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[casi] U.S. wins resolution to legally enslave Iraq

An interesting article:

By Sara Flounders

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Mark Parkinson

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