Is U.S. Occupation of Iraq Legal?

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The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Is U.S. Occupation of Iraq Legal?

by
John Repp & Mike Yarrow

What is lost in the media attention to the fight between President Bush and the Democratic-controlled Congress over funding the troops in Iraq is the fact that the military occupation of Iraq is illegal. From the early orders of Paul Bremer to the present Bush effort to push an oil law through the Iraqi Parliament, the occupation has attempted to control the political and economic life of Iraq.

According to the treaty of The Hague in 1907, which was ratified by Congress and is the "supreme Law of the Land," an occupying power "shall take all the measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country."

The U.S. invasion started creating the mess as the troops advanced, leaving nuclear facilities and arms depots unguarded. In Baghdad, the interior and oil ministries were well protected but libraries, museums, universities and other ministries were left to be looted. Public order and security gets worse every year.

Bush appointed Paul Bremer administrator of Iraq on May 6, 2003, and in violation of the Hague Convention about "respecting ... the laws in force," the president started issuing orders through Bremer, which imposed his agenda on Iraqis.

Order No. 1 fired 120,000 civil servants who were members of the Baath Party, leaving public functions in disarray.

Order No. 2 fired the 500,000-Iraqi army, many of whom left with their weapons and joined the insurgency.

Order No. 12 suspended all tariffs, customs duties, import taxes and opened Iraq to a flood of cheap foreign goods undermining Iraqi industry.

Order No. 17 provided immunity to Iraqi law for occupying forces and private contractors.

Order No. 39 includes: 1) privatization of state-owned businesses, 2) 100 percent foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses made legal, 3) no preferences or protections for local businesses allowed, and 4) legalization of the unrestricted removal of all profits and other funds from the country by foreign owners.

Order No. 62 allowed Bremer to disqualify candidates for office.

Order No. 94 opened Iraq's banking sector to foreign banks.

Bremer let contracts for reconstruction and other work go to Bush's corporate cronies, leaving Iraqis unemployed. Bremer's orders were left in place even after the new constitution was ratified.

At first, this looks like total incompetence, but it is actually a carefully crafted plan to take control of and loot the Iraqi economy. It has provoked a nationalist opposition, which has lead to the deaths of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

Now as Bush orders more troops into Iraq, his administration is pushing an oil law through the Iraqi Parliament. The law would give U.S. oil companies the ability to develop new oil fields and repatriate all the profits, leaving the Iraqis with a diminished revenue source to rebuild their country. The details of this law are critical to Iraq's future. When the Iraqis became aware of this theft of their oil, it is likely to lead to ever more violence aimed at the illegal U.S. occupation.

John Repp is a member of West Seattle Neighbors for Peace and Justice. Mike Yarrow is a member of Rainier Valley Neighbors for Peace and Justice.

© 2007 The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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