Naomi Klein, she of No Logo fame, has an interesting article in this month’s Nation entitled Privatization in Disguise, outlining the rapid-fire manner in which Iraq’s assets are being lined up for sale on the world market. The administration and their neocon supporters are already making mouth noises about the privatization of Iraq’s oil supplies to finance the rebuilding. Other countries are objecting to American unilateralism in the privatization process (read: no-bid contracts awarded to Bush supporters like Halliburton), but their objections are that they are being cut out of a share of the loot, without calling into question the fundamental unsoundness of privatization itself. While privatization-induced economic meltdowns caused by IMF-mandated structural readjustment programs are bringing chaos down on nation after nation, corporate suits around the world drool over the pickings available in Iraq’s newly liberated economy, promising a rape of the country far more violent and damaging than anything Saddam Hussein managed during his reign. After all, Hussein had to live there.
Entirely absent from this debate are the Iraqi people, who might–who knows?–want to hold on to a few of their assets. Iraq will be owed massive reparations after the bombing stops, but without any real democratic process, what is being planned is not reparations, reconstruction or rehabilitation. It is robbery: mass theft disguised as charity; privatization without representation.
A people, starved and sickened by sanctions, then pulverized by war, is going to emerge from this trauma to find that their country has been sold out from under them. They will also discover that their newfound “freedom”–for which so many of their loved ones perished–comes pre-shackled with irreversible economic decisions that were made in boardrooms while the bombs were still falling.
Thanks, Ms. Klein.