Freedom, Iraqi style


"Threw all the people in relocation camps,
Under lock and key, made damn sure they're free."

Phil Ochs, "Talking Vietnam" (All The News That's Fit To Sing)

Folk singer Phil Ochs wrote these lyrics in 1964. Forty years later, the occupying forces in Iraq are doing the same. After destroying Fallujah in order to save it, the US military has drawn up plans to keep the population (sorry, insurgents) under control. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the mistakes of Vietnam are being repeated again. The people of Fallujah will be liberated by being imprisoned.

With the fighting in Fallujah (mostly) over, the US military is planning to keep insurgents from regaining control of what is left of the city. To do this they plan to turn it into a police state rather than the democracy the US claimed to be bombing for. The occupying troops plan to funnel returning Fallujans into so-called citizen processing centres on the outskirts of the city to compile a database of their identities through DNA testing and retina scans (all of which sounds remarkably similar to the data to be held on New Labour's ID cards. Perhaps Blunkett can get a new job administering the system?). The "liberated" citizens will then be given badges displaying their home addresses that they must wear at all times.

All of which is a tad strange, given that before the assault on Fallajah the US asserted that the "anti-Iraqi" insurgents were "foreign fighters" (unlike the 138, 000 American troops pounding an Iraqi city to rubble and forcing over 200,000 Iraqis from their homes into the squalor of refugee live). Needless to say, the assault also failed to stop the insurgency (just as the deaths of Saddam's sons, his capture and the transfer of "sovereignty" all failed to mark the turning point the pundits claimed).

It gets worse. One idea raised would require all men to labour in military-style battalions for pay. Depending on their skills, they would be assigned jobs in construction, waterworks, or rubble-clearing platoons. Trotsky would be proud -- US imperialism has appropriated his idea for militarisation of labour! Would not it be easier, and more honest, just to tattoo the identification numbers on their wrists and sew some sort of symbol (incorporating their id and address) onto their clothes?

So as well as wasting nearly $150 billion (and counting, not to mention the US Defense Department asking for an extra $100 billion) the invasion and occupation of Iraq has further eroded the already extremely weak ethical standards of our so-called civilised society. The Bush Junta has created the circumstances in which the US military openly discuss using slave labour. But what can you expect? We live in a political culture which talks about occupation as "liberation" without laughing and are ruled by self-proclaimed "democratic" government which fail to see the fundamental injustice in indefinite incarceration without trial and even the use of torture. This is a desperate and truly saddening state of affairs which displays the real face of the state.

All this is part of making Fallujah a "model city," to use the expression of US commanders and their appointed Iraqi puppets. To achieve this they are using the coercive measures allowed under the martial law imposed last month by Iyad Allawi (whose US appointed government the US military is claiming suggested these ideas).

So here is "liberation" US style, the turning of Iraqi civilians into a categorised and labelled pool of slave labour who will be forced, at gun point, to clear rubble their guards created out of their homes and town. This treatment, moreover, is considered as being a "model" and, consequently, will be unlikely to stay in Fallujah.

The Bush Junta really is the best recruiting agent Bin Ladden has.

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