From Suzanne Goldenburg of The Guardian (via Tom Engelhardt):
A more substantial assault on Saddam’s legacy is under way in the Republican Palace, where the occupation authority is making preparations to dismantle the food distribution system which gave free rations of flour, rice, cooking oil and other staples to every Iraqi.Described by the UN as the world’s most efficient food network, the system still keeps Iraqis from going hungry. But the US civilian administrator of Iraq, Paul Bremer, views it as a dangerous socialist anachronism. The coalition provisional authority (CPA) is planning to abolish it in January, despite warnings from its own technical experts that this could lead to hunger and riots. (emphasis added)
This is clinical insanity. Bremer is nuts, gonzo, round-the-bend, off his chump. What in god’s name is he doing? Trying to provoke riots? Distributing food to a starving, jobless population is “a dangerous social anachronism?” Certifiable, absolutely.
The signs that Bremer is another neocon fruitcake whose belief system is unhindered by the thought process or any contact with reality on the ground have been building for some time now, though for the most part, you could put them down to good-soldier-loyally-following-his-orders-and-backing-his-commanders behavior if you were feeling generous. OK, so he cut Iraqi businesses out of the loop in their own country so the gigs could go to loyal Publican firms at 10X the price the same job could be done by the home-grown faction; that’s Admin policy to reward big contributors, and maybe he doesn’t have a choice. OK, so he ignored the need for a cel-phone contract for months even though the Iraqi communications people had one ready to sign that would have had the system up and running in a few weeks, and then when he did get around to it, he picked the wrong format, the wrong company, and will probably pay 5X what the Iraqi contract would have cost for cel-phones that the Iraqis won’t be able to use; hey, American troops and Iraqi diplomats were being shot down in the streets of Baghdad every day, and he had more important things to worry about.
But his statements since arriving here have been largely untouched by any reference to the real problems he’s (supposedly) been facing every day. In Bremer’s world, everything in Iraq is just dandy–“Better than we could have hoped.”
Uh-huh. Our hopes must have been mighty low-down, then, considering how badly everything has been going: increasing tension, increasing attacks, increasing disenchantment, decreasing electricity production, oil production, zero jobs, demonstrations in the streets by the jobless, a restive army let loose with nothing to sustain it but anger–the list is longer than I can print.
But does he mention any of this when he comes? Does he include it in his Congressional testimony or acknowledge it on tv?
Nope. Everything is “better than we could have hoped.”
And now he wants to stop the food from getting to the people because in the not-so-brightly-lit closet-thinking of the rabid right, food programs are nothing but welfare programs, and welfare programs, as we all know, are passe: “dangerous social anacronisms” that are probably commie conspiracies to boot.
I don’t have to tell you that this is an extremely dangerous decision practically guaranteed to provoke food riots, anti-American hatred, more attacks on our troops, and possibly famine in the Iraqi population.
If anybody in this Admin was still sane, Bremer would be removed tomorrow. But they aren’t and he won’t be. The best we can hope for is that somebody who has a few brain cells that still talk to each other will put the kibosh on this foolishness before Bremer has a chance to initiate it.
But I’m trying to think of somebody like that in BushCo at this point, and I’m coming up empty. It don’t look good.