Is Iraq Sovereign?
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor
To be sovereign means to have no earthly authority above one. The handover of authority to the new government of Iraq on June 28 provides a semblance of sovereignty for the new chiefs of state. It was a smart move to hand over power two days early, along with the transfer of the former president to Iraqi jurisdiction. But the Iraqi people are not yet sovereign. Without a democracy, they see a governing authority selected by the occupation, even if it did have a United Nations imprimatur. In effect sovereignty is shared among the Iraqi governing chiefs, the U.S. government, and the U.N.
Not until the Iraqi people can choose their governing representatives will the Iraqis truly be sovereign. The U.S. government had over a year to establish a democracy, but it chose not to do so. An opportunity to establish true sovereignty for the Iraqis was squandered.
Elections are planned for early 2005, but they could be postponed if the violence continues, which is quite likely. The election process will have been set by the occupation-appointed chiefs, so even an elected government will be suspect, since it will be elected according to the rules set by the foreign occupiers. He who sets the agenda greatly determines the outcome.
The rebels regard the new government as American puppets. There is a vicious circle of violence in Iraq. The rebels attack the foreign military and the appointed government officials, which then provides a rationale for the troops to remain to provide security. The only way to stop the violence is to provide Iraqis with true sovereignty, the sovereignty of each individual person. Authority would then be delegated bottom-up instead of being imposed top-down.
Indeed, violence against the American troops continues, and the governing chiefs are under constant threat of assassination. The terrorist rebels, whether religious supremacists or loyalists of the previous regime, are anti-democratic forces, and should be called so. But the occupation was also anti-democratic. The wise policy now would be to declare all Iraqis as individually sovereign and then hold local elections for village and neighborhood councils, which would have real sovereign power delegated by the people. Any violence against these councils would be violence against Iraqi sovereignty rather than collateral damage.
The new government should also repeal the income tax that was imposed by the occupation. The U.S. government brags that the Iraqi income tax was a flat rate of only 15 percent. But if enforced, the excess burden will be more than the tax collected. What kind of record keeping and police enforcement will they have to erect? This expense is utterly unnecessary.
The new Iraqi government should declare a flat rate income tax of zero, and also no sales tax. They have vast oil reserves for revenue, which would be tapped if peace were to prevail, if the oil was declared the property of all Iraqis under democratic rule. Local government can be amply financed by tapping the land values. A tax-free economic environment for labor and enterprise would attract investment from around the world and create a high growth rate.
The policy needed for Iraq now is to establish grass-roots democracy and a free-market economy. That will eliminate local support for the anti-democratic rebels. True sovereignty for any people consists of individual liberty, an equal sharing of the natural resources, and government by the people. This formula is ancient and well known. Any government which does not implement this is deliberately denying true sovereignty to the people.
-- Fred Foldvary
Copyright 2004 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.
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