by Line Thomsen / Baghdad Bulletin –
BAGHDAD (August 31, 2003) — Editor’s note: BBC investigative reporter Greg Palast is the author of the recent bestseller The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, a look at the American political process. He is also one of two journalists who obtained a document from the administration of US President George Bush titled “Moving the Iraqi Economy from Recovery to Sustainable Growth.” A confidential 101-page US State Department report written prior to the invasion of Iraq, it outlines the plan for a “postconflict economy” that involves the mass privatization of virtually every Iraqi government asset. Palast decided to grant an interview to the >Bulletin because “you speak to some people in Iraq, and they ought to know what is planned for them.”
Same old question: Was oil really the reason for war?
The leaked document, which only Palast and a reporter from The Wall Street Journal have managed to obtain, contains plans of “private sector involvement in strategic sectors, including privatization, assets, sales, concessions, leases and management contracts –– especially in the oil and supporting industries.”
“Said more plainly; it is a plan to sell off the oil fields, the pipelines and the oil infrastructure of Iraq to private business and to turn what is left of Iraq into a freemarket paradise,” Palast said. “The plan is obviously made to make it easier for the giant operators that could possibly afford to take over Iraq’s oil wealth,” he said.
Palast’s suggestion to what organizations would possibly take over the oil wealth included “two giant American operators, two British and one Russian operation.” Needless to say, Palast’s theory and the leaked document echoes the European and Middle Eastern claim that the reason to start the war was oil.
The document does not only indicate that US is planning to privatize every economically beneficial asset, but also the very backbone of Iraq — its laws.
“The plan contains details of how to rewrite Iraq’s laws, including the nation’s copyright laws, the nation’s business regulations laws, taking over the banking sector and includes such strange things as writing for Iraq its application to join the World Trade Organization. On top of that, the plan includes a detailed rewriting of Iraq’s tax code,” Palast said.
The Plan in Action
Quoting the plan, Palast reads: the US government will, through a private contract: “Design fiscal regimes for petroleum, mining and transit pipelines, for para-legislations, implementing regulations and strategies for implementations and identify priorities of revenue tax reform. … If property tax regimes fit tax policy strategy; to provide support for regulation and implementing instructions and procedures and appropriate staffing and training of taxing personnel.”
Interestingly, the document also outlines plans to use the World Economic Forum, rather than the World Bank, which is designed for postwar reconstruction. The World Economic Forum is a private organization, controlled by multinational corporations with no experience or authority to take over a nation’s economy.
“By eliminating the World Bank, they indicate that there is no time for the World Bank’s indirect methods. The grab for the assets has to be done before a government is elected, which would stop it — any government is going to want to maintain some Iraqi ownership over Iraqi resources, which is not in the plan. It is a deliberate go-around around the World Bank.”
Though Palast himself is one of the most well-known critics of the World Bank, he said that: “Compared to Paul Bremer and the World Economic Forum, the World Bank is a wonderful agency. That is how bad this is.”
The document is said to contain a whole section on tax administrations and how to eliminate all the trade laws of Iraq. From Palast’s reading, it appears that almost nowhere in this document does the one key element — Iraqis — appear.
“There are only a couple of places where the document states that they will “include members of an Iraqi government in the decision making.”
Is This Why Garner Was Sent Home?
From reading the document, Palast said he is confident he knows why Gen. Jay Garner, the former head of the US-led administration in Iraq, was removed in May.
“Jay Garner was savaged and he was defamed, by a terrible whisper campaign that he was incompetent … because he got off the airplane and said that there would be elections within 90 days. Also he said that no elected government of Iraq, no matter what religion, political viewpoint or philosophy would ever sell off its oilfields. That is why he got sent out.”
“Making such statements could only mean that Garner was not aware of the US plan,” Palast said.
Palast continues to gather evidence that Bremer knows the plan very well and is implementing it. He has already let out contracts for reorganizing the Iraqi banking industry and convened a special meeting with the World Economic Forum.
“What for?,” asked Palast rhetorically. “They are putting the plan into direct action”.
The War Was Long Planned
Among the other disturbing facts of the document obtained by Greg Palast is the date it was constructed. According to Palast, the document appears to have been written long before the war.
“The draft I have obtained is dated February 2003, but given the extreme, extraordinary detail of what it discusses, it is clear that this plan was written months, maybe even a year, before the invasion. Certainly it was written well before we had any idea that there would be a conflict in Iraq. This makes it obvious that the US administration was thinking of a war with Iraq long before Saddam Hussein was publicly declared a threat to America,” Palast said.
© Baghdad Bulletin 2003. The Baghdad Bulletin is Iraq’s only English-language news magazine and one of the country’s only independent publications.