Friday, April 11, 2008
Bremer’s 100 orders
The true scale of Iraq’s rape and destruction
If you’re a US Citizen, ask yourself one important question with reference to Iraq:
Have you ever heard of Bremer’s 100 orders?
If the answer is "no" then you don’t understand the true destruction of Iraq.
But Bremer’s 100 orders destroyed Iraq’s economy not just for years but for decades to come. It undid some historical things dating back ten thousand years. I wish that was an exaggeration, but it’s not.
Iraq is home to the oldest agricultural traditions in the world. Historical, genetic and archaeological evidence, including radiocarbon dating of carbon-containing materials at the site, show that the Fertile Crescent, including modern Iraq, was the center of domestication for a remarkable array of today’s primary agricultural crops and livestock animals. Wheat, barley, rye, lentils, sheep, goats, and pigs were all originally brought under human control around 8000 BCE. Iraq is where wild wheat was once originated and many of its cereal varieties have been exported and adapted worldwide. The beginning of agriculture led inexorably to the development of human civilization.
Since then, the inhabitants of Mesopotamia have used informal seed supply systems to plant crops, suited to their particular environment. The saving and sharing of seeds in Iraq has always been a largely informal matter. Local varieties of grain and legumes have been adapted to local conditions over the millennia. While much has changed in the ensuing millennia, agriculture remains an essential part of Iraq’s heritage. Despite extreme aridity, characterized by low rainfalls and soil salinity, Iraq had a world standard agricultural sector producing good quality food for generations.
According to the Rome-based UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), 97 percent of Iraqi farmers in 2002 still used saved seed from their own stocks from last year’s harvest, or purchased from local markets.
(Source - Global Research)
So the scene is set. In 2002 things have been unchanged for centuries. Why break a system that worked? Then Bremer came along with the answer: We’ll break a system that works for Iraq, because doing so will generate profit for America.
Bremer wasn’t the first choice for the job. In the aftermath of invasion, the Coalition Provisional Authority was originally led by Lt General Jay Garner, who had plans to actually help Iraq by trying to direct the CPA to give control back to Iraqis as soon as possible and hold elections as soon as was practically possible. Alas for Lt General Garner, the Bush administration didn’t want this. Lt General Garner was summarily sacked from the role within a month, and Paul Bremer appointed to the job.
Bremer, under orders from the administration and it’s corporate masters, began systematically destroying any chance the Iraqis had of putting their country back together, in what has since become known as Bremer’s 100 orders. In one hundred orders, Bremer set about the destruction of ten thousand years of working economy in Iraq.
Even now it’s extremely difficult for an interested party reading an article like this to get a straightforward list of all 100 orders and what they do, so for the sake of clarity we will focus on a few of the most destructive orders.
Order No. 39 allows for: (1) privatization of Iraq’s 200 state-owned enterprises; (2) 100% foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses; (3) 'national treatment’ - which means no preferences for local over foreign businesses; (4) unrestricted, tax-free remittance of all profits and other funds; and (5) 40-year ownership licenses", wrote Antonia Juhasz, a project director at the International Forum on Globalization in San Francisco (LATimes, August 05, 2004).
Now one might argue that quite a number of Western states already do things this way, and that wouldn’t be inaccurate. However, Iraq has never done things that way, and neither have any of it’s neighbors. The state ran everything prior to 2002. In combination with the crippling sanctions that had been imposed on the Iraqi people by the United Nations when it was accepting as fact the lies the Bush administration was telling about WMD, this meant that suddenly anyone could buy anything in Iraq, but the Iraqi people who SHOULD have been first on the list were broke, and couldn’t afford to buy anything. So it was all sold to other countries, on 40 year ownership licenses that prevent this damage from being undone until 2042 at the very soonest. With NO requirement to re-invest in Iraq, no tax to pay and very few limits, this opened up the Iraqi economy to completely unfettered competition from foreign investment. The only block to this Republican Utopia was that the Coalition Provisional Authority granted the licenses, which of course they made sure that they punished the countries unwilling to back them in war, and rewarded those that did back them. Since the "Coalition of the Willing" to all intents and purposes only consisted at that time of the US and the UK this meant that the bulk of these 40 year licenses were granted to US companies. In other words, not only could the Iraqi people see a military occupation, but they could also see their commerce being taken over for the next 40 years by a corporate occupation.
From the same article quoted above:
"Order No. 17 grants foreign contractors, including private security firms, full immunity from Iraq’s laws. Even if they, say, kill someone or cause an environmental disaster, the injured party cannot turn to the Iraqi legal system. Rather, the charges must be brought to U.S. courts".
So we not only have foreign companies able to buy all the commerce and 50% of the banks in Iraq, and not being obliged to employ Iraqis to run it, but anyone they DO employ to run it becomes immune from Iraq’s laws, owing to being a foreign contractor. And even worse, they can employ their own armed "private security" - which Blackwater USA were immediately offering as a ’service’ - which is also immune from any kind of prosecution. This led to the situation we’ve seen on YouTube where armored vehicles escorting foreign contractors are driving along Iraq’s streets smashing any Iraqi car that gets in their way to one side. They don’t have to obey the law. It’s a two tier society, and they’re the upper tier. (and yes, I know that video clip starts with an excerpt from the film "Aliens" but that excerpt just shows the mindset of the drivers). In ANY OTHER COUNTRY, America included, NOBODY would be allowed to just ram vehicles out of the way - yet Bremer has allowed that in Iraq, for the next 40 years, and there’s no shortage of Blackwater USA macho Rambo’s prepared to do it.
