back to front - lord of the lies


It is now three-and-a-half years since Bush promised to get "the people who knocked these buildings down". Instead, he and Blair attacked Iraq, the one Middle Eastern country where there was no al Qaeda.

What does occupying Iraq mean? It means 40,000 prisoners, widespread abuse, torture, atrocities, beatings, humiliation, intimidation, killings, death squads, house searches, raids, demolitions. It means no jobs, no water, no electricity, no rebuilding, and no security. It means power plants, telephone exchanges, hospitals, schools, sewage and sanitation systems all still in ruins. The only new buildings are 12, supposedly permanent, US military bases.

The US government pledged $18.4 billion to rebuild Iraq, but any money goes straight through to US firms like Halliburton, which gets $1 billion every month, saving it from bankruptcy. (Its chief executive, now Vice President Dick Cheney, bought Dresser Industries for $7.7 billion, without noticing that it owed billions in damages.) Kellogg, Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, got $2.3 billion in contracts.

Bechtel got $1.8 billion to rebuild Iraq's water, sewage and electricity systems. Both Halliburton and Bechtel have been fined for corrupt practices. Another US firm got $780 million, despite convictions for fraud on three federal projects and a legal ban on getting US government work. The longer the occupation goes on, the worse it becomes, the smaller the coalition gets, and the larger the resistance grows.

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld publicly promises a swift victory, but privately says that the USA is in for a "long, hard slog" in Iraq, as in Afghanistan. Cheney said in April 1991, "I think to have American military forces engaged in a civil war inside Iraq would fit the definition of quagmire."

New Labour? New world order? No, it's an old story. T. E. Lawrence wrote at the end of the First World War, "We were casting them [British soldiers] by thousands into the fire to the worst of deaths, not to win the war but that the corn and rice and oil of Mesopotamia [Iraq] might be ours."

He also wrote, "The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiqués are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse that we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows."

Imperialism does not change.

We should be demanding that the troops are withdrawn, to let the people of Iraq run their country in the way that they want to. Imposing foreign rule is not democratic, but despotic.