Friday, 12 March 2010

Operation Iraq Liberation (O.I.L.)

Remember the mystery of General Jay Garner, appointed Governor of Iraq in April 2003 and replaced by Bremer a few weeks later? Well I have at last seen the explanation, given in Armed Madhouse by investigative journalist extraordinary, Greg Palast. The problem was not that America had no plan for post-invasion Iraq but that they had two. Plan A, favoured by the State Department and Big Oil, was for immediate elections and quick withdrawal, leaving the Iraqi economy and administration intact. Plan B, coming from the neo-cons and the Pentagon, was to do a 'Pinochet', sell off all state assets, especially oil, to international corporations, and only then have elections. Jay Garner was sent to execute Plan A, then removed by the proponents of Plan B.

Plan B was in fact lunacy, and Bremer more than anyone else was responsible for setting off first insurrection, then civil war. In a year of decrees, binding on all subsequent governments of Iraq, he demobilized the army, sending all the soldiers home with their weapons, destroyed the civil service by sacking all Baath Party members, ruined the economy by selling much of it off to foreigners and by removing all protective tariffs and quotas, and offended both Sunni and Shia communities.

George W. of course snoozed through all this, and there is no evidence that he understood at any point what was going on. It was left to Cheney to direct the response from the White House, and he was in favour of parts of both plans; as an oil man he wanted the oil policy of Plan A, but as a neo-con he wanted the Pinochet part of Plan B. In the end it was Big Oil and James Baker III who decided what should be done with the oil: keep it together as a state asset, firmly under the control of American 'advisers' who would hold production down to enable Saudi Arabia to keep OPEC prices up, to the benefit of the international oil corporations.

As for General Garner, the story was put about that he was sacked because he was incompetent. In fact he had long experience of Iraq, was popular with the Kurds and Shiites and was sympathetic to the Sunnis. He was probably better fitted than any other American to steer Iraq quickly to a peaceful and prosperous solution. But then of course, the interests of the Iraqis were of no consequence in Washington or Texas. The only Arabs who counted were the Saudi princes.

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