Who's Looting Who? The further destruction of Iraq

As riotous mobs pillaged Baghdad's Archaeological Museum and put to the torch the National Library, buildings housing the relics thousands of years of Mesopotamian culture, US troops sat back and did nothing, as if urging Iraqis to destroy their own past, in order for Washington to control their present and future, in true Orwellian fashion. The forces of globocop also held back while these same liberty-seeking Iraqis dealt the same destructive blow to the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Irrigation, the Ministry of Trade, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Information, indeed the entire remnants of a state structure crippled since the last Gulf War. Significantly, US troops could be found protecting the HQ of Iraq’s secret police, the Oil Ministry as well as the North Oil Company, a state owned enterprise responsible for the country’s northern oil fields.

Colonel William Mayville, informed the assembled international press that the US wanted to impart an even simpler message: "Hey, don't screw with the oil."

The verbose Donald Rumsfeld, US Sec for Defence explained away the carnage in simple terms: “It’s untidy…And Freedom’s untidy and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes.” Rumsfeld should certainly know, representing one of the biggest criminal gangs in political history.

The west may despair at the looting of museums and libraries in Baghdad, but is it not the case that this is just what the Bush-Cheney regime have been doing back home since they hijacked the White House? While the law has been distracted, they have raided the treasury, ransacked the environment and demolished civil liberties. And what were Enron, WorldCom and Xerox doing if they were not looting? In the biggest heist in the annals of corporate robbery, CEOs and finance officers borrowed many millions from cooperative banks, using the money to force up company stock prices, and in so doing increasing the value of their options. Between 1994 and 1999, inclusive, $1.22 trillion was borrowed by non-financial corporations. Of that figure, corporations used just 15.3 per cent for capital expenditures. They used 57 per cent of it, $697.4 billion, to buy back stock and thus enrich themselves. Corporate USA could surely show the looting hoards of Baghdad a thing or two. And who do we find heading the Iraqi National Congress? A US puppet, now back in Iraq and set to wheel and deal on behalf of Uncle Sam. None other than Ahmad Chalabi who, in 1992, was tried by a Jordanian court in his absence, on 31 charges of embezzlement, theft, misuse of depositor funds and currency speculation and sentenced to 22 years' imprisonment. Just the man for the job.

Like a faint voice crying beneath the rubble, the International Committee of the Red Cross could be found remonstrating about the violence and unconstrained looting which has prohibited it distributing desperately needed humanitarian aid. It pointed out how US unwillingness to attempt to bring the chaos and destruction to a halt was in breach of the Geneva Convention. However, if you can dismiss other international treaties with a wave of the hand, invade countries without UN support, refuse to acknowledge various international principles and agreements then why give a fuck for the Geneva Convention? The US had already announced its intention to rubbish the GC when it began imprisoning Moslems on spurious 9/11-related charges in Guantanamo Bay, depriving them of legal advice, even using sensory deprivation and beatings. And isn’t there something in the GC about cluster bombs and similar weaponry, the beating of Iraqi prisoners and the parading of the same unfortunates naked through the streets of Baghdad?

No sooner is Baghdad ‘secure’ than the US awards a huge reconstruction contract to Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, and a company headed, three years ago, by vice president Dick Cheney. Haliburton, incidentally, still pays Cheney a $1 million retainer per year and he’s worth every dime.

Two years ago, the Pentagon awarded Kellogg, Brown and Root a 10-year contract known as the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) - a "cost-plus-award-fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity service" or, in other words, a situation now exists whereby the federal government has unrestricted directive and resources to send Kellogg, Brown and Root anywhere in the world to run military operations for a profit.

Prior to the invasion of Iraq Halliburton (or rather 1,800 Kellogg, Brown and Root employees) could be found working beside US troops in Kuwait and Turkey under a deal worth close to a billion dollars. US Army sources claimed they were constructing tent cities and providing logistical support for the invasion as well as to other hot spots in the "war on terrorism.”

The Cheney-Halliburton-US war machine saga is the typical military-industrial-political menage-a-trois . As Secretary of Defence under Bush Snr. (that’s the Bush with a few more brain cells), Cheney paid Brown and Root services (now Kellogg, Brown and Root) $3.9 million to detail how private corporations could assist the U.S. Army as Cheney eradicated thousands of Army jobs. Then Brown and Root were awarded a five-year contract to provide logistics for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers all over the globe. When, in 1995, Cheney became CEO, Halliburton jumped from 73rd to 18th on the Pentagon's directory of top contractors, benefiting - according to the Centre for Public Integrity - from at least $3.8 billion in federal contracts and taxpayer-insured loans.

Fundamentalist resistance
The US State Department, acknowledges the level the anti-American feeling across the Middle East and the resistance its corporations will meet as they enter Iraq and further foresees that it will have to maintain a presence in Iraq for quite some time – already 4 military bases are being planned in the country. On Newsnight recently, Rumsfeld crony Ken Aldeman stated that the US wanted democracy right across the Middle East. One Arab commentator countered the assertion, stating that if the oppressive regimes of the Middle East were ever to undergo regime change and hold democratic elections, then this would surely mean increased opposition to US presence and the designs of its corporations. Rather than have Arab leaders silence US opposition, the US presence would instead fan the flames of Arab fanaticism. Already there is a growing radicalism, with mass meetings of the Shia community in the country’s mosques.

Back in 1991, and the defeat of Saddam following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the US purposely held back from going the full hog and overthrowing the Ba’athist regime, even withdrawing their support for the Northern Kurds and the Marsh Arabs once they had promised to back any rebellion against Baghdad. The reason was simple, Saddam’s ruling shia clan held the country together. Were he to be toppled the country would fragment into warring factions, leaving the shia (who make up the bulk of the Iraqi population) in control. It is this threat of an anti-American shia backlash that necessitates a continued US presence in defence of its regional oil and gas interests. The US control over Iraq will become so intense the country will mirror a US state.

Bush and his architects will undoubtedly strive to build a new Iraq now that the museums and national archives can no longer remind them of their culture and heritage. In the proverbial wings a new US-style culture awaits the Iraqi working class - a McDonaldised Iraq ruled by westernised marionettes and serviced by US corporations. In years to come expect to glance down into your trainers to find a label saying “Made in Iraq” and to watch TV crews filming in Iraq setting interviewers against the backdrop of a Starbucks coffee house.

Lets get one thing straight. This invasion had nothing to do with ridding the world of weapons of mass destruction or liberating an oppressed people from a tyrannical regime. After all Saddam not only came to power in a CIA backed coup; he was then provided with his chemical weapons by the US, keen he should serve as a buffer to the spread of Iranian-style militant Islam which threatened the regions oil supplies and trade routes.

The US did not wage war with Saddam simply to leave once he was toppled. They mean to stay put for a long time, even if they succeed in setting up a stooge, US-friendly regime. Globocop is in Iraq to strengthen their control over the region’s oils reserves and to further use the region as a base from which the Arab world can be policed. Indeed, logic dictates the US cannot leave. Devoid of an American military presence, Iraq would fragment. The old religious, ethnic, regional and tribal divisions would only intensify if an American-appointed puppet government were to establish "democracy".

It is just this threat of instability the US thrives on – the never ending pretexts for the overt use of US force in pursuit of the interests of its corporate elite. The world is being looted like never before by a criminal gang who rationalise their crimes with a newspeak the gullible are all to keen to digest– “the war on terror”, “bringing democracy to the world”. In truth this is the US saying “the world is ours. Interfere and we’re coming for you.” In this new AMERICAN CENTURY there are certainly looters and looters. Be afraid.