The Illusion of Iraqi Democracy

First let me say it gave me butterflies watching the Iraqi election unfold. I think that Americans have something deep in our genetic make-up that makes us go “Old Yeller” whenever a democratic election is held. This trait likely exists on the same chromosome that carries the trait which makes one involuntarily hoot an holler at the word free (O’er the land of the free…) during the singing of The Star Spangled Banner. With that said, I am not convinced that the Iraqi election was all the administration has cracked it up to be.

On CSPAN’s Washington Journal yesterday the topic of discussion was the following question: “Was the election in Iraq the tipping point for Democracy in the Middle East?” As I listened to the callers try to reason their way around this one I noticed that one thing was missing from this equation. All of the callers were operating under the false assumption that these elections were actually handing full control of Iraq back to the people.

Now I am not arguing about whether we are still and occupier or not, we can discuss that some other time, what I am saying is that regardless of how legitimate the actual election was it does nothing toward giving control of Iraq back to the people. Why? Specifically because of the list of orders or edicts implemented by L. Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority prior to his hasty retreat from the Green Zone.

Let me give you two examples of why I think this is so. First, as the International Forum on Globalization duly notes, Order #39 (PDF), amended by Order #46 (PDF), the order on foreign investment, has five significant elements,

(1) Privatization of state-owned enterprises; (2) 100% foreign ownership of businesses in all sectors except oil and mineral extraction, banks and insurance companies (the latter two are addressed in a separate order); (3) “national treatment” of foreign firms; (4) unrestricted, tax-free remittance of all funds associated with the investment, including, but not limited to, profits; and (5) 40 year ownership licenses which have the option of being renewed.

Second, Order #81 (PDF) Iraq’s intellectual property law effectively signs all intellectual property rights in Iraq over to U.S. Corporations. Case in point, the recently uncovered fact that this new law prohibits Iraqi farmers from saving their seeds. ”

Farmers shall be prohibited from re-using seeds of protected varieties or any variety mentioned in items 1 and 2 of paragraph [C] of Article 14 of this chapter.”

The purpose of this order is to ensure that Corporations such as Monsanto have free reign to sell and re-sell all the seed needed to feed the Iraqi population. Note that every year,

“the Iraqis must destroy any seed they have, and repurchase seeds from an authorized supplier, or face fines, penalties and/or jail time.”

I can go on but the facts are clear in my mind, Bremer made certain that regardless of who wins control of the Iraqi assembly, real controlling interest lies with U.S. Corporations. So to answer the CSPAN question,NO, the election represents the tipping point for the illusion of democracy in Iraq and nothing more. For a more detailed review I suggest you read the following article by Naomi Klein which describes this little Neocon scam.

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