'The Corporate Invasion of Iraq'
John M Cox
coxj at email.unc.edu
Mon Jul 14 09:55:48 MDT 2003
International Socialist Review Issue 30, JulyAugust 2003
The corporate invasion of Iraq
by Rania Masri
Deconstruct Iraq into a "free market"
The (current) U.S. viceroy of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, has stated his
intentions very clearly: Iraq is "open for business" (May 26, 2003). A
major goal of the countrys reconstruction, he says, would be to shift Iraq
away from state-dominated economies (May 27, 2003, Chicago Tribune).
Bremer and his bosses in the Pentagon envision a "free market" system in
Iraq. The Chicago Tribune accurately referred to this plan as a
"transformation of the countrys economy." The Tribune also correctly
assessed that "the establishment of a thriving, market-oriented economy in
Iraq has been a key goal of a conservative camp in the Bush administration
that hopes the changes will ripple through the Arab world and challenge
the established order."
Such plans fit in line with Bushs U.S.-Middle East Free Trade Area
proposal, which calls for a market open for Israeli and U.S. hegemony,
thus demanding not only military occupation of Palestinian and Syrian
lands (and the Chebaa Farms of Lebanon), but also economic occupation of
On the ground, the occupation forces are quickly working towards selling
the Iraqi governmental services to private companies. They are quite open
about their plan.
In mid-April, U.S. officials stated that they want the World Bank to
eventually act as the "neutral international body" that will be the
accountant for oil revenues, replacing the United Nations, which had
overseen the oil-for-food program (April 18, 2003, New York Times). The
World Bank is definitely not a "neutral" body; quite the contrary, it has
caused immense impoverishment in its agenda of privatization.2 For
example, as reported by the International Consortium of Investigative
Journalists (ICIJ), "despite World Bank contentions that it does not force
privatization on the poor, research by ICIJ and the bank itself showed
that privatization is playing an ever-increasing role in bank lending
In mid-May, Bremer announced that, within weeks, the Central Bank of Iraq
and a group of private banks would begin providing "substantial" trade
credits to finance the sale of goods to Iraqi ministries, government-owned
factories and private companies. Bremer did not say which "private banks"
would provide these credits, or at what terms the credits would be made.
He did reveal that U.S. and British companies were expected to be among
the first to benefit.
Bremer further revealed that contracts are pending to sell everything from
oilfield technology to transportation services and telecommunications to
Iraqi ministries. The sell-off of Iraqi companies and ministries is to
take place soon. Tim Carney,4 the senior coalition adviser to the Iraqi
ministry of industry and mineralsi.e. the U.S.-appointed ruler of the
Iraqi ministrysaid that dozens of Iraqs state-owned companies could be
earmarked for privatization within a year (June 9, 2003, BBC). Previously,
the U.S. occupying force had said it would wait until an elected Iraqi
government had been appointed before it would start privatization.5
Carneys Iraqi industry ministry controls 48 state-owned enterprises that
employ approximately 96,000 people in eight sectors including food,
textiles, engineering and chemicals. Glass and ceramics firms are to be
privatized within the year. Iraqi textile companies, viewed by the U.S. as
"money-losing firms," would be "dissolved"meaning workers will lose their
jobs. Numerous other Iraqi firms would be sold to foreign companies;
already, the occupying forces have received a "string of inquiries from
overseas companies" (June 12, 2003, Agence France-Presse).
To create an optimum market place for U.S. corporations, U.S. officials
plan to change Iraqi laws. The U.S. administration is working on changing
economic laws and tax rates in Iraq (June 9, 2003, Star Telegram), and, as
the power in charge of imports to and investments in Iraq, the U.S. has
proposed a temporary "holiday" on customs and duties on imported goods
(May 27, 2003, Chicago Tribune)....
Chapel Hill, NC
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