From John Judis, currently operating out of Talking Points Memo:
Bremer’s economic program wasn’t confined to selling off state enterprises. Bremer saw privatization as part of the broader conservative economic agenda that Reagan had endorsed in the 1980s. It would include supply-side tax cuts and elimination of import duties. And he proceeded to get his way. In September 2003–against the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention that require occupying powers to respect existing laws–Bremer got the Iraqi Governing Council to issue an order privatizing state companies and abrogating Iraqi laws that prohibited private ownership of “national” resources and the “basic means of production.” Later, he also got his way on taxes and import duties.
Making Iraq into a little conservative paradise. Failing completely to understand what the state is, what it does, or what it needs, but making it legally safe for American investors. And hey, I bet that whatever new regime comes to power will have similar views to American conservatives on gay rights, women’s rights, abortion, and dissent as well. . .
Some privatization of Iraqi industries is probably a good thing. I have my doubts about the oil industry, because I imagine that we’ll see something similar to the experience in Russia, only worse; instead of oligarchs, we’ll get foreign investors. But re-writing the tax code with the intention of minimizing Iraqi state revenue might prove a bit problematic. The libertarian informed conservatism now in place only understands government as a problem, never as a solution. This stance is particular disastrous in areas like Iraq and Afghanistan, where the state can’t provide basic security or infrastructure. State power and economic regulation aren’t impediments to capitalism; they’re absolutely necessary to its smooth function.