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When Trade Kills
. Around one million people, half of them children, are believed to have died as a result of the punishing trade sanctions imposed on Iraq after the first Gulf War, and the associated deliberate withholding of aid, principally by the US and the UK. But these sanctions were imposed in extraordinary circumstances, by the UN.
In ordinary life, we do not use trade instruments to punish developing countries, and drive people to poverty, malnutrition and illness and death – do we?
As the World Trade Organisation (WTO) prepares for its 5th Ministerial meeting at Cancun, Mexico, from September 10-14, many people are saying that the so-called ‘Doha Development Round’ is a farce, and that the obscene and widening gap between global rich and global poor is driving global insecurity and is responsible for state and ‘independent’ terrorism.
For more on the links between peace and economic justice check out JustPeace’s sister publication,
. The last few issues all deal with the build-up to Cancun, and next Wednesday’s issue will be a special Cancun issue.
. The USA is boycotting the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Conference (CTBT) being held in Vienna (Austria) from 3rd to 5th September. At this conference government representatives are meeting to discuss the CTBT Entry Into Force (CTBT EIF).
Under President Bush there has been a significant change in US nuclear policy. Although the US was the first state to sign the CTBT in 1996, since George W. Bush came to power in 2001:
- President Bush does not support the CTBT and has declared that he will not seek the approval of the Senate which is still needed for the ratification of the CTBT by the USN
- In November 2002, during a UN General Assembly, the US was the only country that voted against keeping the CTBT on the UN agenda.
- On August 7th 2003 US Secretary of State Colin Powell declared that the US “has no intention of testing nuclear weapons at this time”. However Mr. Powell went on to say “but we can’t rule nuclear testing out forever”.
- The US is actively considering for research and development of a new generation of earth-penetrating nuclear weapons.
- Official proposals are also circulating to reduce the preparation time necessary before resuming underground nuclear testing at the Nevada nuclear test site.
Some observers expect the US to announce resumption of atomic testing within two years. In this context it is not surprising that the US is boycotting the 2003 CTBT EIF Conference in Vienna.
What can be done to oppose this dangerous escalation? Check out the action suggestions offered by the Belgian-based international peace organisation, Friends of Mother Earth, at
US boycotts CBTB
Remember – since 1945 there have been 2051 nuclear tests on our planet. This adds up to an average of one nuclear explosion every 10 days for the past 58 years. Better active today than radioactive tomorrow!
- Bring The Troops Home
. An international initiative to end the occupation of Iraq and bring the troops (of whatever nationality) home has been started — for details go to
Committee to End the Occupation of Iraq
Why is the US so Reluctant to Share Power in Iraq?
and is prepared to spend $US 1 billion a week on its occupation? US citizens as a whole may be the losers — but a few fat cats are getting even fatter as millions of dollars fall into their pockets. Who is profiting, how much are they getting, and are there any NZ connections, are the questions answered by Bill Rosenberg in his article ‘War Profiteers: Corporate Beneficiaries of the US War on Iraq’ in the latest issue of
Foreign Control Watchdog
. Below is Bill’s introduction to the subject, which shows why it matters so much.
”The US now occupies Iraq. Its viceroy, State Department official, Paul Bremer, is the head of as undemocratic a government as any in the world. A powerless, 25-member “Iraqi Governing Council”, all hand-picked by the US, has been appointed to act as a fig-leaf. An earlier US-selected “Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council” of 140 members is already falling to pieces as a result of its impotence. A member, Isam al-Khafaji, an expatriate Iraqi who is professor of political economy at the University of Amsterdam, resigned in July 2003 saying:
“I did this with great sadness but, in doing so, I was able to leave Iraq with a clear conscience. If I stayed any longer, I might not be able to say that. I feared my role with the reconstruction council was sliding from what I had originally envisioned — working with allies in a democratic fashion — to collaborating with occupying forces…
“I accepted the fact that we were a defeated country, and I had no problem working with the United States to pull my country out of a quagmire. But there seemed to be no interest on the part of the coalition in involving Iraqis as advisers on the future of their country. Our role was very limited. Even reporters who visited us took note, writing that although the Reconstruction Council has an office within the Presidential Palace, there seems to be little done there apart from members reading their e-mail — certainly a luxury in post-war Baghdad” (Globe and Mail, “Broken promise: Why I quit Iraq”, 18/7/03).
Al-Khafaji is no al-Qaeda or Baath Party supporter, and no Leftwinger. In the same article he expresses his admiration for US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, one of the most rabid hawks in an Administration that is addicted to war. Al-Khafaji’s statement does not come from someone hoping for US failure.
So who is advising Bremer and the colonial administration? Who is reconstructing the services — hospitals, electricity, schools, universities, government — destroyed so efficiently by this invading superpower?
Part of the answer is: no-one. Isam al-Khafaji again:
“Bitter disputes between the Defense Department and the State Department, which were evident even before the war began and duly reported in the US press, continue to affect the situation. Even though Mr Bremer has the formal authority within Iraq, it seems like each and every decision must go back to Washington, and we are the victims of indecision.
