Investigative Reporter Greg Palast Talks about Oil, Assets and the Real Meaning of “Iraqi Liberation”
by Liam Scheff
LA Citybeat August, 2003
“You’re not happy with the Bush administration?” asks investigative reporter Greg Palast. “But we now have freedom – We now have a free and democratic Iraq!”
“We know this because President Bush has chosen their leaders for them, and he’d only choose the most democratic sort of people who’ll give them just what they want…”
“Besides,” says Palast, “the Iraqis don’t need an election. If we didn’t need one in Florida, they sure as hell don’t need one in Baghdad.”
Greg Palast is the daring reporter whose specialty is examining the broken laws and bones left in the wake of the Bush family as it bulldozes through the world.
In his remarkable 2003 book, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Palast unearthed over 90,000 stolen votes in the officially stolen 2000 Florida election, he revealed the joint holdings of the Bush and bin Laden families, and showed us where the bodies were buried – literally – in a Tanzanian gold mine that was one of Papa Bush’s side projects.
Now he’s exposing the US Government’s plan for Iraq, as elucidated in an official State Department Document.
I spoke with Palast about elections, oil and economic imperialism in the new 51st state.
I understand that you’ve come into possession of a State Department document which outlines the future of Iraq.
I have come into possession of an official, 101-page State Department document which details exactly who owns what in Iraq and outlines the plan to sell off every single Iraqi state enterprise
All assets are going to be liquidated – monetary, natural resources and industry. But most important are the oil fields.
I don’t know if we went into Iraq for oil – but this document makes it clear that we’re not leaving without it.
Are you saying that this was an economic war?
There are two wars here. The first was to get rid of Saddam Hussein – and that’s done. So unless I’m mistaken, Mr. President, the war’s over. So why aren’t US troops coming home?
The answer is that there’s a second war that we’re not being told about.
What’s the second war about?
We’ve conquered the Iraqi army and government, but we haven’t conquered their economy. We have yet to conquer the oil fields. This document makes it clear that that’s why we’re still there.
What about plans to bring democracy to Iraq?
Nowhere in the 101-page document are there plans for democratic elections. There’s a simple reason for this – no democratically-elected Iraqi government would approve of the sell-off of the country’s resources by and for the world’s power brokers.
The State Department document specifically talks about rewriting the country’s laws, trade laws and regulations and filling out World Trade Organization applications for Iraq. It clearly outlines plans to privatize the oil fields and to take account of all resources for the purpose of sale.
You’re saying the US government is making plans for Iraq’s resources without the consent of the Iraqi people?
That’s right. And I thought that selling Iraq’s resources was up to the government of Iraq! You can’t legally sell off a country’s resources unless you are the government of that country.
This document clearly assumes that George Bush is the president of Iraq, and can tell them what to do with their property and their laws – and that Paul Bremer (the presidentially-appointed military viceroy for the occupation of Iraq and Henry Kissinger’s old business partner at Kissinger’s “global consulting firm.”) is, by himself, the entire Iraqi legislature.
What happened to Jay Garner, the ex-general who was overseeing the transition?
Garner was fired because he called for elections within 90 days of the occupation.
There’s this false idea that we can’t turn the government over to the people. But there’s absolutely no reason – none, zero – that we cannot give Iraq back to the Iraqis.
The citizens of Iraq are among the most highly educated people on the planet. They have high tech, oil and banking industries. They are an established, high-functioning society. They have oil and infrastructure and their own water supply. These aren’t savages who need our guidance. Remember, when Exxon needs an oil expert, they hire one from Iraq.
They don’t need us to manage their resources for them. We’re not doing these guys a favor. This is an armed corporate takeover and a massive liquidation of Iraqi assets by the US government.
What are some of the specific measures called for in the document?
Everything that’s happening is for the purpose of selling assets – making sure debts are paid, targeting enterprises for immediate divestiture to assist with liquidation, accounting of all enterprises for the purpose of sale.
When is this happening?
Now. It’s all on a timetable and scheduled for the first three months of occupation. It’s happening now, as we speak.
There’s no timetable in the document for instituting democratic elections, but there’s timetable for the liquidation of Iraqi assets?
That’s correct. Under the heading “Comprehensive Privatization Plan” is the list:
60 days – finalize inventory of companies
120 days – finalize data on companies
180 days – finalize preparation, agreement, financing and information and publicity campaign
240 days – preparation of all secondary trading
We’re up to 240 days without any mention of an election?
Right – again, you couldn’t have an election with plans like these, because the people of Iraq would never support a plan to liquidate the country’s assets.
We were told that the war would bring democracy to Iraq, but this plan sounds like old-fashioned imperialism.
It’s like the old British Empire bringing Christianity and civilization to the “dark people,” but the whole purpose here is economic governance. Here’s a key title from the document:
“Economic governance for new and restructured government in Iraq that the US judges/intends fully to implement the sound macroeconomic structural policy framework that will support the economic restructuring, recovery, governmental transition to a sustainable, market-driven economic system.”
In other words, the US will decide what the Iraqi government will be and how its economy will function. A “market-driven economic system” means one thing – putting the oil into private industry, not governmental control.
Iraq’s primary industry is oil, and the second largest is banking. A nation with that much oil has a lot of money going through banks. This too will be privatized – put into corporate, not Iraqi, control.
So instead of being democratically run, Iraq will be run by corporations. That sounds very much like the US.
One of the most interesting things is that the World Economic Forum (WEF) is guiding the transition, not the World Bank.
What’s the difference between the World Bank and the World Economic Forum?
The World Bank is evil enough – a real Darth Vader on the international scene. But behind every figurehead, there’s always a group of truly evil guys.
That’s the WEF?
The World Economic Forum is a group of powerful, international corporations.
The World Bank is just a middleman. It’s an official government body – a tool of the corporations, but still officially impartial. It’s used to make these transactions less odious on the world stage.
But the WEF is the corporations themselves. It’s not a middleman. It’s the powerbrokers.
Paul Bremer set up a special meeting of the WEF that took place in Jordan from June 21 to 23 for the specific purpose of reorganizing the Iraqi economy.
By cutting out the middle man – the World Bank – they’ve made it perfectly clear that their sole purpose in Iraq is plunder.
In their own words the WEF is “A unique, member-based institution comprised of the 1,000 foremost corporations worldwide.” WEF members include British Petroleum, Boeing, Cisco Systems, Coca-Cola, IBM, Merck, Merrill Lynch, Microsoft, PepsiCo and Pfizer, to name a few. And that’s precisely who’s running Iraq.
At least when the old the British Empire brought back its colonial spoils, it put the gold and jewels on display for public amusement. You have to ask, what are we getting? What are we getting out of the plunder of Iraq?
What are we getting?
Well, I’ll tell you – they’re getting the gold mine – and we’re getting the shaft.