This Is What Neo-Imperialism Looks Like
Iraq has been "liberated," so they can do whatever they want as long as it's what we want
Last June 30, the Iraqi newspaper Al-Mada published the latest draft of the Iraqi constitution that was then being negotiated by Iraqi politicians. Its contents would have been enough to give former occupation authority chief Paul Bremer a heart attack.
The Iraqis - even those who were willing to cooperate with the United States - wanted, at least on paper, to build a Scandinavian-type welfare system in the Arabian desert, with Iraq’s vast oil wealth to be spent on upholding every Iraqi’s right to education, health care, housing, and other social services. “Social justice is the basis of building society,” the draft declared. All of Iraq’s natural resources would be owned collectively by the Iraqi people. Everyone would have the right to work and the state would be legally bound to provide employment opportunities to everyone. The state would be the Iraqi people’s collective instrument for achieving development.
In other words, the Iraqis wanted a country different from that for which the Americans had come to Iraq.
As direct occupiers, the US enacted laws that give foreign investors equal rights with Iraqis in the domestic market; permit the full repatriation of profits; institute the flat tax system; abolish tariffs; enforce a strict intellectual property rights regime; sell off a whole-range of state-owned companies; reduce food and fuel subsidies; and privatize all kinds of social services such as health, education and water delivery.
By the time the next version was leaked in late July, the progressive provisions in the draft constitution had disappeared.
I am somehow reminded of a scene from Terry Pratchett's Pyramids,
in which the king's handmaiden refuses to drink poison when the king dies--doing so is customary, but is not mandatory. The high priest still wants to have her thrown to the crocodiles, but the new king doesn't understand why:
"It is customary for a dead king to take servants with him into the Netherworlds, sire."
"Yes, but it's not compulsory."
"Yes, sire, it is not compulsory."
"What exactly has she done wrong, then?"
"She has refused to take the potion, sire."
"Sorry. I thought you said it wasn't compulsory."
"Yes, sire. It is not, sire. It is entirely voluntary. It is an act of free will. And she has refused it, sire."