Post Classifieds

U.S. businesses true beneficiaries of war in Iraq

By Salmun Kazerounian
On September 5, 2003

As American casualties continue to accumulate following the dethroning of former US strategic ally and foul dictator Saddam Hussein, the privatization of Iraq for elite business interests steadily moves forward.

Whether achieved through classically colonialist means, as in this particular occupation, carried out through covert military operations and in support of regimes (however benign or destructive) friendly to American industry, or implemented with neo-liberal expansionist policies, as set forth by the likes of the WTO, World Bank and IMF, the United States government has consistently pursued its selfish financial ends at the expense of innumerable peoples around the globe. While we enjoy the domestic comfort and liberties provided, with limitations, to us by our elected officials past and present, it is essential to examine what agenda those same officials consistently force upon our often-neglected co-habitants of this planet.

Although mass media generally chooses to ignore and often cover-up the callous results of US imperialism, information regarding its myriad of diverse examples is widely available, often in the form of federal documents declassified under the Freedom of Information Act. Take, for instance, the arming of Saddam throughout the 1980s as he waged his aggressive war on Iran. Ignore, for the moment, the covert arms sale to the Iranians during the same conflict that funded the contras' brutal repression of the insurgency in Nicaragua. Many Reagan apologists will deny the existence of such an arms exchange. However, State Department documents from the era explicitly spell out America's role. A thorough compilation of these documents can be found at George Washington University's National Security Archive:

If one visits this site, as is highly recommended, one will initially be met with a picture of our current Secretary of Defense and former special envoy of President Reagan, Donald Rumsfeld, shaking hands with the recently deposed Saddam Hussein in 1983. A total of 61 documents, some declassified government documents and others court cases, describe our support of a brutal dictator before, during and after the height of his crimes against humanity. Ranging from Rumsfeld's desire "to initiate a dialogue and establish personal rapport" with Saddam Hussein (Document 29) to knowledge of his chemical and possible nuclear programs as early as 1984 after which we continued to arm him for years to come (Document 58) to actually providing him with dual-use technology for his nuclear program (Document 57), it is impossible to deny the role of our officials, many of which are in power still to this day, in building up the military of someone who has never used it with humane caution.

This begs the question, why would we do this? Why would we support someone who allows his people no civil liberties and not only possesses weapons of mass destruction, but has actually used them and later use those very points as justification for his removal after a decade of our support followed by a decade of our politically ineffective and socially destructive sanctions? The answer is fairly simple: at the time, Iran was a larger enemy of the United States and a threat to oil transportation routes and Iraq was to fight our war for us. Justification? Perhaps, when analyzed within the sphere of economic strategy, ignoring its inevitable repercussions on the population of the region. If the conflict is traced even further back, one finds that Iran was governed by a functional democracy between 1951 and 1953, under democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh. A New York Times special report, published on April 16, 2000, delineates the events of and reasons for CIA-led coup that deposed Mossadegh's rule and re-instated the Shah (a monarch, need I say more?) in order to maintain British and American dominion over Iran's oil resources, which Mossadegh nationalized for the benefit of the people to whom it rightfully belonged. Understandably, this led to the Islamic Revolution of 1979, which was filled with anger at America, justified anger, as we replaced their democratic system with an autocratic one. This new threat in the Middle East had to be countered somehow, so the obvious solution for an administration without respect for humanity was to give guns to a neighboring fascist. So, the 1953 U.S.-led regime change in Iran led to a) the presence of an unfathomably atrocious Islamic fundamentalist regime in Iran that still exists; b) alliance with an "evil-doer" in Baghdad who perpetrated a merciless war and gassed the Kurds; c) two wars with Iraq which are still taking the lives of American soldiers (and even more Iraqis). Regime change, anyone?

So, Reagan's former Secretary of State, George Schultz, currently a senior adviser to Donald Rumsfeld and a member of the Board of Directors of the Bechtel Corporation, is much better off now than he was before the recent occupation. Bechtel was awarded a $680 million contract to reconstruct Iraq after our bombs. Not surprisingly, and highly conveniently, George Schultz was the chairman of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which was committed to the profitable reconstruction of Iraq's economy in addition to political regime change, according to an April 21 article in the New York Times entitled "What is it Good For?" A subsidiary (Kellogg Root & Brown) of Dick Cheney's Halliburton, from which he continues to receive retirement penchants, received a similar half-billion dollar contract for the rebuilding of Iraq's oil facilities without the standard bidding process, as widely reported. Former President George Bush Sr. works as an adviser to the Carlyle Group, an umbrella company (with close ties, for a time, the Saudi Bin Laden Corporation) for a number of defense and oil contractors. This company effectively armed the US military for the war and has been contracted to assist in the reconstruction efforts. To say that the policy makers did not take into account personal profit margin when weighing options would be a travesty to logic and counter to a myriad of evidence.

Iraq is by no means the only example of this, and similar ends are sought frequently by Democratic administrations.

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