrical grid plunging the city into "an awful, endless night." Residents were trapped in their homes unable to speak or hear each other or see outside at night. "LIke a prisoner destined for a CIA black site, the entire city was shackled and hooded. Next it was stripped."

Unchecked looting did the most to erase the "country that was....Gone are 80% of the museum's 170,000 priceless objects....the national library is a blackened ruin....the Ministry of Religious Affairs....was left a burned-out shell (and the) national heritage was lost." Paul Bremer's senior economic advisor, Peter McPherson, wasn't bothered. It made his job of radically downsizing the state and selling it off easier. Cleaning the slate and erasing the nation was proceeding fast. It "all unfolded in a matter of weeks." Baghdad was "open for business," and the fire sale for its assets began with US firms having first dibs on everything, except oil, and that would come later as it has now but is stalled.

While he was there, Paul Bremer was Washington's man in Baghdad charged with readying the launch of Iraq, Inc. He saw to it laws were passed smoothing the way for Chicago School shock therapy. Two hundred firms were to be privatized immediately to get "inefficient state enterprises into private (predatory) hands...." New economic laws followed that comprised a "wish list....foreign investors and donor agencies dream of," according to The Economist. The corporate tax was cut from 45% to a flat 15%; another allowed foreign companies to own 100% of Iraqi assets and take all profits out of the country; all restrictions on imports were removed; and investors could sign deals and leases lasting 40 years so no future government could change them.

Iraq became a bold new experiment with invasion, occupation and reconstruction transforming the country into a fully privatized new market "with a huge pot of public money" doing it. Klein called the adventure an "anti-Marshall plan," mirror opposite the post-WW II plan, and guaranteed "to further undermine Iraq's badly weakened industrial sector and send Iraqi unemployment soaring." No funds went to Iraqis or their industries nor was anything done to build a sustainable economy, or rebuild local infrastructure like electrical grids, schools, and hospitals. Iraqis played no role in planning, local firms weren't even given "subsubsubcontracts," jobs were destroyed not created while thousands of serf-type foreign workers were brought in and abused, and critically needed social services were ignored.

Another goal was for a fully outsourced, hollow government with no function so "core" a contractor couldn't handle it for profit. It was pure pillage, but nothing went as planned. "Each miscalculation provoked escalating levels of resistance" with occupying forces responding with counterrepression "sending the country into an inferno of (unending) violence." Everything "tearing Iraq apart today - rampant corruption (and unfettered plundering), ferocious sectarianism, the surge in religious fundamentalism and the tyranny of death squads (including US 'Salvador option' ones) - escalated in lockstep with....Bush's anti-Marshall Plan." In that environment, the country became "a cutthroat capitalist laboratory" for shameless pillage. Iraq today is a model, a metaphor for everything wrong with Chicago School dogma showing it to be savage, ruthless, heartless and bankrupt.

Its implementation is the core reason for resistance that continues and grows, but it caught war planners off guard when it began. They thought the shock and awe of attack, invasion, occupation and rapid transformation on the ground would be disorienting. Instead, Iraqis demanded a say from the start in how their country would be rebuilt and transformed. "And it was the Bush administration's response to this unexpected turn of events that generated the most blowback of all" that became even worse by crushing democracy and effectively installing a puppet government in the fortified Green Zone masquerading as a real one.

The result was predictable and so was the harsh response - mass detentions, aggressive interrogations, administration-sanctioned gloves off torture, and US unleashed "Salvador option" death squads making it hard to know who's doing the killing and blasting away at selected targets. What is clear are the consequences - "millions of psychologically and physically (traumatized, angry and) shattered people, first by Saddam, (then) by war, (then) by one another (and the occupation). Bush's in-house disaster capitalists didn't wipe Iraq clean, they just stirred it up....Countries, like people, don't reboot to zero with a good shock; they just break and keep breaking....Which....requires more blasting - upping the dosage...."

Slowly, it's disappearing, disintegrating, erasing an entire country - women behind veils and doors, children from schools, four million displaced, Iraqi industry collapsed, a new growth industry in kidnapping for ransom, a country so unstable investment is high-risk, and even the heavily fortified Green Zone is too unsafe for George Bush to visit on one of his "surprise trips" to the country. Bremer's charge was to build a "corporate utopia" but instead unleashed a "ghoulish dystopia," and, on an April, 2004 visit to the country, Klein thought she was witnessing a mass contractor exodus with 1500 of them leaving in one week.

Now she's not sure. Big investors like Wal-Mart, HSBC and Procter and Gamble never showed up, and in December, 2006, the Pentagon announced a new project to get state-owned factories operating with plans to buy cement and machinery from them instead of the usual corporate suppliers. Does it signal a change of disaster capitalism tactics? Not at all, and it's likely this amounts to no more than tinkering and tokenism that in the end will do little for the local economy and even less to reduce hardened anger.

The Big Oil drafted Hydrocarbon Law is still a work in progress but already inflamed things further, and well it should. It's an anti-Marshall Plan project at its worst, and in whatever final form is a shameless act of theft on the grandest scale. It's a privatization blueprint for plunder giving Big Oil a bonanza and Iraqis a mere sliver of their own resources. In one draft, Iraq's National Oil Company got exclusive control of just 17 of the country's 80 known oil fields with all yet-to-be-discovered deposits set aside for foreign investors. Even worse, Big Oil is free to expropriate all earnings with no obligation to invest anything in Iraq's economy, partner with Iraqi companies, hire local workers, respect union rights, or share new technologies. In addition, foreign investors are guaranteed long-term contracts up to 30 or more years, dispossessing Iraq and its people of their own resources in a naked scheme to steal them and deny them the one source of revenue able to rebuild their shattered country and lives.

The battle for Iraq continues that involves clinging to if not winning the hearts and minds on the home front as well. The country is a wasteland, the nation creation project bankrupt, and the prospect for success bad and worsening. Iraq has been a graveyard for past imperial powers, and it may just be a matter of time until history again repeats. The Brits in the South know it, and after four and a half futile years are tiptoeing out to the dismay of their "coalition" partners. One day, Washington may join them, and for shocked Iraqis it can't come too soon. For now, though, the shock continues, and Iraq more closely resembles hell than "the cradle of civilization."

Reviewing Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" - Introduction ,
Part 1 - Two Doctor Shocks - Torture and Chicago School Fundamentalism
Part 2 - Chile The First Test - The Bloody Birth of the Counterrevolution
Part 3 - The Shock Doctrine: Surviving Democracy
Part 4 - The Shock Doctrine: Lost in Transition: Slamming the Door on History
Part 5 - The Rise of the Disaster Capitalism Complex - Shock Therapy in the USA

By Stephen Lendman

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached in Chicago at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on TheMicroEffect.com Saturdays at noon US central time.

Stephen Lendman Archive

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