Garner On Reasons For Delay In

Garner on Reasons for Delay in Returning Sovereignty to Iraq

I can remember in April of 2003 when I complained on an email list about American plans to run Iraq for a while, when I got a protest message from a member of Jay Garner’s staff. Garner, the diplomat said, intended to turn sovereignty over to the Iraqis within 6 months. And he certainly went on to behave as though that was his intention.

I saw him on the BBC world report Friday night, making the same point. And he let slip something very interesting. He said that the reason that Paul Bremer came in and delayed the turnover of sovereignty was that it would have gotten in the way of the Bush administration’s economic plans for Iraq.

We know that Bremer is an old-time proponent of laissez-faire economics who wanted to implement a Polish-style shock therapy in the Iraqi economy. If Garner is right, Bremer reversed Garner’s plan to hold a national convention in July of 2003 that would elect a sovereign Iraqi government, because the new government might well retain many of the Baath socialist approaches to running the economy. Arab socialism in turn functions as a form of protectionism, keeping out foreign investors.

It is impossible to know if Garner’s approach, of a quick turn-over of power to a legitimate Iraqi government, would have pulled the rug out from under the building Sunni Arab insurgency. But there is at least a chance that the Bremer attempt to play General MacArthur-in-Tokyo inflamed anti-imperialist sentiment and made the uprising worse. If so, hundreds of US troops have died and thousands have been wounded so that the Iraqi economy could be wedged open for American corporate investments.

See, which reprints a Guardian article summarizing the interview. The article mentions the “free-market plans” of Bremer but is not as clear as the interview about those being the reason for Garner’s removal and for delaying Iraqi elections or the transfer of sovereignty.

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