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[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] Hello all, here's another comment of may 22 on the lifting of sanctions, written by by Sara Flounders. I hope this helps the discussion. Greetings. Dirk Adriaensens. www.irak.be U.S. wins resolution to legally enslave Iraq By Sara Flounders http://www.workers.org/ww/2003/iraq0605.php Possession is nine-tenths of the law. That was confirmed on May 22 when the United Nations Security Council voted to legalize the military occupation of Iraq by the United States and Great Britain. The Security Council handed over both governmental power and unlimited economic control of Iraq's oil wealth to the U.S. and British occupying forces. The United States administration managed to secure an overwhelming vote of 14 of the council's 15 members. Only Syria refused to even attend the vote. This infamous resolution will long be reviled. It establishes a dangerous precedent. And it places every developing nation at far greater risk of predatory imperialist war. The vote swept away the 65 UN resolutions against Iraq that had imposed 13 years of the cruelest sanctions in history. These sanctions have now been replaced--with a resolution that gives the U.S. and Britain authority far beyond any given to an occupying power in UN history. There is no time limit for U.S. political rule and economic control over Iraq's resources. The May 23 New York Times bragged that the United States had "gained the authority to do as it sees fit." The United Nations will be allowed to "check" the resolution after one year. But since the United States and Great Britain have veto power, this is meaningless. Control of Iraq's vast oil wealth is explicitly granted to the U.S./British Authority. Representatives of the UN, World Bank and International Monetary Fund will be allowed to "participate." So these financial institutions, which are dominated by U.S. capital, can express their opinions. Before the war began, France, Germany and Russia--all members of the Security Council--had warned that U.S. action would constitute a breach of United Nations resolutions and a violation of international law. Why did they reverse themselves within the space of less than two months? Why did the United States go back to the UN? Why did Washington need the UN vote? The U.S. administration threatened that if it didn't succeed in winning this vote, the very future of the UN would be at stake. The bargaining for votes had nothing to do with assisting the people of Iraq or solving the enormous humanitarian crisis created by the war and the years of sanctions. It was a series of secret agreements on the division of Iraq's past and future wealth. This UN vote raises important questions that the world movement against the criminal war must deal with. Law and power In order to understand the vote's significance and the sweeping mandate over Iraq handed to the U.S. ruling class and its junior partner Britain, it is necessary to examine the importance of law in capitalist society. In carrying out their war against Iraq, Bush and the Pentagon brass broke their own laws as well as international treaties the United States had helped construct on the conduct of war, including the Nuremburg and Geneva conventions. They violated the UN Charter and flouted the UN Security Council in initiating the war. They violated the U.S. Constitution and War Powers Act. Yet law is of enormous importance to the ruling class in the United States, and to all capitalist property relations on a global scale. The giant transnational U.S. corporations want and need undisputed legal authorization in order to sell billions of dollars in Iraqi oil that they now control. In the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, storage tanks of Iraqi oil are full to the brim. But there are no buyers until it is clear who is legally authorized to sell the oil. Until this issue is resolved, no oil tankers are willing to stop at the Mina al-Bakr terminal, Iraq's sole outlet in the Persian Gulf. There are billions of dollars in contracts for reconstruction at stake--and billions of dollars in future loans, designed to bleed Iraq into overwhelming debt to pay for this reconstruction. The enormously profitable business of reconstructing all that U.S. bombs laid waste has major corporations in the United States, and thousands of smaller sub-contractors around the world, anxious to resolve who is authorized to sign contracts. Banks want to know who has clear title to the billions of dollars that the UN Security Council froze in 1990 at U.S. insistence. These funds, which rightfully belong to Iraq, could be held for years or decades and be a source of endless litigation, if no one has the authority to lay hold of them. That's why the Bush administration used bribes and threats to secure the vote. U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Negroponte had presented a first draft of the resolution on May 9. Britain and Spain co-signed. This opened up the negotiations to broker a deal. Secretary of State Colin Powell traveled to Berlin and Moscow to pressure their votes. He conferred via telephone with the heads of government and ministers of other countries. The debt trap Many secret financial arrangements on loans and future contracts have been part of this bargaining among thieves. Washington agreed to 90 changes in the final version of the actual wording of the resolution. But the changes were superficial. They did not alter the resolution's main thrust. As bribes to gain the votes of France and Russia, the United States used the leverage of the billions of dollars in loans that Iraq owed these countries from before the 1990 war. These loans will be restructured. Any illusions that the UN would be a vehicle to resist U.S. domination