by Eric Margolis
The White House's Iraq fib factory went into overdrive last week, ballyhooing claims that the new "caretaker government" the UN had supposedly just installed in Baghdad was "fully sovereign" and "totally independent."
We would like to believe American president George Bush. But this latest claim comes from the same truth-deficient people who concocted Iraq's imminent threat to destroy the U.S. with nuclear and germ weapons, Saddam Hussein's vans and drones of death, Saddam's tryst with Osama bin Laden, and a slew of other preposterous whoppers that would have made the Nazis' propagandist, Dr. Joseph Goebbels, blush deep crimson.
The latest U.S.-authored regime change in Iraq was a political charade designed to soothe uneasy American voters who are increasingly alarmed by the aimlessness, mounting casualties and $186-billion US cost -- as much as the Vietnam War at its height-- of the Iraq misadventure.
The White House dreads the oncoming national uproar when the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq hits 1,000. It desperately needs to show some light at the end of the Iraq tunnel before November's elections.
So it arm-twisted the UN's weak secretary general, Kofi Annan, into allowing his organization to be crudely misused to legitimize continuing U.S.-British occupation of Iraq by supposedly selecting candidates for the new "sovereign" regime.
In the end, Washington chose its own men and simply ignored the UN after it provided the required fig leaf.
The result: Iraq's new regime, installed under the guns of U.S. tanks, makes the former Soviet Union's Eastern European satellite states look like paragons of unfettered independence.
Off-the-shelf CIA "asset" Iyad Allawi was made strongman/prime minister -- just like Afghanistan's U.S.-installed figurehead Hamid Karzai, another CIA stock item. Iraq's defence and interior ministries will also be run by other U.S. "assets." Some 160 senior American "advisers" will supervise all key ministries, notably defence, police, finance, communications and a new, CIA-trained secret police.
All the U.S. billions presently funding Iraq, and overall control of oil revenues, will be managed by a special U.S. "advisory and monitoring board."
France once ran its nominally independent West African colonies in a similar manner.