Professor Juan Cole delivered a lecture in February entitled “Collective Action in American Iraq: Can the People Thwart Empire?” Attempting to cover the event, the Daily article (Cole discusses role of militants in Iraq, 02/19/09) failed to address some of Cole’s more pertinent points. For those that missed out and want to know, here they are.

First, Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, issued his 100 Orders, or “Bremer Plan,” in 2003. It mandated the privatization of Iraq’s 200 state-owned oil reserves and protection for foreign investors and contractors. It also called for the “de-Baathification” of the Iraqi government in favor of a secular one. Unfortunately for the Bush administration, these orders did not go according to plan.

Second, part of U.S. strategy in the Middle East, Cole argued, was a continuation of Cold War policies — namely, the conversion of some of the world’s last socialist strongholds into U.S. friendly markets. With the Soviet Union out of play, the Bush administrations figured they would give global domination another go.

Third, only 14 percent of Iraqis actively supported resistance against American troops in 2003; by 2006, 75 percent wanted to kill U.S. troops.

Fourth, while Obama’s “instincts are good” when it comes to Iraq and imperialism in general, he is “tone-deaf” when it comes to Afghanistan. Cole’s closing point presented a nice summary of his argument: There is generally a battle between social and diplomatic history. In Iraq, social history won.

David Bennett
LSA junior

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