What's Left

March 31, 2003

Raytheon destroys it, Bechtel rebuilds it, stolen oil pays for it

By Stephen Gowans

Over ninety percent of Spaniards are against the US war on Iraq.1 Nearly 80 percent of Japanese are opposed.2 In Turkey, they pelt US soldiers with stones and eggs.3

Unlike their people, the governments of Spain and Japan back Washington's war on Iraq.

Turkey's leaders would like to help.

Spain, Japan and Turkey are called democracies.

The people don't rule. But if they don't, who, or what, does?

***

He's a Canadian who sells to Americans. His customers phone him up, angry.

"Why aren't you people supporting us?"

"What people?"

"You people. You Canadians."

"Well, some Canadians support the war. Some don't."

"I mean your government. Why doesn't it support us?"

"I don't know, you'd have to ask them."

"Well, you people should get on their asses."

"Do you think it would make any difference?"

"I sure do."

"Did your government ask you if you wanted a war with Iraq?"

"No, of course not."

***

Before the war, Richard Perle offered advise to Goldman Sachs' clients on investment opportunities. His talk was titled 'Implications of an Imminent War: Iraq Now. North Korea Next?'"4

Richard Perle is teeming with advise.

In 1998, he said that ousting Saddam Hussein needed to "become the aim of American foreign policy."5

Four year later, ousting Saddam Hussein is the aim of American foreign policy.

But then, four years later, Perle was Washington.

***

In 1998, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Armitage gave the same advise.

They too are now Washington.

***

Perle, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Armitage like war. They enthusiastically backed the Vietnam war. So did George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Tom DeLay, John Ashcroft, and Lewis Libby.6

None of them actually served in the Vietnam war.

They were managing their investment portfolios.

They still are.

***

War has a way of exposing the emptiness of words.

"We are a peaceful nation," says Bush. "We are preserving the peace."

In China, the leadership prepares for a confrontation it knows Washington will provoke.7  Relations with Russia turn frosty.  North Korea says, "If you think we're making the same mistake as Iraq by disarming, you're crazy."8

This is peace.

***

A protester's sign: "Bombing for peace is like fucking for virginity."

Bush doesn't mind bombing. He doesn't like the word "fucking," though. It's dirty.

***

This is a war of liberation, says Bush.

Britain's General Stanley Maude told the people of Baghdad the same thing in 1917.

"Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors, but as liberators."9

They didn't believe Maude either.

***

The reporter wrote, "I've covered many wars before -- Afghanistan, Somalia, Chechnya, Kosovo and others -- and never before have I felt as much hostility and volatility from civilians as I've sensed in Iraq."10

The wounded American GI said, "We were told when we were going into Nasiriyah that we should look to see little or no resistance. Then when we got in there, it was a whole different ball game."11

Who told them this? Perle, for one.

***

From hubris fools are born.

On the eve of the war he pushed for, Richard Perle predicted, "Support for Saddam, including within his military organization, will collapse at the first whiff of gunpowder."12

Support for Saddam has grown.

The White House hired a star of Madison Avenue to head up an agency to win the hearts and minds of the Arab people. She knew the ship wouldn't float, so she bailed out before the war started.

She was right. Arabs hate Washington worse than ever.

War and propaganda were supposed to be what Americans did well.

Apparently not.

***

We. Who is "we"?

Senator Richard Lugar said, "As part of our plan for Iraq...we're going to run the oil business...we're going to run it well, we're going to make money, and it's going to help pay for the rehabilitation of Iraq." 13

He said that in August, when Washington was talking about making Saddam jump through hoops, expecting him to stumble.

He didn't stumble. So they said Saddam has ties to bin Laden.

Saddam has no ties to bin Laden. The Bush family does, though.

***

When Lugar said "we" will make money, did he include Monica, who works nights at Wendy's, or Kevin, a Marine at Nasiriyah?

He includes them in "we" when he says "we" have to fight and "we" have to close ranks around the president and "we" will prevail.

But does he include them when he says "we" will make money off of Iraq's oil?

***

Kellog, Brown and Root have already won a 10-year contract to "mitigate and prevent" oil fires in Iraq. They won it before the first shot was fired.14

The company is a subsidiary of Halliburton.

Halliburton is Dick Cheney's former company.

Cheney's still being paid by Halliburton.15

***

Top US defense contractors, 2001, according to www.govexec.com:

1. Lockheed Martin (manufacturer of the PAC-3 missile), 2. Boeing (Apache helicopters), 3. Northrop Grumman Corp., 4. Raytheon (Tomahawk and cruise missiles), 5. General Dynamics Corp., 6. United Technologies Corp., 7. TRW, 8. SAIC, 9. General Electric, 10. Carlyle Group (papa Bush's company, and formerly, the bin Laden's.)

Do the owners and executives of these companies go to anti-war rallies?

***

The Pentagon has asked KBR, Fluor, Bechtel, Louis Berger, and Parsons to bid on a $900 million contract to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure.16  That's just the beginning of billions of dollars in contracts.

Business Week says, "Outfits such as Halliburton and Baker Hughes, as well as construction giant Bechtel Group, could feel just as victorious as the US Special Forces troops."17

***

The charmed circle of American capitalism.

Raytheon's Tomahawk and cruise missiles destroy it. Bechtel's construction equipment rebuilds it. Stolen oil pays for it.

Kevin, the Marine, who risks his life to steal the oil, makes it possible.

Monica, who works nights at Wendy's, helps pay for it.

Richard Perle shows well-heeled clients how to get rich off it.

War is good business.

Unless you're Monica or Kevin.

Unless you live in Iraq.

***

If the people don't rule, who, or what, does?

***

1. "Aznar faces 91% opposition to war," The Guardian, March 29, 2003.
2. "80% oppose Iraq war: poll," Japan Today, March 30, 2003.
3. "Turks shower U.S. soldiers with eggs, stones," Reuters, March 29, 2003.
4. "Pre-emption: Idea With a Lineage Whose Time Has Come," The New York Times, March 23, 2003.
5. Ibid.
6. Stephen R. Shalom, "Iraq War Quiz," www.zmag.com, March 26, 2003, New Hampshire Gazette, "The Chickenhawks," http://nhgazette.com/chickenhawks.htmlhttp://nhgazette.com/chickenhawks.html.
7. "After Iraq, US may turn to China: Analysts," HindustanTimes.com, Press Trust of India, March 26, 2003.
8. "North Korea vows to make no concessions," Agence France-Presse, March 29, 2003.
9. "Welcome to Iraqland, or not," The Globe and Mail, March 28, 2003.
10. "Hearts and minds remain suspcious," The Globe and Mail, March 31, 2003.
11. "Iraqis honing age-old strategy," The Globe and Mail, March 28, 2003.
12. "US war plan takes withering fire," The Globe and Mail, March 31, 2003.
13. "Make Iraq pay for war, U.S. senator says," Globe and Mail, 2 August 2002.
14. "Profiting from a liberated Iraq," People's Weekly World Newspaper,  Mar 29, 2003.
15. Stephen R. Shalom, "Iraq War Quiz," www.zmag.com, March 26, 2003, " Ousting Hussein could open the door for U.S. and British firms. French, Russian and Chinese rivals would lose their edge," Los Angeles Times, March 12, 2003.
16. "Profiting from a liberated Iraq," People's Weekly World Newspaper,  Mar 29, 2003.
17. "It's not 'all about oil,' but..." Business Week Online, January 30, 2003.

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What's Left