“Iraq is now in almost total chaos. No one knows what is going on. We’re not talking here about trying to achieve an ideal political system. People cannot understand why a Superpower that can amass all that military might can’t get the electricity turned back on. Iraqis are now contrasting Saddam’s ability to bring back power after the war in 1991 to the apparent inability of the US to do so now. There are all kinds of conspiracy theories. Many wonder if the US has a reason for not wanting the electricity back on”.
Part of the answer is that US priorities have been dealt with extremely efficiently:
“The Americans are secretly building two giant intelligence facilities in Iraq at a cost of some half a billion dollars, according to an exclusive report received from DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources. US engineering and construction units are setting up what amounts to an “intelligence city” on a site north of the oil city of Mosul in Kurdistan and a second facility in Baghdad’s Saadun district on the east bank of the Tigris. Our military experts infer from the vast dimensions of the two projects and their colossal expense that it is Washington’s intention to retain a large US military presence in Iraq in the long term, for a decade at least.
“The new installations will greatly enhance America’s military, intelligence and electronic command and control over Iraq and its neighbors, notably Iran and Syria. The Mosul facility will guard northern Iraq’s oilfields and the pipelines carrying Iraqi gas and oil to Mediterranean terminals. Its instruments will reach into every corner of Iran and Syria, replacing America’s electronic eyes and ears in southern Turkey. This facility will be activated a section at a time according to need. Upon completion at the end of 2005, it will employ an operating staff of around 4,000 American intelligence personnel and electronic engineers” (DEBKA-Net-Weekly, ”
Two Huge US Intelligence Centers Go up in Iraq
Laissez Faire Capitalism At Gunpoint
But the US has extensive plans for Iraq’s future. They are for a free-market, privatised, open economy — an economy just like the ones that led to mass unemployment, corruption on extraordinary scales, falling life expectancy, and economic disaster in the former Soviet Union, and the destruction of the social and industrial base of the former Yugoslavia. But this time it has another twist. In a graphic demonstration of the logic behind the free trade and investment agreements it is forcing on other countries, the design, and to a large extent the operation and ownership of this re-engineered society will be by private corporations, for profit. Not even the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank are being allowed to do the work. Service corporations will design and to a large degree run the government and public services.
The alien nature of this operation is emphasised by the lack of knowledge the US has of the country whose future it is planning. For example, in its plans for Iraq’s education system, it admits: “Because certain educational indicators and data for Iraq are scarce and of questionable reliability, this section also incorporates information from the broader Arab region”. In other words it knows next to nothing about the situation that confronts Iraqi education. It then describes “Iraq’s” problems in terms of what it knows of “the broader Arab region”. This is like designing an education system for the US on the basis of what is known about the rest of the Americas.
The corporations are almost all US ones, and most are already deeply involved in contracting for the US military, intelligence, aid and similar agencies. That is because the US government — mainly through its “aid” agency, USAID (US Agency for International Development) — let these contracts, and continues to do so, after very limited tendering processes, restricted to US companies. That is controversial both within the US and amongst US erstwhile allies in Europe who would like to share in the proceeds. In matters as important as this, the US forgets the obligations it expects others to comply with under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), to treat foreign service corporations at least as well as its own.
These corporations are war profiteers. They are making profits from what is with little doubt an illegal occupation, opposed, and increasingly resisted, by the majority of Iraqis — whether or not they approved of the Saddam Hussein regime. These private corporations will be designing and running structures which by international law and convention are the domain of sovereign governments. Even if the US leaves Iraq, even if it leaves behind a democratic government — and these are both doubtful — the structure it is designing and the private interests it is putting in place will preclude any alternative to free-market policies for years. ”
North Korea — What the Media isn’t Telling You. The media spin on the North Korean situation continues to denigrate and misrepresent and the North Korean position and justify the US’s refusal to enter real negotiations and give the security guarantees the North Koreans seek from the world’s pre-eminent nuclear power which has stated itself ready to use those weapons. The true story to date is given by Stephen Gowans in ‘
The End of North Korea
‘ (September 3). He begins:
”It would hardly be going too far to say that what has been written in the US press about the events that attended the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is hogwash. But then this has always been so. Over 50 years ago, Anna Louise Strong wrote, “In the days to come Korea will continue to supply headlines. Yet there is little public knowledge about the country and most of the headlines distort rather than reveal the facts.”
Today, headlines in the New York Times and Washington Post distort rather than reveal the facts. And there is little public knowledge about the country; only vague and frightening impressions based on caricatures and demonic portraits. North Korea, it is said, is a bellicose country that threatens the security of Japan and South Korea by pursuing a nuclear weapons program. It could very well threaten the security of the United States. Yet the country’s leaders believe it is the United States that is a threat, not the other way around. This is untrue, mere paranoia. North Korea’s leadership is irrational and given to issuing threats as a bargaining ploy. And when it comes to negotiating, the country is all over the place. Worst, the country’s leaders have no interest in peace. If they did, would they be developing nuclear weapons? Would they have rejected further negotiations with the US, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea?
The headlines and news stories are wholly at odds with reality, though importantly, entirely in sync with Washington’s aims, which are nothing less than the obliteration of North Korea’s communist government, by war if necessary, and its replacement by a pan-Korean government, wholly in the US orbit, presiding over a market economy open to US investment and trade on preferential terms.
So what’s the real story, if not this?”
JustPeace was produced by Christine Dann, Tim Hannah and Keith Locke, MP
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