By Renato Redentor Constantino
President Arroyo keeps insisting that the Philippines must support America’s illegal and immoral war against terrorism, notwithstanding the fact that the country’s very Constitution renounces war as an instrument of national policy. Filipinos who have a sense of history are wary of America’s intentions on Iraq with good reason. They remember the decades of support that the US extended to the tyrant Marcos – the same kind of unqualified support that America provided to Saddam Hussein when Iraq was poison-gassing the soldiers of America’s enemy Iran during the 1980s. Filipinos with a sense of history can thus consider themselves sovereign members of the emergent global superpower of peace advocates opposing the US-led attack on Iraq.

Can one really blame the rest of the world for doubting America’s intentions to bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East, beginning with Iraq? Just ask yourself – if the project of the US is to create a bastion of democracy in Iraq that will hopefully spread throughout the Middle East, then why is it that all of America’s major military bases are located in countries that are ruled by blatantly despotic regimes like Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.?

But maybe we are just too cynical of Imperial America. Maybe the fundamentalists in Washington honestly intend to bring democracy and freedom to the Middle East. After all, even though the Bush government has announced that the US military will govern Iraq in the short-term, Washington has also stated that it intends to place later civilians capable of ‘installing’ democracy. ‘Embedded’ democracy, though thoroughly twisted, sounds much better than ‘permanent US military rule’ some may say.

So let’s take a look at the man the Bush administration has chosen as the leader most likely to head the ‘new democratic Iraq’. His name is Ahmed Chalabi and he is the founder of what Washington perennially refers to as the main opposition to Saddam Hussein’s rule – the Iraqi National Congress.

If intellectual pedigree is one indication of America’s benevolent plans on Iraq, then the peoples of the Middle East may have some reason to celebrate the Anglo-American invasion. Chalabi is a mathematician trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before earning a doctorate in mathematics at the University of Chicago. Chalabi also taught math at the American University of Beirut. In 1977, Washington’s chosen ‘embedded democrat’ was even invited by Jordan’s Crown Prince Hassan to establish the Petra Bank, “a financial institution that would soon become the second-largest commercial bank in Jordan.”

“[Chalabi’s] a rare find … He’s deep in the Arab world and at the same time he is fundamentally a man of the West,” says Max Singer, a trustee and co-founder of the Hudson Institute.

With such a background, it looks understandable for Team Chalabi to count as key supporters Bush government luminaries such as Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and newly-resigned head of the Pentagon Defense Policy Board Richard Perle. Chalabi also enjoys the support of the heads of most of the Pentagon’s Middle East policy offices such as Peter Rodman, Douglas Feith and Michael Rubin. Perle, a close friend of Chalabi and the architect of the war on Iraq, describes the Iraqi National Congress as “the philosophical voice of free Iraq.”

Considering this backdrop, surely things are bound to change for the better in Iraq.


Chalabi is highly qualified to implement Washington’s plans toward the Middle East but for reasons different from what those still enamored with a mythical conception of a benevolent America expect. In 1989, Ahmed Chalabi fled Jordan where he was tried in absentia by a Jordanian court and sentenced to 22 years of hard labor for embezzlement, fraud and currency trading irregularities. The magnitude of his theft is reportedly over $70 million and Chalabi’s sentence stands to this day.

America’s boy for Baghdad is an estapador and I’m not alone in saying so. Former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia James Akins is even more blunt. “He’s a criminal banker, says Akins bluntly, “He’s a swindler. He’s interested in getting money, and I suspect it’s all gone into his bank accounts and those of his friends.”

Curiously, Entifadh Qanbar, who heads the INC office in Washington, says that Chalabi’s views are representative of Iraq’s “silent majority” who “may not know the man … but he represents their views.” Apparently, Chalabi represents the views as well of an administration that keeps going to bed (embed?) with the likes of Enron and Exxon. Its such a good fit.

Does Washington really think it can successfully install an embezzler who will supposedly inaugurate America’s new fortress of ‘freedom’ in the Middle East? Yes, says the Bush-friendly Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). “[We want] to create the national story that Iraqis liberated themselves … It may have no more truth than the idea that the French liberated themselves in World War II” but, says WINEP, it’s a fiction that will resonate with Iraqis.

Why is the US so keen on pushing Chalabi and the INC? Never mind what the peaceniks say; listen again to the ex-US ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

According to Akins, “What [the Bush government and the INC] have in mind is denationalization, and then parceling Iraqi oil out to American companies.” Adds Akins, “The American oil companies are going to be the main beneficiaries of this war … We take over Iraq, install our regime, produce oil at the maximum rate and tell Saudi Arabia to go to hell.” Maybe Akins is just a disgruntled US diplomat? Maybe not. Listen to James Woolsey, the former director of the CIA and a staunch Chalabi supporter – “One of the reasons we don’t have more democracies in the Middle East is because we have regarded the Middle East as our gas station.”

So many lives, so many Iraqi children destroyed by Imperial America’s attack on Iraq and for what? So that the Iraqi people can choose between Saddam – a murderer once upon a time sponsored by the US – and a US-supported kleptocrat?

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