Goll durn I have been worried! I swear I’ve counted at least 655,000 dead sheep trying to get a decent night’s rest. What’s eating me?
I want to know just how those Iraqis are going to actually pay for their own liberation. I mean, democracy doesn’t come cheap, you know?
Not to look a gift nation in the mouth, the Iraqis really ought to be grateful as all get out. They should be eager to pay for their own liberation. Don’t ‘cha think? Damn straight. Well, the good news is that now they are and it’s about time too.
You ask: how’s a country that’s as devastated as Dresden on the morning of February 15, 1945, going to foot the bill? Where are the Iraqis going to come up with that kind of money?
Well, here’s the answer. I mean the real answer as opposed to the spin-doctor variety.
To figure out Iraq’s fabulous money-raising schemes, we need to go back in time to the build up to and the blowback from Desert Storm.
"In August 1990 the Security Council adopted resolution 661, imposing comprehensive sanctions on Iraq following that country’s invasion of Kuwait. In the immediate aftermath of the Gulf War in 1991, the Secretary-General dispatched an inter-agency mission to assess the humanitarian needs arising in Iraq and Kuwait. The mission visited Iraq from 10 to 17 March 1991 and reported that “the Iraqi people may soon face a further imminent catastrophe, which could include epidemic and famine, if massive life-supporting needs are not rapidly met.” (S/22366, para. 37)." United Nations Iraq Programme, Oil for Food
Just shows the prescience of the United Nations. See, all the way back in 1991, the UN knew that in March 2003, the US was going to invade and destroy Iraq… all for Iraq’s own good of course. Well, okay maybe it was just a gut feeling. And we thought the Downing Street Memo was dynamite. Breathtaking powers of prediction!
Anyhow, it wasn’t long before the U.N. realized that their policies of starving Saddam were starving the Iraqi people instead. So, the U.N. resolved that to alleviate disease and hunger (caused by U.N. imposed economic sanctions), Iraq’s oil would be sold and the revenues would be used in Iraq for humanitarian purposes. Somehow, Saddam kept living high the hog. I wonder why?
Very big of the U.N. The Iraqis were to continue to give up their oil revenues and the U.N. would allow the West to ship humanitarian supplies such as Big Macs, Super-Sized Cokes and Pepto-Bismol. See? Oil for "Food."
In May of 2003, after "winning" its cakewalk war, the US reckoned that it would control all of that Iraqi oil. With those Iraqi oil revenues, Uncle Sam would regard as small change the bill for endless war in the region. Pity that plan didn’t pan out. Following in his fine tradition of running oil companies into the ground, our beloved leader botched this hot property too.
Oddly, the ungrateful Iraqis seemed to think their oil, and their country, belong to Iraqis. Their idea of liberation did not include occupation by the U.S. of A. The nerve!
Today, confronted with huge bills for armaments to conduct their war of liberation, the Iraqis need to raise big sums of cash. How do they do it?
That’s easy! Exactly the same way Uncle Sam planned to fund his wars of aggression. The Iraqi insurgents are paying for it with… Iraqi oil!
Whew, what a relief. I don’t really mind the two trillion U.S. bucks to build edifices like the big ditch around Baghdad, a "free flowing" police training toilet and an enormous U.S. Embassy to upstage some Saudi prince’s measly little "palace." I don’t even mind using it to build a bunch of temporarily permanent… I mean "enduring" military bases in Iraq. Two trillion dollars is chicken feed! Heckers, the last time I had two trillion dollars it slipped right through my fingers like butter. I don’t know where it went. Maybe Vegas or Jumbo’s Clown Room in Hollywood or my Enron investments. Dunno. Oh well, easy come, easy go.
According to a report in the New York Times the Iraqi insurgents are "raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, connivance by corrupt Islamic charities and other crimes."
Say! That sounds a bit like what ordinary American corporations and the U.S. government does! Those Iraqis sure have caught on fast to all those fine ethical standards that define our democratic way of life! They must have been paying close attention to Bernie Ebbers, Blackwater USA, former US Congressmen Tom DeLay, Randy "Duke" Cunningham, lobbyist Jack Abramoff and "Godfather" Joseph Bonanno.
The Iraqis may even be raking in as much as $200 million a month from oil smuggling! Let me explain this in layman’s terms. You already know that in Iraq there’s a bunch of "insurgents," as we like to call them. Now these insurgents, who regard themselves as liberationists, and who like to call themselves "jihadist" or "muhajideen," are stealing their own oil back from the Washington oilmen, Bush and Cheney, who have been stealing the same oil from the Iraqis in the first place. Then those same insurgents are smuggling their re-stolen oil across the border and selling it on the… uh… black market. Makes perfect sense to me.
Bush and Cheney have plenty of oil money already. They don’t really need more. I could use some oil money because I pay $50 a week to the lady at the Texaco station. I’m not too keen on supporting any more "liberating." I say let the Iraqis pay themselves! It’s their turn!
Oh but I should mention the other insurgent fund-raisers. Rather than set up a lemonade stand along Baghdad Airport Road or organize a used camel auction, the insurgents have resorted to kidnapping. That’s sure to raise a pretty penny. Of course, it is a bit unscrupulous. So far the best advice the U.S. has to offer the victim’s family is… don’t pay! Hell, once you have your loved one’s finger in a zip-lock bag, do you really need the rest? Times are getting tough and the belts must be cinched in. We’re at war! Just say "NO" to ransom payments!
The kidnappers don’t care if friends and family fail to cough up. Because, Uncle Sam will. Yes, that’s right: How do you think Bush keeps the Gitmo Resort and Spa and its affiliates worldwide packed to the gills? Anyone will do. Look at another beneficiary of U.S. largesse, Iraq’s neighbor Afghanistan. John Sifton of Human Rights Watch has warned of your terrible fate " u2018if you, God forbid, are an innocent Afghan who gets sold down the river by some warlord rival…’ "
How about counterfeiting? I don’t see any big deal here. It’s just printing more money. You know, like the United States Treasury. And since there really is no government in Iraq, elected or not, I don’t see any problem in printing up your own money. Somebody’s got to do it!
And then there’s "connivance by corrupt Islamic charities." Well, now that does sound tacky. "Connivance"! Heavens! I’m not sure connivance is cricket, even when done by U.S. politicians seeking office. It certainly isn’t kosher. How shameful Islamic charities are asking for money from the few Muslims with money and then actually conniving to pass it on to Islamic insurgents! I wonder if the Muslims with the moola know they are being taken for a ride? What sort of deception is being perpetrated here? "Dear Sheik Abdul, please contribute to our charity. We are raising money to end the cruel and needless slaughter of Alaskan wolves." Those sly buggers! That suffering animal dodge gets them every time.
I have no idea what might be meant by "other crimes" that thrive in The Cradle of Civilization, Mesopotamia. From what I can tell not only does crime pay in the Middle East, but also it is legal. The Iraqi police seem to support it… the ones that want to stay alive that is.
Whatever the case may be it certainly is nice to know a peaceful night’s sleep awaits thanks to the Iraq Insurgency’s sound financial policies, which enables the liberation of Iraq to be paid for by the Iraqis… and not by me!
Elizabeth Gyllensvard edited and contributed to this story.
Tom Chartier [send him mail] played lead guitar in legendary Los Angeles punk band The Rotters for 26 years until their final appearance in January of 2004. He has lived in Tokyo and Los Angeles. Currently he resides somewhere in the Caribbean.