Saturday, August 09, 2003

Everything's for sale, including Iraq. 

So the Bush administration believes that privatizing Iraq is the "answer". It looks as though they are headed into another minefield. Privatization means higher prices, and decisions made not for the good of the people, but for the maximization of profits.

Thomas C. Foley, has been appointed by Bush to help "resucitate the private sector" of the Iraqi economy. Translation: privatize.

Foley is a fund raiser for Bush, to the tune of $100,000:

Foley is chairman and founder of the NTC Group, a private equity investment company. He was chairman of Bush's Connecticut campaign finance committee in 2000, after raising more than $100,000 for his college friend.

I suppose $100,000 thou is small change compared to the $46 million he's raised so far.

Now is the time to post a link to an article by Naomi Klein, on the U.S.'s destruction and devastation of Iraq's public sector, just in time for privatization:

Downsizing in Disguise
Why is Paul Bremer Hacking Away So Viciously at Iraq's Public Sector?

by Naomi Klein

The streets of Baghdad are a swamp of crime and uncollected garbage. Battered local businesses are going bankrupt, unable to compete with cheap imports. Unemployment is soaring and thousands of laid-off state workers are protesting in the streets.

In other words, Iraq looks like every other country that has undergone rapid-fire "structural adjustments" prescribed by Washington, from Russia's infamous "shock therapy" in the early 1990s to Argentina's disastrous "surgery without anesthetic." Except that Iraq's "reconstruction" makes those wrenching reforms look like spa treatments.

Paul Bremer, the US-appointed governor of Iraq, has already proved something of a flop in the democracy department in his few weeks there, nixing plans for Iraqis to select their own interim government in favor of his own handpicked team of advisers. But Bremer has proved to have something of a gift when it comes to rolling out the red carpet for US multinationals.

For a few weeks Bremer has been hacking away at Iraq's public sector like former Sunbeam exec "Chainsaw" Al Dunlap in a flak jacket. On May 16 Bremer banned up to 30,000 senior Baath Party officials from government jobs. A week later, he dissolved the army and the information ministry, putting more than 400,000 Iraqis out of work without pensions or re-employment programs.

Of course, if Saddam Hussein's henchmen and propagandists held on to power in Iraq it would be a human rights disaster. "De-Baathification," as the purging of party officials has come to be called, may be the only way to prevent a comeback by Saddam's crew--and the only silver lining of George Bush's illegal war.

But Bremer has gone far beyond purging powerful Baath loyalists and moved into a full-scale assault on the state itself. Doctors who joined the party as children and have no love for Saddam face dismissal, while low-level civil servants with no ties to the party have been fired en masse. Nuha Najeeb, who ran a Baghdad printing house, told Reuters, "I...had nothing to do with Saddam's media, so why am I sacked?"

As the Bush Administration becomes increasingly open about its plans to privatize Iraq's state industries and parts of the government, Bremer's de-Baathification takes on new meaning. Is he working only to get rid of Baath Party members, or is he also working to shrink the public sector as a whole so that hospitals, schools and even the army are primed for privatization by US firms? Just as reconstruction is the guise for privatization, de-Baathification looks a lot like disguised downsizing.