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August 24, 2007

War For Profit

-- by Dave Johnson

Wanna get angry? I mean really, really angry? I just finished reading The Great Iraq Swindle: : Rolling Stone and I am really, REALLY angry now.

Iraq was the big test of the Republican vision of a privatized, outsourced government. But what it really was, was billions and billions of taxpayer dollars just handed to Republican-crony contractors - to do nothing or worse.

George W. Bush's war in the Mesopotamian desert was an experiment of sorts, a crude first take at his vision of a fully privatized American government. In Iraq the lines between essential government services and for-profit enterprises have been blurred to the point of absurdity -- to the point where wounded soldiers have to pay retail prices for fresh underwear, where modern-day chattel are imported from the Third World at slave wages to peel the potatoes we once assigned to grunts in KP, where private companies are guaranteed huge profits no matter how badly they fuck things up.

... 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.

Read this story. It talks about the environment in which everyone understood that the gates to the US Treasury were open, and the party was on, and the best part was the government expected you to steal, wanted you to steal, encouraged you to steal - because that was what the war was for.

The Bush administration's lack of interest in recovering stolen funds is one of the great scandals of the war. The White House has failed to litigate a single case against a contractor under the False Claims Act and has not sued anybody for breach of contract. It even declined to join in a lawsuit filed by whistle-blowers who are accusing KBR of improper invoicing in Fallujah.

And then anyone who tries to do anything about it is fired and blacklisted - or worse. Worse, as in forced out of the protected, guarded areas and on your own among the insurgents.


What's more, when anyone in the government tried to question what contractors were up to with taxpayer money, they were immediately blackballed and treated like an enemy.

[. . .] And how did her superiors in the Pentagon respond to the wrongdoing highlighted by their own chief procurement officer? First they gave KBR a waiver for the overbilling, blaming the problem on an Iraqi subcontractor. Then they dealt with Greenhouse by demoting her and cutting her salary, citing a negative performance review. The retaliation sent a clear message to any would-be whistle-blowers. "It puts a chill on you," Greenhouse says. "People are scared stiff."

They were scared stiff in Iraq, too, and for good reason. When civilian employees complained about looting or other improprieties, contractors sometimes threatened to throw them outside the gates of their bases -- a life-threatening situation for any American.

Go read it.

Posted by Dave Johnson at August 24, 2007 2:41 PM

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Comments

You should be mad as Hell. And it ain't just in Iraq that this is happening. We've got our own little scandal coming to light here in NYC with the Deutsche Bank building fire at Ground Zero. This skyscraper was so badly damaged by the fall of the twin towers that it must be torn down. Keeping in mind that this damage occurred 6 years ago, why hasn't it been? Because it seems that some 14 Federal government agencies got involved, contractors were hired by them, who then hired subcontractors, the usual shady incompetent kind of deals. So last week two firemen were killed and others hurt, and then this week two more firemen were injured by falling equipment, one very seriously, no end in sight to this, probably ever.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 24, 2007 8:17 PM

Now that you have arrived at the first truth of politics--the purpose to warfare--you should prepare yourselves to move further into the study of the way mankind runs its affairs.

Quit complaining about your hurt feelings and start fighting back against the monsters who make the rules we all obey as good little citizens.

The propaganda they spew is easy enough to spot: just read The Prince by Macchiavelli and War is a Racket by General Smedley Butler (his real name, and one of the most decorated Marines in our history).

A more general overview can be found in Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan in which he wrote that man's life is nasty, poor, brutish, and short.

Read up on the Robber Barons, the Dust Bowl, and any history by Howard Zinn. Then dedicate a week or two to reading the daily posts at the World Socialist Web Site.

Most of all, jettison all the crap you've been taught about freedom, democracy, equality, and the American Way of Life. These are fine goals to shoot for, but don't confuse this stuff with history or the nature of American reality.

George Bush and his monstrous cronies have done America a favor; if you are willing, you can simply take a cold look at his values (not his speeches) and his family's values. There you will find all you need to know about the nature of mankind when left unfettered by conscience and law.

Posted by: Jon Koppenhoefer [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 1, 2007 11:25 AM

Now that you have arrived at the first truth of politics--the purpose to warfare--you should prepare yourselves to move further into the study of the way mankind runs its affairs.

Quit complaining about your hurt feelings and start fighting back against the monsters who make the rules we all obey as good little citizens.

The propaganda they spew is easy enough to spot: just read The Prince by Macchiavelli and War is a Racket by General Smedley Butler (his real name, and one of the most decorated Marines in our history).

A more general overview can be found in Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan in which he wrote that man's life is nasty, poor, brutish, and short.

Read up on the Robber Barons, the Dust Bowl, and any history by Howard Zinn. Then dedicate a week or two to reading the daily posts at the World Socialist Web Site.

Most of all, jettison all the crap you've been taught about freedom, democracy, equality, and the American Way of Life. These are fine goals to shoot for, but don't confuse this stuff with history or the nature of American reality.

George Bush and his monstrous cronies have done America a favor; if you are willing, you can simply take a cold look at his values (not his speeches) and his family's values. There you will find all you need to know about the nature of mankind when left unfettered by conscience and law.

Posted by: Jon Koppenhoefer [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 1, 2007 11:26 AM

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