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Coalition "Partners" and "Sharing the Spoils of War"
The governments of South and West Australia are reportedly threatening to sue Australian Prime Minister John Howard over what they fear will be the cancellation of longstanding wheat contracts to Iraq, after the Bush regime pledged to award those contracts to U.S. wheat growers following "victory" over Iraq.
Built up over 50 years, Australia's wheat trade with Iraq commenced before Saddam Hussein came to power in 1968, courtesy of the CIA, which installed his Ba'athist Party in a bloody coup that ejected Iraq's elected government after it had the temerity to claim control of national oil reserves sought by British and American oil companies.
Bush's move to reserve sole U.S. rule of post-war Iraq for the exclusive profit of corporations with close ties to his administration has also raised the ire of his British ally. After asking the British Parliament for more than $6 billion to finance his wildly unpopular attempt to "liberate" Iraq's people and oil resources, Tony Blair called on Bush yesterday to demand a "fair share" of the illicit spoils of war,
An activist inside Australia claims that Washington's threatened handover of Australian wheat contracts to American wheat growers in post-war Iraq is igniting a "firestorm" in a country where national newspapers feature daily photos of sons and daughters fighting alongside the Americans. Some 2,000 Australian troops are currently invading Iraq.
Despite the terrorist bombing of a Bali nightclub that injured hundreds and killed more than 180 people, including seven Australians, last October – opposition to the war is widespread across Australia. Unlike many Americans, who remain unfazed by the complete lack of evidence connecting Baghdad with 911, Australians understand that Iraq was not responsible for the Bali nightclub bombing, which has been linked to Jemaah Islamiah. The radical Indonesian Islamic group has ties with al Qaeda, but not to Baghdad.
Speaking by phone from Melbourne, "Eventide" told Lifeboat News that "at the snap of his fingers" Bush could betray his Australian allies. "This will totally run the lives of Australian wheat growers," she said.
AMERICA BREAKS PPROMISES AND BETRAYS ITS FRIENDS
Australians feel "kicked in the teeth" Eventide declared, adding, "Australia will not be the only one." Current and future British contracts with Iraq will also almost certainly be handed to U.S. companies, the Aussie activist believes.
Similar cancellations of critical shipments of food and fuel oil to North Korea by President-select Bush has already sparked a nuclear crisis with Pyongyang, which last week declared that North Korea was "at war" with the United States.
Last October, Vice President Dick Cheney's staff reportedly met with Exxon Mobil, ChevronTexaco, ConcocoPhilips, and Cheney's former employer Halliburton to carve up Iraq's petroleum pie and boost production of that ruined country's decrepit oilfields from 1.5 million to 3 million barrels per day. [The Guardian Jan. 23, 2003]
Australians say they feel deceived after revelations that their wheat contracts were first tendered to U.S. producers late last January, at a time when Bush was braying about "finding a peaceful solution" to the "crisis" he precipitated in Iraq.
"His deception tells us where he stands," said Eventide over a crackly long-distance connection. The contracts switch has shown Australians that Bush would "have his war regardless" of negotiations and disarmament inspections.
Many Australians remain furious at Prime Minister John Howard for secretly sending troops to Iraq, without informing the public or Parliament. Pre-war polls showed 76% of Australians opposed their country's participation in a U.S.-led war on Iraq. Concern over their troops has seen current Aussie anti-war sentiment reportedly drop to around 60%.
On Feb. 4, 2003, the first Parliamentary vote of no confidence in a government leader in Australia's 102 year history was passed when Australia's upper house of parliament passed a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister John Howard for his handling of Iraq.
"John Howard has let this nation down. His gross mishandling of Australia's involvement deserved the strongest parliamentary rebuke," Greens Senator Bob Brown exclaimed after the motion was passed by 33 to 31 votes.
The tellingly symbolic gesture had no legislative clout. But further non-confidence votes over the wheat imbroglio could unseat the Australian PM, even as a movement to impeach George Bush gathers momentum in the American congress.
According to today's Dow Jones Business News, the governments of wheat-supplying Australia wants to maintain its share of Iraqi wheat imports, "but fears U.S. farmers want to muscle back in, with reports of 600,000 tons of U.S. wheat - or rice as a substitute - already slated as food aid to Iraq."
Until the onset of the last Gulf War, the U.S. was a major wheat supplier to Saddam Hussein's regime.
NO WORRIES, MATE
Earlier today, Australian Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson said he wasn't concerned that his country's wheat supply to Iraq would be handed over to U.S. firms once the war ends. "I think there will be fair play," he told reporters. "If there isn't, we'll certainly be insisting on it."
