The Myth of Iraqi Sovereignty

By Andy Mager
Friday, June 25, 2004

George W. Bush continues to proclaim that Iraq will be a sovereign nation as of June 30, 2004. He hopes that continuous repetition of this false mantra will fool our nation into believing that democracy is emerging in Iraq.

Unfortunately, most mainstream media parrot this lie, and its corollary that the U.S. Occupation of Iraq has ended. Despite this "transformation," there is little reason to believe that the coming months will see fewer U.S. soldiers killed or maimed in Iraq, any significant improvement in daily living conditions for ordinary Iraqis or a more democratic Iraq.

Sovereignty: a) supreme power especially over a body politic, b) freedom from external control: AUTONOMY (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary).

Any reasonable assessment of the situation in Iraq would show that the interim Iraqi government will not have sovereignty after June 30.

Who Controls the Military?
138,000 U.S. and over 20,000 "coalition" troops will remain in Iraq, outside of the control of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Interim Government. Colin Powell has acknowledged that these troops will not take their orders from the Iraqis. The June 9 UN Security Council resolution emphasizes "that the presence of the multinational force in Iraq is at the request of the incoming Interim Government of Iraq." However, that Iraqi "government" was selected by the Bush administration. Ever hear of biting the hand that feeds you?

How can Iraq be sovereign when the U.S. military remains the dominant military power, and has "the authority to take all necessary measures" (Article 10 of the Security Council resolution)?

Who Controls the Government?
The UN resolution specifically prohibits the "Interim Government of Iraq" from "taking any actions affecting Iraq's destiny beyond the limited interim period until an elected Transitional Government of Iraq assumes office (by 31 December 2005)." No such restrictions were placed on the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).

As head of the U.S. occupation, Paul Bremer enacted 97 orders and 14 memoranda, many of which replaced previous Iraqi laws and established a new framework for the country. The "sovereign" Iraqi Government is prohibited from reversing or undoing these major decisions imposed by the U.S. occupation. These orders made such fundamental changes as: privatizing Iraqi resources, opening up Iraq's economy to foreign ownership, denying full press freedom, allowing foreign corporations to control the reconstruction process and establishing several independent regulators (which will drastically reduce the power of Iraqi government ministries).

The Bush administration hopes that by prolonging the changes it has enacted, it will be more difficult for a truly sovereign Iraqi government to change them. But it won't rely on hopes alone-the massive U.S. military force (expected to remain in Iraq for years to come) will be backed by the largest U.S. embassy in the world. Could embassy simply be the new name for the occupation authority?

Who Controls the Oil?
Despite continued assertions that the Iraqi people will control their own resources, extravagant last minute spending by the CPA and language in the UN Security Council resolution limit the interim government's ability to exercise meaningful control over Iraq's oil revenues. A report by Iraq Revenue Watch notes that these expenditures "will have serious consequences for the ability of the interim government and the subsequent elected government …to choose how to spend their money." The UN resolution binds the new government to make good on all CPA contracts.

Meanwhile, the International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB), a UN agency established to monitor the Development Fund for Iraq, has strongly criticized the CPA's management of Iraq's oil revenues. Among its findings: the CPA has yet to award contracts for equipment to meter Iraq 's oil production, leaving a door open to smuggling. In addition, an audit of the CPA isn't due until two weeks after the authority closes up shop and has been delayed by "resistance" from CPA staff.

Who Tells Us the Truth?
The people of our nation were led into war through a series of lies and distortions. When the truth about the killing and torture of Iraqi prisoners came to light we were assured that it is the result of a few "bad soldiers." Meanwhile, documents demonstrate that decisions which inevitably led to such abuse were approved at the highest levels of the Bush administration. The continuation of the occupation under the guise of "sovereignty" is only the latest fabrication.

If the people of the United States really believe in democracy, as we believe they do, then we must confront this latest outrage. Join fellow Central New Yorkers to challenge the "Myth of Iraqi Sovereignty" at 5:30 pm at Clinton Square in downtown Syracuse on Wednesday, June 30.

Andy Mager is on the staff of the Syracuse Peace Council. This statement reflects the Peace Council's organizational position on this issue.

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