Plunder unmasked in Iraq

The ugly face of imperialism is now in full view with the revelation of the U.S. occupation command’s economic initiatives in Iraq:

• The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) is devastating Iraq’s domestic industry by encouraging imports. By setting only a 5 percent tariff on imported goods, they have allowed U.S. and European consumer goods to flood the market.

• The CPA is advocating that the corporate and personal tax be capped at 15 percent. This extremely low rate will attract foreign corporations to compete against Iraq’s domestic industries, which have been seriously weakened by war and years of sanctions.

• To further entice foreign investment, the CPA is proposing a radical privatization plan that will sell off much of the publicly-owned industry, including cement, fertilizer, sulfur-mining, textile, and automobile enterprises. Iraqi workers already suffer from a 50 to 60 percent unemployment rate. And now, this extreme “shock therapy” privatization scheme threatens the jobs of many of the 500,000 employees from the 200 enterprises that would be affected.

• The CPA proposal permits 100 percent foreign ownership of Iraqi enterprises. It allows total profit-repatriation (that is, it would permit foreign corporations to take every penny of profits out of the country).

These are conditions so shameful they are rarely accepted in other countries.

To legitimize this exploitation-friendly plan, the CPA is attempting to get the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council to approve the measures. The council’s president in October, Ayad Allawi, endorsed the idea, but urged a slower pace.

The U.S. occupiers were careful not to broach the issue of foreign ownership of land or of the politically-sensitive oil industry. Nonetheless, the Iraqi oil ministry – no doubt with the full support of the “colonial office” – has invited 60 foreign oil companies to a Baghdad conference in December to explore “developing” the country’s oil industry. According to the Oct. 3 New York Times, the conference is aimed at companies “hungry for investment opportunities.” This is an apt metaphor for the plunder to come.

It would take a purposeful blindness to miss that the U.S. actions in Iraq are those of an imperialist country, acting solely from imperial motives.

Not human rights, not war against terror, but plain and simple imperialism.

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