Economic Spoils of War

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If you really want to understand the war on Iraq and the dissonance between the public and our government, just follow the money trail. Since Bush came into office, a projected government budget surplus of 5 trillion over 10 years changed to projected deficit of 5 trillion. If Bush manages to push tax cuts through, our economy will be further devastated. Yes, some of the extra money needed for wars will come from increased deficits, but also will come by having to cut other programs like social services and healthcare. There are enough pieces of military contracts in enough congressional districts guaranteeing a continuation of this pork barrel system. In Connecticut, Sikorsky Helicopters ensures that elected officials not rock the ship of death. Special interests ensure that the couple of thousand highly paid jobs at Sikorsky are more relevant to reelection campaigns of Senators Lieberman and Dodd than budget deficits and layoffs in the thousands of state employees.

What will happen in Iraq? According to the Washington Post, the US government has suspended its usual procedures of open bids to solicit emergency bids from select US companies for post-war Iraq development. The companies solicited for the “initial” $900 million in contracts include Haliburton, run until 2000 by none other than VP Dick Cheney. But Iraq has estimated oil reserves valued not in millions or billions but trillions. Iraq also has a rich landscape for agriculture and an educated population that can provide excellent cheap labor to rich and powerful multinational corporations. The possibilities are endless for making money under a pliable government controlled by new rulers of the “New American Century” but not concerned for the environment or for livable wages.

Richard Perle, the chief advocate for a war on Iraq, was chair of the committee that in 1996 presented a study to the Israeli Prime Minister titled “Securing the realm” and calling for regime change in Iraq and redrawing the geopolitical map. Perle is now chair of the Defense Advisory Board, an unelected group of neoconservatives (many of them previous or current lobbyists for Israel) that wields significant influence on US policy. Yet, Perle is also founder and chief benefactor of a little known company called Tritreme. Tritreme foresees unlimited “business opportunities” for its “security business” as terrorism will become the biggest threat to countries and individuals.

But what if the US really will establish a democracy in Iraq, give its natural resources to its people, and set in motion a wave of democracy in the Middle East? If you believe this, please contact me as I have a bridge to sell you. How many of the 50 countries we bombed since the end of WWII is now a functioning democracy? Further how many elected democracies did we topple since the CIA toppled the Mosaddak secular democracy in Iran to reinstall the brutal kingdom of the Shah in 1956? Our latest was the bombing of Afghanistan killing 3000-5000 civilians to leave a ravaged country run by warlords. Our puppet Karzai is not a “president” of a “liberated” or “democratic” Afghanistan. He is not even a legitimate Mayor of Kabul as he is able to leave his palace only thanks to his US bodyguards. Torture and corruption are rampant and, while women can go to school, there will be no jobs for men or women. Our major accomplishment was revealed a couple of months ago when American companies signed the deal to build the gas pipeline from Kazakhstan to the gulf via Afghanistan and Pakistan, a project that will generate billions in corporate profiut. Had the Taliban signed this contract earlier, they would still be in power with or without Bin Laden. Talking about Osama, has any one noticed that all his captured top lieutenants were captured by classic police work (not by the so-called war on terrorism).

Our government’s refusal to support the International Criminal Court and its dogged support of Israeli apartheid and hegemony over the Arab world all add fuel to this fire. Why would the world believe our complaint about an upcoming veto by France or Russia when the US vetoed the most UN resolutions. Even if we look at resolutions passed and not vetoed, Israel is in material breach of over 70 UN Security Council resolutions. Why is the media in the US not talking about the hypocricy of the US foreign policy? Again, the answer is money. Ten mega-corporations own 95% of our media outlets making millions for their CEOs and many of them (like GE, owner of NBC) also do a lot of the military contracts.

The only obstacle left between humanity and a world of corporate greed and police states sustained by fear remains the tens of millions of people protesting. Their growth and their actions are beginning to get louder against globalization and against war. Stay tuned.

(Dr. Mazin B. Qumsiyeh is Chair of the Media Committee, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition.)

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