Last April, human rights journalists and protesters Ewa Jasiewicz and Pennie Quinton forced their way into the Iraq Procurement 2004 conference.

The official conference website announced it would “bring to life the enormous trade and investment potential of Iraq making it the event for any forward thinking business looking to secure contracts, establish trade partnerships and explore the numerous investment opportunities available within the region”.

Jasiewicz and Quinton took disruptive action because they claim the government-approved pillage and privatisation of post-war Iraq by Western big business is illegal. They are not alone in believing such activity is theft.

This protest successfully led to the evacuation and suspension of the conference. Jasiewicz and Quinton were arrested for aggravated trespass.

But recently, the Crown Prosecution Service made the surprising decision to drop charges against them. This decision was seen as politically-motivated. So Jasiewicz and Quinton are opting to take the government and the organisers of the conference to court anyway. Under Section 23 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985, they are entitled to do so.

As if any more proof were needed that “war is a racket” (as Major General Smedley Butler puts it), take a look at this:

Bet On Iraq

I’ve read this page several times and my jaw drops further each time. See what you think.

The site’s tagline is “Because liberty breeds prosperity.” It sets out the case that Americans should buy the Iraqi dinar now, while it is devalued by the destruction of the country, in order to profit later when it is rebuilt to the pattern of American democracy.

The people who set up the site call themselves “freedom loving Americans that believe a liberated, resource rich Iraq can become a force in the world economy”. Read the site and you’ll see just what kind of “freedom” they love.

It says “After years of trade sanctions, and rampant counterfeiting, the Iraqi Dinar has plummeted from its pre-Gulf War value of over USD$3, to mere fractions of one US cent.” No moral position is taken on this. Americans are not asked to reflect on the devastation their country’s actions have wreaked on Iraq, just to keep in mind the possibility of profiting from it.

Or, in their words, ” We simply trust that the seed of freedom, implanted more than a year ago with the fall of Saddam’s regime, has germinated in the hearts of the majority of the Iraqi people. We see this as a wondrous thing, with tremendous possibilities.”

Possibilities for whom? Americans, of course.

The “freedom” the site talks about is the freedom of Western corporations and Western currency speculators to colonise Iraq’s economy. It makes no allowances for the “freedom” of Iraqis to decide how they want their post-Saddam country to work. According to this site, economic prosperity for Iraq equals market capture by Western corporations, offering only a Western-style lifestyle, in a Western-style capitalist democracy. Iraqis apparently have access to no “possibilities” beyond these.

Here is their chilling guide to future markers of prosperity:

“You see people drinking locally bottled, genuine Pepsi Cola; not the ersatz they’d been consuming for years. They are buying their cars from Baghdad Mitsubishi.

Their highly educated engineers, no longer waiting tables or driving cabs, are engineering. The world’s 2nd largest oil reserve is producing more efficiently. Higher quality crops are being harvested, in larger numbers.”

According to this, prosperity will come as a result of Iraq’s own Muslim culture being subdued and Western consumerist culture being imported. Its oil production will presumably be subjected to the sort of “effiency” measures which allow America first rights of access, and price each barrel in dollars, not (Saddam’s preferred) euros. And Iraq’s pre-sanction level of prosperity is edited out of history. The site admits UN sanctions destroyed the economy, hence the devalued dinar, but somehow still fails to join the dots. Saddam’s dictatorship is apparently responsible for all Iraq’s problems, even the problems the international community created.

And where did the “engineers… waiting tables or driving cabs” story come from? Iraq had a thriving professional class before the war, and hopefully some of them will survive it. Are the people behind the Bet On Iraq site assuming nobody in America really knows what Iraqi life was like before US-led wars?

Well, yes they are.

But even if you buy into this myopic, xenophobic “there is no way but our way” belief system, there’s another problem. Aren’t Iraqis fighting to the death to rid their country of the pirates who seek to plunder their resources and crush their society into a mirror image of the West? Isn’t that what the “insurgents” are doing right now?

No, don’t be silly. They’re just trying to clear room for the Fallujah branch of Starbucks. See:

” This is no pipe dream. This is a genuine possibility, with remarkable ramifications. Organizations like Operation Iraqi Children working with the US military, are helping to shape a new generation of freedom loving Iraqis. It won’t be long before these kids take their place in society. They will recall their childhood as the time when powerful Americans released them from the grip of a bloodthirsty madman, and gave them the tools and support to build a peaceful, prosperous society to call their own. Evidence suggests they will run with it.”

May I draw your attention to the use of the phrase “to call their own”? Orwellian doublespeak doesn’t come much purer than that.

In case you were in any doubt, the site also shows a cute picture of an Iraqi girl in a headscarf smiling while holding an American flag aloft. That proves the Iraqi people really don’t mind America and Britain bombing and looting their homeland. Phew, what a relief!

You can order your Iraqi dinars directly through the Bet On Iraq site. Good luck with the whole sleeping at night thing.