Beheadings and tortilla chips

Buencamino does political and foreign affairs analysis for the NGO Action for Economic Reforms. This piece was published in the Yellow Pad column of Business World, 05 July 2004 edition.

Al Qaeda forces, or at least the men behind the masks, are on a
beheading spree. They believe they can win the war by decapitating
their enemies.

The Americans, on the other hand, have a different approach to fighting
wars. They believe they can win by handing over formal sovereignty to
the Iraqis.

Before handing over formal sovereignty to Iraq, L. Paul Bremmer, the
American proconsul, took steps to ensure that a eunuch would rise from
the ashes of the old Iraq.

Bremmer, according to the Washington Post, “had issued 97 legal orders,
which are defined by the U.S. occupation authority as ‘binding
instructions or directives to the Iraqi people’ that will remain in
force even after the transfer of political authority.”

In addition to the handpicked Iraqi leadership, he appointed dozens of
officials who would hold office even after the handover of formal
sovereignty.

Bremmer’s orders and appointments cover everything under the sun,
practically every other aspect of Iraqi life. To cite some: Iraq’s
democratic transition, security, taxation, trade, media, the securities
market, the future use of radioactive material, energy, Arab-Kurd
property disputes and even limiting the use of car horns for emergency
situations only.

To ensure that Iraq does not backslide into dictatorship or morph into
a theocratic state, Bremmer fashioned a law empowering a handpicked
commission to disqualify any political party and its candidate from
participating in democratic elections.

To ensure Iraq’s steadfastness as an ally, Bremmer ordered a fixed
five-year term for the positions of national security adviser and
intelligence chief for his handpicked interim prime minister. Should
another prime minister be elected in the proposed January 2005
elections, the new prime minister will have no power to replace his
predecessor’s choices.

To ensure internal security, the Occupation forces led by America will
remain in Iraq under the control of the Americans. American forces will
be immune from any criminal or civil suits arising from legalized acts
like torture or robbing antiquities from museums. Iraq will be
consulted on certain military operations but as Colin Powell says, it
will not be allowed to use the word “veto.”

To ensure justice, Saddam Hussein will be tried by an Iraqi tribunal while remaining in an American prison.

To ensure Iraq’s easy entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO),
Bremmer created a law on private corporations and intellectual property
rights.

To ensure that profits go to the right places, Bechtel will take care
of the reconstruction business, Chevron-Texaco will take care of oil,
Halliburton will handle oil-related services, and CACI will continue to
provide torturers to Abu Ghraib and other prisons. Any business
opportunities that may have been overlooked in the first round will be
awarded to the usual suspects in the second round of no-bid contracts.

To ensure swift reconstruction, Iraq will be allowed to use its oil
revenues to pay American companies to rebuild everything the American
government destroyed.

L. Paul Bremmer boarded a C-130 to fly out of Baghdad immediately after
the handover ceremony. In his heart, he carried the eternal gratitude
of America’s handpicked interim government. In his briefcase, he
carried the testicles of Iraqi sovereignty.

The men behind the masks believe they can win the war by beheading
their enemies. The Americans believe they can win the war by castrating
their friends.

A few months ago George Bush appeared on television sporting a nasty
bruise on his forehead. He said he had fallen off his couch while
trying to watch a football game and eat tortilla chips at the same time.

The men behind the masks can put away their swords. For the enemy now
casts its eyes on matters of national importance: American football
season is coming and liberation is just a tempting tortilla chip away.

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