The Star invited students
from across the greater Toronto area to submit their thoughts on the
election in Iraq. The editorial board selected this essay by Linda
McQuaig, of Don Valley JHS for publication. Miss McQuaig is 12 years
old, and a student in the seventh
Linda McQuaig says today's charade is simply about
In the weeks before the U.S. invasion of
Iraq, the influential New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman
wrote approvingly of "the breath-taking audacity" of the Bush
administration's plans for Iraq. Friedman noted that the invasion
would lead to "a long-term U.S. occupation" and that "Iraq will be
controlled by the iron fist of the U.S. Army." Apparently he didn't
regard any of this as a problem — just part of the job of remaking
Iraq to fit the fantasies of U.S. policymakers.Friedman's casual
acceptance of Washington's right to redesign other countries — an
attitude rampant among media commentators as well as U.S. officials
— sheds light on why the occupation of Iraq has been such a
disaster, and why there's little reason to believe Iraq is on the path
to democracy.No matter how inspired the rhetoric, the U.S.
project in Iraq has never been about democracy. It's been about getting
control of Iraq's vast, virtually untouched oil reserves, and extending
Washington's military reach over the region. "Think of Iraq as a
military base with a very large oil reserve underneath; you can't ask
for better than that," Wall Street oil analyst Fadel Gheit told me in an
interview.Bush officials never wanted to run Iraq themselves, but
rather to have a loyal local do it for them. Before the invasion, their
plan was simply to install the wealthy, CIA-groomed exile Ahmed Chalabi.
They also drew up sweeping plans to privatize the entire Iraqi economy,
including the oil sector — before the Iraqi people got to cast a
single vote.But the "iron fist of the U.S. army" has not been
popular in Iraq, fuelling a resistance that has turned key parts of the
country into a free-fire zone. Among other things, this
makes meaningful elections impossible. If large numbers of people are
too terrified to vote, the results won't reflect the popular will
— yet they'll give an aura of legitimacy to a government that may
represent a tiny minority. But while useless in advancing
real democracy, the election is highly useful to George W. Bush, who
will point to a "democratic" transfer of power. Questioned last
week, Bush said the U.S. would withdraw if asked by the new government.
Really? Earlier in the week, the Pentagon acknowledged plans and
budgets to keep 120,000 troops there for at least two more years.
It sure looks like Washington plans to go on calling the shots in
Iraq, but now there will be a plausible government to show off to the world. If Iraq's oil industry is put on the chopping block and ends up in the hands of U.S. oil companies, Washington will be off the hook; the decision will have been made by the "elected" Iraqi government. At last — mission accomplished.
This is a parody of a Toronto Star website.
Additional articles by Linda McQuaig
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