The Paris Club, the Washington Consensus and the Baghdad Cake

by Justin Alexander
published in MER232

In October 2004, representatives from the G-8 and 11 other countries will meet without fanfare or press coverage in a quiet room in the French Finance Ministry. It is unlikely that their lunchtime dessert will actually be a cake decorated with the stripes and green stars of the Iraqi flag, but they will certainly be intent on grabbing as large a slice as they can of the metaphorical cake in their minds. The outcome of their meeting will have tremendous significance for 26 million Iraqis.

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Silent Battalions of Democracy

by Herbert Docena
published in MER232

Sheikh Majid al-Azzawi was one proud Iraqi. His office, surrounded by sandbags, barbed wire and tall concrete walls, looked more like a military base than an administrative building. But even the pitch-black darkness that swirled in the corridors most of the day did not dampen al-Azzawi’s spirits. “We are very happy to be part of this council, even if we have simple equipment,” said the member of the Rusafa district council in central Baghdad. “It is the first time for all the members of the government, because it was impossible before.”

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The Insurgency Intensifies

by Steve Negus
published in MER232

Within months after the fall of Saddam, the US military was engaged in a low-intensity guerrilla conflict throughout the predominantly Sunni Arab towns north and west of Baghdad. At first, the US dismissed the attacks as the work of Baathist “diehards” and “dead-enders,” a minor problem that would swiftly disappear thanks to US military might and the cooperation of an Iraqi public anxious to rebuild. Indeed, in its early stages the guerrilla campaign was little more than amateur harassment. But by the end of 2003 -- partly because of the political failures of the Coalition Provisional Authority, but also because of US counterinsurgency tactics -- the insurgency had escalated into a force capable of taking entire cities.

Democracy, Deception and the Arms Trade

The US, Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction

by Irene Gendzier
published in MER234

The controversy over Iraq's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction, the prime justification for the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq, has apparently been laid to rest. A succession of US-commissioned reports have failed to confirm the Bush administration's claims.

Faded Dreams of Contracted Democracy

by Kevin Begos
published in MER234

Iraq now has an elected provisional national assembly and elected provincial councils. In the end, the $467 million given to a US contractor to build democracy had little to do with these achievements.

The Bush Team Reloaded

by Jim Lobe
published in MER234

On September 20, 2001, just nine days after the attacks on New York and the Pentagon, the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) laid out a consensus agenda for President George W. Bush's “war on terrorism.” In addition to military action to oust the Taliban in Afghanistan and “capture or kill” Osama bin Laden, PNAC called for regime change in Iraq “even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack,” and “appropriate measures of retaliation” against Iran and Syria if they refused to comply with US demands to cut off support for Hizballah.

Iraqi Elections

by Chris Toensing
published in MER234

Just once, one wishes, events in post-invasion Iraq could transpire without instantly being spun as helping or hurting President George W. Bush. There was no such luck after images of Iraqis cheerfully -- even joyously -- voting in the January 30, 2005 elections for a provisional national assembly zipped around the world. Bush, not surprisingly, claimed the images as vindication of the 2003 invasion and proof that his promised “forward march of freedom” in the Middle East is just getting started.

The War Economy of Iraq

by Pete Moore , Christopher Parker
published in MER243

On May 26, 2003, L. Paul Bremer declared Iraq “open for business.” Four years on, business is booming, albeit not as the former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority intended. Iraqis find themselves at the center of a regional political economy transformed by war. Instability has generated skyrocketing oil prices, and as US attitudes to Arab investment have hardened in the wake of the September 11 attacks, investors from the oil-producing Gulf countries are seeking opportunities closer to home. This money, together with the resources being pumped in to prop up the US occupation, is fueling an orgy of speculation and elite consumption in the countries surrounding Iraq.

From the Editors

published in MER243

Both political parties in Washington seem determined not to end the US occupation of Iraq until they are convinced the other party will get blamed for the consequences. It is charmless political theater and grotesque public policy. The occupation cannot end too soon.