IRAQ FOR SALE – exclusive report by Greg Palast for BBC Newsnight
First Broadcast 19 March 2004
I’ve got about 220 people on this aeroplane with me, so I have a little less than 300 people to drive to Baghdad some time in the near future and begin the post war process in Iraq, I don’t know the degree to which we’ll have a humanitarian crisis, could be a very large one. You could set the oil fields on fire, which would be a huge problem. If they… if the UN didn’t pass out enough food or the Iraqi people sold that food we could go into famine pretty quickly. If we don’t do something about portable water and picking up garbage and that type thing, we can break out in epidemics. If the war lingers and is not quick, then the public servants that run the country now will be dispersed and we will have a hard time getting them back. So I had a lot of… my thoughts were all the problems that we could have.
Voice of Greg Palast, reporting for BBC: One year ago, General Jay Garner flew into the Middle East, as, in effect, America’s first viceroy to oversee a new Iraq – in his back pocket a detailed plan from the Bush Administration.
General Garner: All I can tell you is the plans were pretty elaborate, I mean they didn’t start them in 2002, they were started in 2001. I suspect they were started about the time we began winding down from Afghanistan but I’m not sure.
Behind the programme, Garner described Washington’s long-term vision of Iraq as a political and military base in the Mideast, modeled on America’s control of the Pacific in the 20th Century.
General Garner: We used the Philippines. And the Philippines, for the lack of a better term, it was in essence a coaling station for the navy. And it allowed the US navy to maintain presence in the Pacific. They maintained great presence in the Pacific. I think… it’s a bad analogy, but I think we should look right now at Iraq as our coaling station in the Middle East, where we have some presence there and it gives a settling effect there, and it also gives us a strategic advantage there, and I think we ought to just accept thatIraq and take that for a period of time, as long as the Iraqi people are willing to allow us to be guests in their country.
General Garner: My preference was to put the Iraqis in charge as soon as we can and do it with some form of elections. Now by saying that I don’t criticise what we’re doing right now, what we’re doing right now has a more orderly approach than to what I was espousing at that time, I just thought it was necessary to rapidly get the Iraqis in charge of their destiny with our firm hand over them, guiding them and helping them and that type of thing.
The White House did not appreciate Garner’s own resistance to their plans. After only three weeks on the ground, he was told to leave. Was this a humiliating dismissal?
[soldiers patrolling the streets.]
Greg Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Subscribe to his writings for Britain’s Observer and Guardian newspapers, and view his investigative reports for BBC Television’s Newsnight, at www.GregPalast.com.
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