Naomi Klein

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The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

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Bush to NGOs: Watch Your Mouths

The Bush administration has found its next target for pre-emptive war, but it's not Iran, Syria or North Korea — not yet, anyway.

Before launching any new foreign adventures, the Bush gang has some homeland housekeeping to take care of: It is going to sweep up those pesky non-governmental organizations that are helping to turn world opinion against US bombs and brands.

The war on NGOs is being fought on two clear fronts. One buys the silence and complicity of mainstream humanitarian and religious groups by offering lucrative reconstruction contracts. The other marginalizes and criminalizes more independent-minded NGOs by claiming that their work is a threat to democracy. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is in charge of handing out the carrots, while the American Enterprise Institute, the most powerful think tank in Washington, D.C., is wielding the sticks.

Downsizing in Disguise

The streets of Baghdad are a swamp of uncollected garbage and crime.

Battered local businesses are going bankrupt, unable to compete with cheap imports. Unemployment is soaring and thousands of laid off state workers are protesting in the streets.

In other words, Iraq looks like every other country that has undergone rapid fire "structural adjustments" prescribed by Washington, from Russia's infamous "shock therapy" in the early nineties to Argentina's disastrous "surgery without aesthetic" a few years later. Except that Iraq's so-called reconstruction makes those wrenching reforms look like spa treatments.

Paul Bremer, the U.S. appointed governor of Iraq, has already proved something of a flop in the democracy department in his three weeks there, nixing plans for Iraqis to select their own interim government in favour of his own handpicked team of advisors. But Bremer has proved to have something of a gift when it comes to rolling out the red carpet for U.S. multinationals. No wonder George Bush looked so pleased when he met Bremer in Qatar.

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