Friday, March 13, 2009

Iraq's Post-December 1963 History Revisited: Part 4

(See parts 1-3 below)

The history of Iraq is still being influenced by 150,000 U.S. occupation troops and 200,000 private contractors. Yet the mainstream "educational television" stations of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) often appear more eager to broadcast programs about the history of rock music since 1960 than programs about the history of Iraq.

But as Rashid Khalidi observed in the introduction to the 2005 edition of his Resurrecting Empire, "the hubris that allowed Pentagon planners to think that they were somehow immune to the lessons of history produced a grossly mismanaged occupation that has become hated by most Iraqis and has engendered fierce resistance." U.S. anti-war activists, however, may find some knowledge of post-December 1963 Iraqi people's history of use in debating with U.S. opponents of an immediate U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq in 2009.

In April 1969, tension between the U.S.-government-backed Shah of Iran's regime and the Ba'th regime increased when the Shah declared a 1937 Treaty which gave Iraq control of the Shatt-al-Arab border waterway null and void and ordered Iranian troops to march to the Iranian-Iraqi border in large numbers.

During this same year an alliance developed between the anti-communist Ba'th regime and the pro-Soviet German Democratic Republic [GDR] which led the Ba'th regime to temporarily tolerate the Iraq Communist Party until March 1970.

On March 21, 1970, however, the Ba'th regime arrested the surviving Iraq Communist Party leadership and hundreds of surviving Iraq Communist Party members. Two months before--following an unsuccessful January 1970 Shah of Iran-backed right-wing coup attempt in Iraq--the Ba'th regime had hung or shot 29 Iraqi military officers and 12 Iraqi civilians for allegedly being involved in the coup plot.

The post-1968 Ba'th regime apparently combined its policy of domestic political repression with a policy of democratic economic reform The Ba'th regime prohibited the expulsion of Iraqi peasants from their land, further reduced the maximum amount of land a large Iraqi landlord could own and freed Iraqi peasants from previously required tax payments.

The post-1968 Ba'th regime also introduced national health insurance for all Iraqis, mechanized agriculture, created people's markets and reduced middleman exploitation of the Iraqi peasantry. Minimum wages for Iraqi workers and state subsidies for bread were also increased by the Ba'th regime. In addition, price controls that benefited Iraqi consumers and more extensive social security benefits for Iraqis were established by the Ba'th regime. (end of part 4)

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