09 September 2007

The Great Iraq Swindle

Are you among those who thought that the war in Iraq was about the oil? Well, think again. Rolling Stone has an article that defies credulity concerning the degree to which corruption and war-profiteering has looted the US treasury and lined the pockets of countless fraud artists.
What the Bush administration has created in Iraq is a sort of paradise of perverted capitalism, where revenues are forcibly extracted from the customer by the state, and obscene profits are handed out not by the market but by an unaccountable government bureauc­racy. This is the triumphant culmination of two centuries of flawed white-people thinking, a preposterous mix of authoritarian socialism and laissez-faire profit­eering, with all the worst aspects of both ideologies rolled up into one pointless, supremely idiotic military adventure -- American men and women dying by the thousands, so that Karl Marx and Adam Smith can blow each other in a Middle Eastern glory hole.
The article describes the waste in both matériel and people created by cascading cost-plus contracts, the outright theft of equipment and cash, and US provisioning of arms to the enemy. It details how government whistle-blowers are systematically punished for calling attention to these crimes, and how the Bush administration deliberately intervenes to prevent lawsuits against war profiteers from proceeding, and any judgments that manage to be entered from being enforced. It describes how contractors regularly break the law, including the laws that mandate medical insurance for their employees in a war zone, resulting in men crippled for life who now face medical bills totalling nearly a half million dollars, who cannot even afford painkillers. And perhaps most tragic of all is the extent of the moral decay that has permeated the heart of that which is invoked in the name of patriotism.
What happened in Iraq went beyond inefficiency, beyond fraud even. This was about the business of government being corrupted by the profit motive to such an extraordinary degree that now we all have to wonder how we will ever be able to depend on the state to do its job in the future. If catastrophic failure is worth billions, where's the incentive to deliver success? There's no profit in patriotism, no cost-plus angle on common decency. Sixty years after America liberated Europe, those are just words, and words don't pay the bills.
When President Bush talks about surges and staying the course, it is now very clear which course he wants to stay.

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2 comments:

Joan Vinall-Cox said...

Take a look at this trailer for a film by Alfonso Cuaron and Naomi Klein called The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kieyjfZDUIc .

imsmall said...

POSTERITY OBSERVES THE CHURCH

"Profit itself is not sufficient
Motivation for business
Endeavors"--words, if not omniscient,
Merely, without moroseness
Expressing Christian creed, by Pope
John Paul the Second, not a dope.

So why the Roman Catholic
Church has long hesitated
To have--in midst of profits thick--
One excommunicated
With so much taint upon his hands
As Erik Prince, prince of brigands?

The Church acknowledges the war,
The profiteering in Iraq
As wrong; so tell me why, so far
The condemnation seems to lack
Traction in realm of moral spheres--
Is there a basis to have fears?

The taint will linger on the hands
Of Roman Catholics everywhere
Almost unto the Christ, while bands
Of brigands go scott free and clear.