Earlier this week, Australian wheat exporter AWB Ltd. said it "likely" will maintain shipments to Iraq after the conflict ends. AWB has already sold 100,000 metric tons of wheat to the Australian government for food aid in Iraq.
According to Dow Jones Business News, AWB has been Iraq's biggest supplier of wheat for many years under the United Nations' oil-for-food program. It's annual wheat trade with Iraq sometimes exceeds two million metric tons, worth more than A$500 million. The vital oil-for-food aid program supplied more than half of daily food requirements for the people of Iraq, before being suspended when the UN evacuated its food relief staff there, ahead of the American-led invasion.
CHOKE ON THIS
According to Reuters today, "U.S. wheat growers and exporters hope eventually to recapture part of the large Iraqi market it lost nearly a decade ago when Saddam Hussein's regime banned American food imports. American-grown wheat already is in the pipeline for Iraq as part of a massive humanitarian aid effort to avert food.
"Alan Tracy, head of U.S. Wheat Associates, a Washington-based pressure group promoting American wheat exports, said he is "confident that both U.S. and Australian wheat will find its way to Iraq."
Prior to the provocations and U.S. diplomatic invitation which brought Iraqi troops into Kuwait in 1990, the United States was a major supplier of wheat, rice, poultry and other farm commodities to Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Much of these sales were backed by $2 billion in Agriculture Department export credit guarantees, which Baghdad used to purchase chemical and biological weaponry from the American Type Tissue Culture corporation in Maryland. [Bringing The War Home]
Baghdad never repaid the loans. But it did throw Scuds filled with sarin, mustard and mycotoxins into the faces of America's sons and daughters during the 1990-91 Gulf War. [Bringing The War Home]
Post-Gulf War I U.S. food shipments to Iraq were eventually replaced with other exporting countries enjoying better relations with Iraq's dictator. Prior to "Gulf War The Sequel", Australia supplied two of the three million tons of wheat annually imported by Iraq. France, India and others supplied the rest.
Bush's violent reopening of new markets in Iraq "could not come at a better time," Reuters reports. U.S. wheat exports are currently down 13% from last year after traditional big customers like Egypt switched to cheaper wheat from aggressive new suppliers like Russia and old rivals like France.
But will hungry Iraqi people eat U.S. wheat?
Tracey admitted a preference for white wheat in Iraq. "That creates a natural market for Australia," he said. But Iraqi families may have to swallow U.S. red wheat, along with a follow-on corporate invasion of unwanted American junk culture. "Down the road," Tracey brightened, "we'll have hard white wheat in this country that might be perfect" for that conquered country.
THE COMING WAR IN IRAQ
But American intentions to rule over Iraq are not playing well in Europe or the UN. Speaking at a European Union summit in Belgium six days ago, French President Jacques Chirac declared that France will "not accept" a U.N. resolution that would "legitimize" the war by giving the "belligerents" the power to run Iraq. AP quoted Chirac saying, "That would justify the war after the event."
While rival "allies" continue to dicker over the multi-billion dollar spoils of a war condemned as immoral and illegal by legal experts, the United Nations, and people taking to the streets around the planet, the proud inhabitants of ancient Mesopotamia continue to resist their heavily armored, radioactive shell-firing "liberators" with rifles and pickup trucks.
The spirit and courage of a people battered by more than a decade of U.S.-imposed epidemics, radiation sickness and strangulating sanctions has proved so powerful, Bush yesterday ordered an additional airlift of 30,000 American troops and hundreds of house-size tanks to join an increasingly violent effort to beat this recalcitrant population into freedom.
Unfazed by mounting revelations that much of his show-and-tell "proof" of Iraq's contraventions of UN disarmament resolutions was faked, Secretary of State Colin Powell insisted today that Washington will run the country it invaded for its own profit and purposes. Just how the U.S.A. intends to occupy and administer a country of seven million angry armed citizens for five to eight years before handing over power to handpicked Iraqi expatriates is not clear.
Middle East experts predict that the instant Saddam Hussein flees or is deposed, fighting between rival Kurdish, Sunni, Shia, Ba'athist, Turkish and other tribal factions will tear Iraq apart in a civil war that will make the current carnage seem only a mild prelude. In all this bloody score-settling, allied profiteering from wheat imports, oil sales and reconstruction of the country they ruined may go the way of previous Western dreams of Arabian conquest.
William Thomas is the author of All Fall Down: The Politics of Terror and Mass Persuasion and Bringing The War Home. See also his award-winning documentary, “Eco War”. To view more work by William Thomas, click here. For commercial reprint rights please contact William Thomas.
Copyright W. Thomas 2003. For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .