[OPE-L:8634] Iraq the 51st State

From: Asfilho@aol.com
Date: Wed Mar 19 2003 - 06:45:47 EST

> Iraq, the 51st state 
> Engel in America 
> Matthew Engel
> Wednesday March 19, 2003
> The Guardian 
> Now that war is finally upon us, we must all hope or (if we share our 
> leaders' piety) pray that, within a matter of days, the thing is done with, 
> the Iraqi people will be free of their oppressor and able to enjoy the 
> benefits of American-style democracy. Here is a brief reprise of some of 
> the changes they can expect if the US decides to give Iraq a facsimile of 
> its own highly regarded system. 1. At present, according to the official 
> website of the Iraqi National Assembly ("a major organ for the expression 
> of democracy") the 250 members are elected by blocs of 50,000 voters 
> throughout the country. This suggests the outline principle is the same as 
> in the US. However, the American constitution demands that the 600,000 
> inhabitants of its own capital city should not be allowed to take part in 
> this process. The reasons are so obvious that no one can remember what they 
> are, but most of those affected are poor and black, anyway. To ensure true 
> devotion to US principles, the same will have to apply in Iraq; doubtless 
> the Americans will break the news to the people of Baghdad tactfully. 
> 2. In Iraq's last presidential election, Saddam Hussein received 100% of 
> the votes, a fact we know because officials said so. Instead, the Iraqis 
> can expect a choice between two different American electoral models, either 
> (a) the one employed in Florida in 2000, designed to ensure that the 
> candidate with the most support loses, or (b) the modern version, as 
> applied in more advanced states, where people vote on touch-screen 
> computers. No one has yet got 100% of the votes by this method but 
> Republican senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska did get 83%. We know this 
> because the company that built the machines - which he part-owns - said so. 
> 3. Under various decrees of the revolutionary command council, capital 
> punishment can be handed out cruelly and whimsically in Iraq for a wide 
> variety of offences. Guilt or innocence is irrelevant. This is reported 
> only by a few outside human rights bodies. This would cease under an 
> American-installed system. Instead, executions would be largely confined to 
> black murderers, most of whom will probably be guilty, accused of murdering 
> whites and too poor to afford a decent lawyer. This will be reported only 
> by a few outside human-rights bodies. 
> 4. Under decree 59 of 1994, Iraqis can lose their right hand for theft of 
> more than 5,000 dinars and their left foot for a second offence. This will 
> presumably be replaced by the three-strikes law, ratified this month by the 
> supreme court, under which Leandro Andrade has been jailed for 50 years for 
> stealing nine videos and Gary Ewing got 25 years to life for the theft of 
> three golf clubs. 
> 5. Any Iraqi journalist thought likely to ask Saddam Hussein a difficult 
> question is now subject to the dictates of paragraph 3. The American way 
> (as seen during the presidential press conference two weeks ago) provides 
> for such people to be stuck at the back of the room and simply not called. 
> 6. Saddam has been universally seen firing his gun indiscriminately and 
> menacingly. Under the second amendment, this right would be extended to 
> everyone. 
> 7. Saddam has conducted unnecessary and aggressive foreign wars to distract 
> his benighted people from domestic economic collapse. Such behaviour would 
> be unthinkable under American democracy. 
> 8. Under Saddam, prisoners are held secretly and without trial, and 
> tortured to extract information. Ditto. 
> 9. The Iraqi system is largely dynastic and a leader like Saddam can pave 
> the way for his son to attain wealth and power without regard to merit. 
> Same again. 
> 10. Saddam "electronically bugged" UN weapons inspectors, President Bush 
> said in his speech on Monday night. The US has not yet tried to refute the 
> Observer story that it bugged private meetings of other security council 
> members. It's probably too busy to dignify it with an answer. 
> 11. Saddam has also threatened his neighbours. A well-placed source in 
> Chile reports that Robert Zoellick, the US trade representative, informed 
> the Chilean foreign minister that, if they didn't do as they were told in 
> the security council, their free trade treaty would not be ratified and 
> loans would mysteriously cease. One small example. 
> 12. The National Assembly's system of passing legislation has proved 
> inadequate. Things are different here. When a Georgia congress man slipped 
> in an exemption to organic food labelling rules into a recent bill to 
> protect a firm that gave him a $4,000 campaign donation, it was noticed and 
> criticised. True, the bill was already law before this happened, because no 
> one in Congress had bothered to read it. But the US will ensure that the 
> new legislature cannot be bought secretly for long. At least not that 
> cheaply. 
> 13. There will be no setting fire to oil wells. We need that stuff, dammit. 
> 14. It would be impossible for a war to be conducted solely because one 
> domineering leader forced a cowed and compliant parliament into agreement. 
> The new Iraq will be nothing like that. It could only happen in Britain. 
> <A HREF="mailto:matthew.engel@guardian.co.uk">matthew.engel@guardian.co.uk</A> 

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