"Orders No. 57 and No. 77 ensure the implementation of the orders by placing U.S.-appointed auditors and inspector generals in every government ministry, with five-year terms and with sweeping authority over contracts, programs, employees and regulations".
There is to be NO change, and these orders reinforce that. There is to be NO going back to having things run by the Iraqis, for the Iraqis. That’s not the way corporations want things done. Iraq is to be a safe haven for corporations to do whatever the hell they like, when they like, to who they like. And anyone who gets in their way is a terrorist.
Now we come to the worst order of all. Order 81. Again from Global Research:
Order 81 deals specifically with Plant Variety Protection (PVP) because it is designed to protect the commercial interests of corporate seed companies. Its aim is to force Iraqi farmers to plant so-called "protected" crop varieties 'defined as new, distinct uniform and stable’, and most likely genetically modified. This means Iraqi farmers will have one choice; to buy PVP registered seeds. Order 81 opens the way for patenting (ownership) of plant forms, and facilitates the introduction of genetically modified crops or organisms (GMOs) to Iraq. U.S. agricultural biotechnology corporations, such as Monsanto and Syngenta will be the beneficiaries. Iraqi farmers will be forced to buy their seeds from these corporations. GMOs will replace the old tradition of breeding closely related plants, and replace them with organisms composed of DNA from an altogether different species, e.g., bacterium genes into corn. In the long run, there won’t be a big enough gene pool for genetic viability.
It should be noted here that Monsanto have deep connections to the Bush administration. They also create a special genetically modified grain seed that works well with their own brand of pesticide, because part of its genetic modification is an immunity to the toxins in that particular pesticide. Unfortunately, nothing else is immune, and the pesticide ruthlessly poisons ANY other plant life except the genetically modified grain. Also when the pesticide is absorbed into the soil, the fields it was deployed in won’t grow any other crop but the Monsanto GM grain until the pesticide’s effects diminish - by which time anyone trying to reverse the usage of Monsanto products would long since have gone bankrupt.
If a large international corporation developed a seed variety resistant to a particular Iraqi pest, and an Iraqi farmer was growing another variety that did the same, it was illegal for the farmer to save his own seed. Instead, he is obliged to pay a royalty fee for using Monsanto’s GMO seed.
Upon purchasing the patented seeds, farmers must sign the company’s technology agreement (Technology User Agreements). This agreement allows the company to control farmers’ practices and conduct property investigation. The farmer becomes the slave of the company.
Order 81 ignores Iraqi farmers’ old traditions of saving seeds, and using their knowledge to breed and plant their crops. It also brutally disregards the contributions which Iraqi farmers have made over hundreds of generations to the development of important crops like wheat, barley, dates and pulses. If anybody owns those varieties and their unique virtues, it is the families who bred them, even though nobody has described or characterized them in terms of their genetic makeup. If anything, the new law — in allowing old varieties to be genetically manipulated or otherwise modified and then "registered" — involves the theft of inherited intellectual property, the loss of farmers’ freedoms, and the destruction of food sovereignty in Iraq.
Like U.S. farmers, Iraqi farmers will be "harassed for doing what they have always done." For example, Iraqi farmers can be sued by Monsanto, if their non-GMO crops are polluted by GMO crops planted in their vicinity. The health and environmental consequences of GMO crops are still unknown. GMO-based agriculture definitely encourages monoculture and genetic pollution. Moreover, this will further increase the already polluted Iraqi environment as a result of tens of thousands of tons of 'depleted’ uranium dust, napalm, chemical weapons, and phosphorous bombs.
Farmers will also be required to buy fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides, against plants disease. Iraqi farmers will be required to pay royalties for the new seeds and they will be forbidden from saving seeds. In other words, Iraqi farmers will become agricultural producers for export, a recipe for the introduction of hunger in Iraq, not unknown in many developing countries.
Evidence shows that Western "bio-prospectors" have been using indigenous genetic material taken from their traditional owners. It is this kind of looting or "biopiracy" that is contributing to the destruction of farmers in the developing world, because they have lost control of what they sow, grow, reap and eat.
(Source: Seeds of Destruction)
When you consider the destruction done to Iraq by Bremer’s 100 orders you start to see why the unemployed, angry, penniless Iraqi people are so upset at the occupation. You start to see why when someone like Sadr comes along and promises a return to old values, that’s so tempting. You can see why Maliki absolutely HAS to stop other parties that might run on a "get the occupier out" ticket from competing against him in elections. In researching this article I alternated between tears and anger at what I was finding.
Before I close - this shameful state of affairs, although instituted by the Bush administration, was tacitly condoned by the ENTIRE REST OF THE WORLD who have just stood by and let this happen without objection. They share the blame. They share the responsibillity. What has happened to Iraq is not the fault of one nation, but the fault of a failing of nations and nobody should point fingers at other people without accepting some of the blame themselves. How this blatant illegal occupation has been allowed to rape and destroy a nation is a thing that everyone, everywhere should be disgusted about.
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