Iraq the colony: America’s new real estate market
One clan of my Irish ancestors were rebels. The other, were loyal servants of the crown. That’s how the British Empire was viewed by many Celts from Ireland to Ulster to Scotland and Wales, at once a menacing force and on the other hand, a source of great opportunity.
Empires may seem all powerful on the outside, but in reality they need lots of help. Somebody in the home country has to be willing to drop everything and leave their homes and their families behind to head off to the colony or conquered land. Someone has to garrison it, someone has to be the administrator, someone has to be the judge and someone has to be the customs official. When the flag is planted far beyond the homeland’s shore, someone has to raise and lower it every day.
As the U.S. has planted its flag in every corner of the world since World War II, so Americans have followed in its wake, from military bases to multi-national corporations to the Peace Corps. And if it’s true that, as one Bush II Administration official said in a magazine article “we’re an empire now,” then flag planting is going to cover the surface of the Earth just as it did with the British. And when that happens, the colonies usually follow.
Colonization has always served a variety of interests for the home country. It’s a way of getting rid of malcontents and dissenters, as Massachusetts Bay was as a dumping ground for Puritans during the time of the Stuarts. It’s a way of providing economic resources back the home country whether gold or sugar or spice. It’s a way to transfer a part of the surplus population as many French took up the offer to settle in Algeria and Russian retirees settled in Latvia. It’s a way of spreading the culture and gospel of the home world to the heathen world. All sorts of interests and pressures develop for colonization.
Those same pressures are there in Iraq as well. Companies like Halliburton and Bechtel are following in the footsteps of the Dutch East India Company and Northwest Fur by reaping billions trying to rebuild Iraq back to habitable. Oil, like tobacco, is a colonial staple for the mother country and manufactured goods like cars and DVD players make their way back. And persons back in the states are willing to risk the dangers of living in Iraq working as security guards and contractors the way colonists braved the frontier. Of course, these new colonists are getting paid a pretty penny to do so unlike those indentured servants who came over from England and filled the backwoods of the Appalachians.
“Our policy is to make Iraq into a colony,” a source close to the U.S. military told writer Robert Dreyfuss in an article in the recent edition of Rolling Stone (“The Quagmire: As the Iraq war drags on, it’s beginning to look a lot like Vietnam.”) “We won’t let it go.” If that’s the case the “source” better bring his family to Iraq the way 18th century military officers brought their wives and children on campaign with them, because he’s not coming home. If the U.S. is to turn Iraq into a colony, then it’s going to be a long time gone for many U.S. citizens, soldiers and security guards alike.
But if we’re an empire now maybe that’s just the point. Although Iraq does have a “native” government recently elected, they’ll be no different than the British raj that ruled India, a native elite that serves U.S. interests and whose status rest upon those interests. And really, when did native considerations ever play a part in colonial development? It certainly didn’t with the Indians or the Berbers. The only question really is, are there those like my Irish ancestors loyal to the crown willing to serve the empire in such a God forsaken place?
Perhaps there are. Many are already there now doing their bit to try and rebuild the country and provide security whether working for the U.S. Embassy (and formerly the CPA) and corporations. If they have to stay long enough to get the job done perhaps they’ll bring their families as was mentioned before. If things improve and the insurgency is eventually quelled then more maybe will follow. There will certainly be those Christian missionaries looking to covert the heathen Muslims to heathen dispensationalism. Wildcatters looking to make it rich in Iraqi oil will soon follow. Other businessmen smelling opportunity in this new oasis of western capitalism will come if it’s safe to be along side the mercenaries training the Iraqi army and being body guards for leading politicians. Humanitarians and do-gooders will see their opportunities to try and bond with the Iraqi people. And if there are those U.S. citizens who find their gated communities either too boring or soon to be overrun with immigrants, they can always set up such communities on the Tigris River. After all, if man can find ways to turn the desert into suburban sprawl in Phoenix and Las Vegas, why not Baghdad or Ramadi? All you need are a few dams and some casinos and you’ve rebuilt paradise. Samara could very well be the hot new real estate market in five years when the bubble in our own market has burst.
Yes indeed, Iraq may very well become the “New America” that many saw in the “Old America” when it was once called “New England.”
“Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.”