were shattered by these countries' collusion. The authority to negotiate and structure loans and oil contracts for future development is the most sweeping power. Only the banks will benefit. This was Washington's priority. The U.S. military didn't fight this war to give the Iraqi people free health care, free education, subsidized housing or food. These are programs Washington wants to destroy. Each Iraqi ministry that organized to provide these basics was looted and destroyed. To understand what the U.S. corporations and banks have in store for Iraq, look at the situation next door in Saudi Arabia. In order to stay in power, an utterly compliant and corrupt feudal group, the Saud family, has let U.S. and British oil corporations get the lion's share of its oil and gas. This is the country with the largest oil reserves in the world, the most oil pumped and a smaller population than Iraq. Saudi Arabia, despite its oil wealth, has been bled dry. Billions of dollars have been spent for worthless military equipment that can only be maintained by U.S. technicians. It has become a debtor nation. Most Saudi women are still illiterate. And except for the modern cities of Riyadh, Mecca and Medina, a large part of the population still lives in mud villages. Knowing this, can anyone believe that U.S. imperialism plans to spend any significant part of the money it will control from Iraq's oil on human needs? The plans call for the reconstruction of oil fields, pipelines and ports, and little else. Past crimes and legality What U.S. imperialism is attempting in Iraq has a long historical precedent. Past capitalists have legalized the most horrendous crimes. The slave trade in African people was not an illegal act of piracy. It was legal capitalist trade. At one time it was legal in every U.S. state and also under international law. It was, by every standard, absolutely criminal in human terms. But it was legal because for the early capitalist system it was enormously profitable. The genocide of Native peoples and the theft of their lands across the United States were carried out through hundreds of treaties. The U.S. government broke those treaties, yet they were important--not to the Native people, who were forced to sign them and who came from societies that could not conceive of owning or selling land. The treaties were essential to the railroad barons, land speculators and bankers in order to have clear title to the stolen land. If the land could not be bought and sold and speculated on, it had no capitalist value. Colonialism, its wars of conquest, the carving up of India, China, most of Asia, all of Africa and Latin America--all this was codified in international law and the treaties of the day. It was blessed by popes, praised by poets and artists, justified in universities. This was really pillage and looting of whole parts of the globe. But constructing a legal basis for this piracy was essential for stable capitalist exploitation. All the colonial powers erected a huge edifice of laws to embellish their utterly criminal rule. Ninety-nine percent of all law under capitalism has to do with property, possession, ownership. Who is entitled to inheritance and profit? The basis of law is power. Capitalist property is legalized theft The purpose of law and of the whole state apparatus of cops, courts, prisons and especially the military is to guarantee that the wealth accumulated over generations of legalized theft and the exploitation of millions of workers--in sweatshops, the slave trade, the near-genocide of indigenous nations, and colonial conquest--stays in the hands of a tiny class of globally powerful super-rich capitalists. Only a tiny fraction of the whole body of law under capitalism deals with issues of human rights. These are the laws and rights that have been won through the massive mobilizations of the oppressed. The guarantees in the Bill of Rights such as the right to free speech and assembly, now under such severe attack, came in response to demands from below. Laws against slavery, laws prohibiting child labor, laws minimally protecting the rights of workers to organize and form unions, laws against the most blatant forms of bigotry and discrimination--all these came from powerful grassroots movements. These laws dealing with rights for those without large-scale property are always under attack. The laws dealing with property ownership are endlessly reinforced. The only times in history when the laws of property have been successfully challenged have been in revolutionary mass upheavals that altered the whole fabric of society. The Iraqi people have overturned past efforts at colonial domination. The mass demonstration that swept across Baghdad as the UN resolution was being debated was a sign that the people are increasingly aware of what the United States has in store--and that they are determined to resist. Although UN agencies may be able to distribute some emergency food supplies, the Security Council vote to authorize and legalize colonial subjugation will teach a lesson to the world movement. It is an infamous decision that sets a far more dangerous precedent. No confidence can be placed in this institution that is incapable of challenging U.S. imperialism. It is made up almost entirely of bourgeois governments that do not represent the people of the world. The struggle against imperialism and war can only be carried out by an independent movement of the masses of working and oppressed people worldwide. For the first time this movement has had a glimpse of its own potential. This is the future. In the difficult period ahead, the power of this movement acting in solidarity with the Iraqi people is the only force capable of challenging U.S. plans of endless war and further conquest. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk