If you were too busy to check the news on this particularly lovely June day, you may have overlooked that Iraq’s interim government was sworn in after the occupying army of the United States “returned sovereignty” two days “ahead of schedule” (or if you prefer: 457 days overdue).
The new interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi (chosen by the United States, but we’re not supposed to talk about that) was given a leather-bound transfer document that gave him his country back. To make certain this was worthy of the 6 o’clock news, a suit-clad ‘civilian’ Bremmer stood next to, smiled at, and shook hands with the Iraqi men who would soon police Iraq on his behalf.
The images brought tears to my eyes and renewed all hope for a free and sovereign Iraq.
Or maybe not.
By definition, she who possesses sovereignty is she who has the full capacity to govern herself, and is independent of, and unlimited by, any other. As many of us have already guessed, Iraq is not lucky enough to possess any form of sovereignty and so the statement that the US “returned sovereignty” to Iraq is void of meaning.
Recall that a little over a month ago (on May 24th), Bush gave a speech during which he outlined both his immediate and long-term plans for the illegal American invasion and occupation of Iraq. At that time, and if one paid close attention, it became painfully clear that Iraq’s government (interim or otherwise) would not be allowed to overturn any of the coalition forces’ military decisions. Furthermore, the presence of over 140,000 foreign troops would remain, and would not report to or serve under that ‘sovereign’ nation’s command. Finally, the new Iraqi government, the same one who would be crowned ‘sovereign’ would not possess the capacity to create new legislation or discuss, address, change, and/or decide on either economic privatization laws or security laws.
And so what happens when a State is afforded –” via the occupying army, and to a select handful of the chosen people — the faÃ§ade of sovereignty but no means to pursue or achieve that sovereignty to any end of its meaningful definitions?
We’re back to ‘Us’ and ‘Them’
When asked why the two day jump in hand-over, an Iraqi official said Allawi requested it because he was ready to crack down on violence. Allawi pushed that “We will not forget who stood by and against us,” his interim government believing that their security forces could “win public confidence by tackling terrorism and organized crime,” urging all Iraqis to unite against "foreign terrorists who are killing [their] children and destroying [their] country".
Even British Prime Minister Tony Blair reinforced this sentiment by saying this early hand-over was an attempt to "seize the initiative" over insurgents. But, as usual, no one defined anything and no one acknowledged the reality of the situation as it unfolds on Iraqi territory and affects the regular Iraqi civilian incapable of feeding her family. Just whose “public confidence” is Allawi going to win? Better yet, which qualitative measures are Allawi’s “We” going to use to keep track of who stood by them and who was against them? And who constitute the cryptic “We” and the even more cryptic “foreign terrorists”? Is it the Iraqi civilian population? The Iraqi ruling body? The American Military? The Coalition Forces in their entirety? The Shiites? The Sunnis? The prison guards at Abu Ghraib?
The “terrorists” to which Allawi so quickly points became an issue only after America attacked and occupied Iraq. Contrary to what Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari would have you believe, the problem has never centered around a “very deadly terrorist network operating” in Iraq, but rather a US-allied dictatorship. During that particular reign of horror, the problem was further compounded by the US-led sanctions that brutalized the Iraqi people but didn’t come close to providing the dictator with so much as a paper-cut. Now the problem is rooted in an illegal attack on and occupation of the country by the US-led coalition. The common denominator is obvious, but these truisms seem to have fallen by the wayside for many, most especially the interim government.
Allawi has been appointed and afforded a comic sense of ‘sovereignty’ by the same US-led coalition that the “terrorists” recognize as the source of pain, the very same people they are attacking. Couple this with the reality that the Americans are not leaving Iraq, and you are looking at a tunnel of violence that has no end (least of all, democracy and freedom). All this to say it is near impossible to deviate much from the obvious and sad conclusion that the new interim government is in fact ‘in cahoots’ with the US-led Coalition Forces.
Welcome to the latest installment of ‘Mid East Police State’
There has been no lip-service afforded democracy, meaningful sovereignty, justice, economic infrastructure, social welfare, monetary aide, malnutrition, water supply, etc. There was no reference to the crippling economic sanctions imposed on the Iraqi population since the first Gulf War, a complete blackout of what has been happening since March 20th of 2003. Since the handover of Iraq, the focus has been purely security-based, raising a warning to those who remain adamant that neither American-led forces remain in Iraq, nor an American chosen ‘interim government’ rule their people.
The new Iraqi government is doing two things: (1) Employing cognitive dissonance to make the necessary Iraq-to-Al-Qaeda link, alluding to the fact that the “foreign terrorists” are really none other than Bin Laden, his sidekicks and the Iraqi civilians who have bought into the propaganda of fundamentalism; and, (2) Threatening to use any and all means available at their disposal (yesterday, moments after receiving power, Allawi threatened collective punishment against the Iraqi people).
The primary concern of this interim government does not (can not) extend beyond the sustenance of the very people and power that placed them in office; they will take down all of Iraq to make certain they fulfill the needs of their puppeteers. Coming full-circle, what we witnessed yesterday was the replacement of one dictator with several. No doubt, the new Iraqi security forces –” probably a police body, but nothing stronger –” will be taught all of the necessary coercive measures and torture tactics the Americans have to teach when it comes to controlling all facets of a popular uprising. I hear that the School of the Americas (with its name change) has sent funky Power Point presentations with Reagan’s former mastermind of U.S. terror in Central America, John Negroponte.
The missing link
But what is altogether more dangerous than this is that up until today, the news coverage had explained that insurgents were “opposed to peace”, were “attacking coalition forces” or were “battling US-forces”. Now though, North American news coverage is informing us that the insurgents are “trying to topple the government,” the consequences of which means that:
1. The “US-forces” are replaced by “the interim government”, and
2. Allawi’s “We” made interchangeable with “the interim government”.
Notice who’s missing? This new spin ultimately allows the US-forces to slip out of the picture entirely. You are actually watching history being rewritten. If the consequences weren’t so far reaching, this would make for an excellent exercise in sociological analysis as defined by the manipulation of audience interpellation.
As slowly and as certainly as the catalysts for violence in Afghanistan, Bosnia, the occupied Palestinian territories, in Chechnya, and in South America have been forgotten or set aside in the past, so too will the American-led occupation and devastation of Iraq be spun so far away from reality that our children will be left as confused as some Britons and many Americans.
Let me take a moment to define slip out of the picture entirely, for I mean it only with respect to the eyes of the audience, but not with regards the140,000+ foreign military presence to remain on Iraqi soil. The Coalition boys and girls will continue to be attacked, one too many of them will probably die an unnecessary death in Iraq; all the while, the public relations campaign for the American-led Coalition Forces starts to look up and that’s all that matters because we are smart enough to know that a war is won by the media coverage, and not by the body count.
Didn’t you see the photos of the giggly and jolly Iraqi man “governing” his own country?
You know Bremmer was the face of the American-led Coalition in Iraq?
The face of America’s occupation of Iraq?
Didn’t you see the photos of Bremmer leaving Iraq?
The face of the occupation left!
But only after he shook hands with and smiled at the new Iraqi interim government.
Bremmer is gone.
America is gone.
It’s that simple, and many audience members are just that stupid.