Going With the Grain

Another alumnus of the U.S. private sector is trying his hand at rebuilding Iraq. And like his peers, the newest hire is being given carte blanche by the Bush administration in advancing U.S. commercial interests.

Dan Amstutz, a former U.S. agricultural employee, will be the new senior ministry adviser in charge of agriculture in Iraq. He has spent the majority of his career lobbying and promoting the interests of big farming. He did the same thing with Cargill, the largest grain exporter in the world, says U.K. relief agency Oxfam, which likened his hiring to “putting Saddam Hussein in the chair of a human-rights commission.”

And as a trade negotiator for former President Ronald Reagan, Amstutz was instrumental in outlining the text of the World Trade Organization’s current Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture. The agreement upset developing countries and pro-development groups by advancing the interests of the world’s rich countries, including the U.S., by permitting them to unload subsidy-backed surpluses on world markets at low prices, forcing out producers in smaller countries.

Critics of the appointment fear Amstutz will re-establish the U.S. ties with the Iraqi market, which, before the Gulf War in 1991, bought 1 million tons of wheat a year from the U.S. Oxfam says the Bush administration should encourage Iraq to rebuild its agricultural sector — the industry that kept its people from starving under 12 years of U.N. sanctions — and not open it up to U.S. farmers.

Who’s next? Donald Trump as the new minister in charge of tourism for Iraq?


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