Nicolas J S Davies

A collection of published articles and letters to policymakers regarding the crisis in United States foreign policy by Nicolas J S Davies.

Location: North Miami, Florida, United States

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Letter to Congress on Interim Government in Iraq

The Hon. Kendrick Meek
1039 Longworth House Office Building
Washington DC 20515

Saturday, June 5th, 2004

Dear Kendrick,

Last week’s coup, in which Iyad Allawi and his colleagues from the Iraqi Governing Council seized political power in Iraq, fits disturbingly into a pattern that has dogged U.S. foreign policy since 1945. When the United States appoints a “puppet” government and we assume that our greater economic and military power will permit us to pull the strings, we have invariably found that it is the “puppet” which ends up pulling our strings. The whole concept of “leverage” always seems to work the wrong way round! Why is this?

The simple answer is that once the United States government has declared that a political transition in a particular country is a vital U.S. national interest, one that we are prepared to send our children to die for and to spend $200 billion on, any surrogate that seems to offer us the promise of success has us over a barrel. They can pursue their own self-serving interests, and we will invest blood and money and put up with almost unlimited venality and repression as long as they can still dangle the elusive carrot of achieving our goals in front of our noses.

This has been a persistent weakness of American neo-colonialism, and it is inherent in its very nature. Since 1945, we have sought to gain the economic benefits of colonialism (cheap labor and raw materials, and captive markets for our companies) without the responsibilities and problems of direct rule. We have only sporadically resolved the problem of who else can provide the stable environment required to achieve our economic goals, and even many of our successes have been problematic or short-lived. Our commitments to repressive regimes have lost us the goodwill and respect of their subjects and neighbors, and the Philippines, Haiti and Honduras remained the poorest states in their respective regions throughout their neo-colonial history. And after sixty years of American neo-colonialism, the people of the third world who have suffered the consequences of our policies know this aspect of our history better than we do.

Contrary to domestic conventional wisdom, our great economic and military power has been most ineffective and most susceptible to “reverse leverage” when it has been most aggressively applied and most unreservedly committed, and the reasons for this are fairly obvious. The more we are already committed to a surrogate regime, the less leverage we have over its policies. Conversely, our desperate need for the regime to succeed gives it leverage to extract additional American support for its policies and interests, whether they coincide with ours or not.

The United Nations had hoped to give Iraq a fresh start by creating an interim government that was politically independent of the United States and the IGC, and that had a local base of support in Iraq. Eighteen members of the Iraqi Governing Council held foreign passports, and most Iraqis understandably view them as collaborators and profiteers. That the Bush administration was willing to cooperate with the IGC to manipulate this process is a clear indication that they have not relinquished their original neo-colonial goals for Iraq, and that they have still not understood the extent to which their policy has already failed.

Peter Galbraith, the former US ambassador to Croatia and UN administrator in East Timor, says frankly, “Americans like to think that every problem has a solution, but that may no longer be true in Iraq”(New York Review of Books, 5/13/04). The greatest danger is not that the Allawi government will ask us to leave, but that this policy we have contrived could be successful in maintaining Allawi in power with massive US backing, but never in winning over enough of the Iraqi people. This would leave us with a long-term commitment of US forces and funds, no end in sight to the violence, and increasing international isolation. Even worse, the prospect and ferocity of a civil war when we eventually do pull out would only be exacerbated by the existence of a well-armed security force under Allawi’s command in addition to the ethnic factions that already exist. In Vietnam, we staked our hopes on a U.S.-backed “third force”, and then destroyed the country to defend it. In Iraq, we are injecting a “fourth force” into an already difficult and complicated situation, and the consequences may be even more devastating.

Closer to home, Dominican General Nobel Espejo has told a fact-finding mission from the International Action Center that former FRAPH members and Haitian soldiers had trained with Dominican “Castasdores”(Special Forces) for four years in preparation for the coup of February 29th that removed President Aristide from Haiti for the second time. Haiti was systematically destabilized, first economically by sanctions, then politically by the U.S.-backed opposition, and eventually by force. On Thursday, Father Gerard Jean-Juste told a full auditorium at FIU that twelve Aristide supporters were shot dead by police during a large but peaceful demonstration in Port-au-Prince on May 18th, and that at least a thousand Lavalas members have been hunted down and murdered by FRAPH since the coup. The police remove bodies and do not return them to their families or publish casualty figures, deliberately making it impossible to confirm deaths. Father Jean-Juste is on foot since his car was riddled with bullets – miraculously no one was hurt – but he returned to his parish in Port-au-Prince on Friday.

I hope that you can keep pressing for some official accounting of what is happening in Haiti. In particular, what role have the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA played in destabilizing Haiti and reconstituting FRAPH, which they originally created in 1993 to eliminate opposition to General Cedras? (The Nation, 1/8/96) The Haitian people are not going to give up their dream of democracy, and at some point neither the United States nor France will be able to stand in their way. As in Iraq, we will find it easier in the end to be on the side of history and humanity instead of committing more violence to hold back the tide. Father Jean-Juste believes that every day of repression is bringing more support to Lavalas, and that President Aristide would probably get more than 92% of the vote if he ran for President again today!

Yours sincerely