How to Get Out of Iraq?

Noam Chomsky

The Nation, May 6, 2004

Transfer real sovereignty


Occupying armies have responsibilities, not rights. Their primary responsibility is to withdraw as quickly and expeditiously as possible, in a manner determined by the occupied population.

It follows that the orders issued by Proconsul Bremer are illegitimate and should be rescinded, including those designed to place the economy effectively in the hands of western (mostly US) banks and multinational companies, and the 15% flat tax which, apart from its injustice, bars the way to desperately needed social spending and reconstruction.

Without economic sovereignty, prospects for healthy development are slight, and political independence verges on formality.

It also follows that Washington should end the machinations to ensure its long-term military presence and control of Iraqi security forces in defiance of the will of Iraqis, who call for Iraqis to control security, according to western-run polls.

These record only minuscule support for the occupying military forces and their civil counterparts (the CPA) or the US-appointed governing council.

With a decision, however reluctant, to transfer authentic sovereignty to Iraqis – not just the traditional facade for Great Power domination – there will be no justification for the huge diplomatic mission, apparently the world’s largest, announced by the occupiers.

Such steps entail abandonment of plans to establish the first secure military bases in a client state at the heart of the world’s major energy reserves – a powerful lever of world control, as has been understood for 60 years, a means to subordinate the region more fully to US interests and the prime motive for the invasion, according to western polls in Baghdad.

Some of those polled agreed with articulate western opinion that the goal was to establish democracy (1%) or to help Iraqis (5%).

A large majority of Americans believe that the UN, not the US, should take the lead in working with Iraqis to transfer authentic sovereignty as well as in economic reconstruction and maintaining civic order.

That is a sensible stand, if Iraqis agree, as seems likely, though the general assembly, less directly controlled by the invaders, is preferable to the security council as the responsible transitional authority.

Reconstruction should be in the hands of Iraqis, not delayed as a means of controlling them, as Washington has indicated.

Reparations – not just aid – should be provided by those responsible for devastating Iraqi civilian society by cruel sanctions and military actions, and – together with other criminal states – for supporting Saddam Hussein through his worst atrocities and beyond. That is the minimum that honesty requires.