Friday, September 11, 2009

Yes, Iraqis Remember 9/11

Iraqis mourned with Americans on September 11, 2001. It wasn't long, however, before their tyrannical ruler was targeted as a possessor of weapons of mass destruction along with the intent to use them on America. When it was later proven beyond doubt that Saddam Hussein never had either such payload or such intent, it was too late for the Iraqi people. During our mid-stream mission change of bringing them "democracy", we have brought far more death, dismemberment, and destruction than liberty. Yes, Iraqis remember 9/11. It is still tearing their country apart.

When I got to Kuwait in June of 2005, I was surprised that all of the Iraqi and Kuwaiti workers on my transition base couldn't understand very much of my limited Arabic speaking ability. It turns out they were Indians, Pakistanis, Philippinos, etc.

When I got to my combat base in Iraq, the only three Iraqis workers I ever met there were translators who went with the brigade and battalion commanders, or with combat patrols as necessary. The rest of the workers were Indians, Pakistanis, Phillipinos, etc.

It was not until 2 weeks ago, after having been home from Iraq for more than three years, that I discovered that this wasn't just the norm on military bases in Iraq. Not only did we occupy their country on false pretenses, disband their military, and fire all of their government employees, we also (except in rare circumstances) didn't provide reconstruction jobs to any of the Iraqi people whose country we were occupying.

No wonder they hate us.

In her book, "The Shock Doctrine", Naomi Klein details what additional shock and awe U.S. uber-fuhrer Paul Bremer dispensed once the aerial bombardment was complete.
Before the invasion, Iraq's economy had been anchored by its national oil company and by two hundred state owned companies. The month after he arrived in his new job, Bremer announced that the two hundred firms would be privatized immediately. Bremer enacted a radical set of laws [one of which] allowed foreign companies to own 100 percent of Iraqi assets...

The Shock Doctrine, p. 436
Iraqi advisers warned in advance that these actions would be seen as acts of war. You probably already know at least that much of the history that happened next.

But it gets worse.

Of the billions of dollars sent by the Bush Administration designated as reconstruction money--at least not the significant portion that was stolen outright by American contractors--almost none of it went toward contracts with Iraqi construction companies or to pay Iraqi workers, due to the fact that very few were allowed to participate. Klein says:
Even Iraqis' low-wage labor wasn't required for the assembly process because the major U.S. contractors...preferred to import foreign workers whom they felt confident they could control. Once again Iraqis were cast in the role of awed spectators...

Iraq once had one of the most sophisticated industrial economies in the region; now its largest firms couldn't even get a subsubsubcontract in their own country's reconstruction.

...cement factories were perfectly positioned both to supply the reconstruction effort with building materials and to put tens of thousands of Iraqis to work. The factories received nothing--no contracts, no generators, no help. American companies preferred to import their cement, like their workforce, from abroad, at up to ten times the price.

The Shock Doctrine, pp. 439, 441-442
Despite the ignominy of American occupation, sectarian violence and violence against the military was almost unknown for at least the first year that we were there.
Did you ever wonder where all of the insurgents came from? Well, now you know. Klein says:
In fact, all the forces tearing Iraq apart today--rampant corruption, ferocious sectarianism, the surge in religious fundamentalism, and the tyranny of death squads--escalated in lockstep with the implementation of Bush's anti-Marshall plan. After the toppling of Saddam Hussein, Iraq badly needed and deserved to be repaired and reunited, a process that could only have been led by Iraqis. Instead, at that moment, the country was transformed into a cutthroat capitalist laboratory--a system that pitted individuals and communities against each other... It was a very capitalist disaster, a nightmare of unfettered greed unleashed in the wake of war.

The Shock Doctrine, 443-444
Why can't we just leave these people alone? Are they better off now than they were under Saddam? A friend of mine asked me today if we were going to leave Iraq in a bigger mess than we found it. Yes, it seems like we will.

How much longer are Americans going to believe the Bush Administration lie that our overarching goal was to bring democracy to the Iraqi people?

The Iraqis wish that 9/11 had never happened--but for very different reasons than most Americans do.