Paul Bremer - New Canaan's Pontius Pilate
By William A. Collins
Media" -- -- Paul Bremer came to New Canaan
the other night to speak. It is, after all, his old hometown.
Thus, the visit was, first of all, a case of local boy makes
good, which, of course, a lot of New Canaanites do. It was also
the tour kickoff for Bremer’s new book, “My Year In Iraq.” His
listeners well understood book tours, and publishing, and
publicity, and hype.
And colonialism. You’ll recall that President Bush appointed
Bremer as the first head of the Coalition Provisional Authority,
as soon as the military’s mission in Iraq was “accomplished.”
The Romans once called this job “proconsul,” the appointed ruler
of a conquered territory. Their most storied incumbent was
Pontius Pilate, though our grasp of his actual duties and
performance in Judea remain somewhat hazy.
Not so with Bremer’s. His work was precisely laid out in
Washington and he performed it with quiet ferocity. His first
task was to turn over Iraq’s traditional publicly owned
enterprises to foreign investors. He started with electricity.
(In California, this was analogous to deregulation.) Next to go
was the public water supply, and soon the telephone system. New
Canaan can identify with this sort of privatization.
Then came the banks, followed shortly by the insurance
companies, all quickly gobbled up by outside money. Now even
farmers are not allowed to plant their own seeds, but must buy
genetically modified models from Monsanto, Cargill, or the like.
Tariffs, taxes and corporate restrictions were also redrawn for
the benefit of foreign businesses and investors. And not only
were these investor-friendly rules imposed, they were written
into Iraq’s Constitution. Perhaps you wondered why Washington
felt so obsessed with Iraq’s need for a constitutional
democracy. There’s more, and the oil industry comes next.
One doubts that Pilate was so productive. Or the British
governors of the American colonies. This compares more with the
Spanish rulers of Peru or Mexico, or the British Raj in India.
Needless to say, Bremer’s was the kind of performance that New
Canaan could cheer, and did. But there were complications. His
talk was sponsored by the public library, so there were
overtones of free speech. At least until the library detected
that anti-war folks were planning to attend.
That changed everything. Abruptly the venue was shifted to St.
Luke’s private school out in the four-acre zoning wilderness.
Names of known protesters who had signed up early disappeared
from the approved attendance list. The police blanketed the
entrance to keep out dissidents while the Secret Service
patrolled inside. The town takes care of its own.
For those who live outside the Gold Coast, you should know that
lower Fairfield County is not in fact a total monolith of greed.
It only looks that way. Two weeks after the Bremer incident, the
Westport library hosted a talk by Victor Navasky, editor of “The
Nation” magazine. He basically opposes everything Bremer stands
for. No police or Secret Service were needed for that one. And
other libraries are also doing their best to undermine the
frighteningly intrusive rules of the Patriot Act. Thus it seems
to be the New Canaan library alone that stands out as a bulwark
of colonialism and avarice.
Columnist William A. Collins is a former state representative
and a former mayor of Norwalk, Connecticut.
Distributed by MinutemanMedia.org."
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