Reply to Ted Glick on the UN in Iraq

Posted to on August 31, 2003

Dear Ted,  

I just found out about your support of the UN helping out the natives in Iraq:


It was referred to on Doug Henwood's email list, where Doug has been speaking up for taking up the White Man's Burden as well. So does Christian Parenti apparently, a recent guest on his show who confided that an Iraqi told him that he would be happy if the USA took his oil in exchange for electricity and water. For what it's worth, I believe that privatizing the oil and selling it to the highest bidder goes hand in hand with making electricity and water scarce. That's what happened in Argentina, Bolivia and South Africa. Right?

You say that Iraq's problem is the lack of "civil society", which you blame on a 3 decade long dictatorship. I am glad that you put civil society in scare quotes, because that is a pretty scary thing in this day and age. Ever read James Petras's article on NGO's in the Monthly Review? It is a pip. He says about their involvement with creating "civil society":

On the surface the NGOs criticized the state from a "left" perspective defending civil society, while the right did so in the name of the market. In reality, however, the World Bank, the neoliberal regimes, and western foundations co-opted and encouraged the NGOs to undermine the national welfare state by providing social services to compensate the victims of the multinational corporations (MNCs). In other words, as the neoliberal regimes at the top devastated communities by inundating the country with cheap imports, extracting external debt payment, abolishing labor legislation, and creating a growing mass of low-paid and unemployed workers, the NGOs were funded to provide "self-help" projects, "popular education," and job training, to temporarily absorb small groups of poor, to co-opt local leaders, and to undermine anti-system struggles.


If you don't think that the UN was up to the same crap in Iraq as described in the above paragraph, then you must be talking about some other outfit. Here's some more on that from an article posted on Marxmail and other leftwing lists by Yoshie Furuhashi, a member of Solidarity at Ohio State:

U.N., IMF, World Bank to discuss Iraqi needs Reuters, 08.22.03, 4:42 PM ET

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N., World Bank and IMF officials will meet in Belgium early next month to lay the groundwork for a conference in Spain on raising money to help rebuild Iraq, a U.N. official said Friday. Delegates from more than 50 countries are expected to attend the later Oct. 23-24 gathering in Madrid of world governments interested in contributing to the cost of Iraqi reconstruction. A preparatory conference for the Madrid meeting will take place Sept. 3 in Brussels, U.N. chief spokesman Fred Eckhard said. . . . Eckhard said work "has almost been completed" on the needs assessment, which is being prepared by the World Bank, the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund with help from other agencies and the European Union.


The idea that the UN, World Bank and IMF are interested in "rebuilding" Iraq is rather comical, if you ask me. Rather dark comedy, but comedy nonetheless.

You do qualify your support for UN meddling, by saying that if it does anything it should be limited to looking after the management of Iraq's oil profits. Since Dennis Kucinich supports this, it makes it kosher in your eyes. I guess this goes hand-in-hand with your advice to the Greens not to run in any states where the race between Bush and a Democrat would be a toss-up. Don't get me wrong, but if Eugene V. Debs heard this kind of blather, he'd be spinning in his grave.

You also advise that Arab troops keep the peace in Iraq, which is the same thing I heard from John Kerry on television this morning. I guess that getting the natives to keep other natives in line might work in certain circumstances. The sepoys were quite reliable in India, as I understand it.

If this is the sort of thinking going on behind the scenes at your end of the peace movement, all I can recommend is a bottle of Geritol and watching "Battle of Algiers" on video because you sound rather burned out to me and in need of a radical kick in the ass.