Tuesday, September 11, 2007
It's a tried-and-tested torture technique: strike fear into your victims, deprive them of cherished essentials and then eradicate their memories. In 2003, the US applied this on an enormous scale for its invasion of Iraq. And then, after Saddam's regime crumbled, Washington set out to rebuild the traumatised country through a disastrous programme of privatisation and unfettered capitalism, as Naomi Klein shows in this exclusive extract from her new book
Tuesday September 11, 2007
".....Which, of course, requires more blasting - upping the dosage, holding down the button longer, more pain, more bombs, more torture. Former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage, who had predicted that Iraqis would be easily marshalled from A to B, has since concluded that the real problem was that the US was too soft. "The humane way in which the coalition fought the war," he said, "actually has led to a situation where it is more difficult to get people to come together, not less. In Germany and Japan [after the second world war], the population was exhausted and deeply shocked by what had happened, but in Iraq it's been the opposite. A very rapid victory over enemy forces has meant we've not had the cowed population we had in Japan and Germany ... The US is dealing with an Iraqi population that is un-shocked and un-awed." By January 2007, Bush and his advisers were still convinced that they could gain control of Iraq with one good "surge". The report on which the surge strategy was based aimed for "the successful clearing of central Baghdad"......
This was not what the Bush administration intended for Iraq when it was selected as the model nation for the rest of the Arab world. The occupation had begun with cheerful talk of clean slates and fresh starts. It didn't take long, however, for the quest for cleanliness to slip into talk into "pulling Islamism up from the root" in Sadr City or Najaf and removing "the cancer of radical Islam" from Fallujah and Ramadi - what was not clean would be scrubbed out by force.
That is what happens with projects to build model societies in other people's countries. The cleansing campaigns are rarely premeditated. It is only when the people who live on the land refuse to abandon their past that the dream of the clean slate morphs into its doppelgänger, the scorched earth - only then that the dream of total creation morphs into a campaign of total destruction.
The unanticipated violence that now engulfs Iraq is the creation of the lethally optimistic architects of the war - it was preordained in that original seemingly innocuous, even idealistic phrase, "a model for a new Middle East". The disintegration of Iraq has its roots in the ideology that demanded a tabula rasa on which to write its new story. And when no such pristine tableau presented itself, the supporter of that ideology proceeded to blast and surge and blast again in the hope of reaching that promised land."