[Marxism] The plunder of Iraq -- a symptom of imperialism's growing world disorder

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Wed Dec 29 20:16:04 MST 2004

A few things about the plunder of Iraq.  First, quite  large amount of
the un-happening reconstruction is being paid for out of the wealth of
Iraq -- not, as is often assumed, out of US money for reconstruction.
Most of the contracts put out by the US are for security, base-building,
military equipment, and other war-related stuff.
The oil wealth of Iraq, in addition to simply being robbed by Kuwait
(from which it ends up in US banks etc.) is also going to pay for
reconstruction projects.  The national treasury is being plundered  by
all kinds of US corporations in a thoroughly parasitic manner.  And this
is on top of all the usual terms-of-trade stuff.
Further Iraq is expected to pay the debt built up by the Saddam regime,
and to add to it, too.  The new rulers  are being required to impose an
austerity program -- with 67 percent unemployment they are being called
upon to increase it.  That means tremendous export of capital.
It was not crazy to think that the end of the sanctions and the end of
the bombing -- and the entry of more US capital, etc. -- would have a
stabilizing effect on the economy and also on the occupation for a time.
When a recovery takes place after a bloody war and setback, you don't
have to have an "economist view of human nature" to believe that people
are likely to take some recovery time.  Its important to keep in mind
that there were a lot of Iraqis who were willing to work with the
occupation for a time, on some things, and up to a certain point.  
But there was no recovery, and I think that has something to do with why
the resistance revived so quickly, and why there was a popular base for
Baathist forces, Islamist forces, and others who wanted to fight the
occupation.  Baathism has probably gained as Washington has failed to
better conditions in any significant way from what existed under Saddam,
while dismantling the medical and education systems and leaving the
infrastructure in ruins.
We shouldn't romanticize imperialist evil.  As South Korea showed after
the vast destruction and slaughter of the Korean War, they have been
known participate in construction and make tons of money out of actual
organization of human labor to do things, and they got a degree of
stability out of this for the system even if governments were toppled
periodically.   And there are other places where this happened as well.
The possibility of imperialism seeing actually reconstructing Iraq on a
new more imperialist-dominated basis as  a bonanza for the ruling
families is not barred by the historical "nature" of imperialism, but by
the current situation of imperialism. I didn't expect anything on this
scale, but did think it was possible the economy would move forward for
a short period and that this would aid the occupation for a time.
Nothing about the theoretical "nature" of imperialism or about human
nature barred this from happening.
What  I think I underestimated is just how very much trouble US and
world imperialism are in economically.  I did not expect Iraq to simply
collapse economically, and to be basically left there because I
underestimated how much imperialism has to rely on plunder and ripoffs
including "privatization" and how little they feel they have to gain at
this conjuncture by organizing productive labor on an expanding scale.
For instance, I knew that  what was happening in Africa was rooted in
the decline of imperialism, not "failed states" -- as  the failure of
the extremities at the beginning of a massive stroke is not the product
of "failed hands" or "failed toes" but of  a breakdown in entire
circulatory system.  But I can see much more sharply now the way that
things like the disappearance of a real central government in Somalia,
the war in the Congo, the collapse taking place in the Ivory Coast, the
wreckage in the Sudan and Chad and Sierra Leone and Liberia are not an
"African crisis" as they are usually portrayed but indications of the
accelerated decline of imperialism.  
With Iraq DIRECTLY IN THEIR HANDS, the imperialists have not offered any
alternative to this "chaos."  They profit from it, they use it as a
weapon to demoralize and demobilize people, but they have no way to
overcome it.  This is an aspect of what the SWP leadership -- to give
the devil his due --  once called "capitalism's growing world disorder."
I prefer to say "imperialism's growing world disorder," because the
crisis has its heart in the imperialist countries --  where the real
"failure"is centered. the breakdowns elsewhere being symptoms. I'm
giving credit now so I can use this politically useful  phrase in the
future without further attribution. 
Fred Feldman

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