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Vorocracy: 1: Iraq

From top to bottom of the ladder, greed is aroused without knowing where to find ultimate foothold. Nothing can calm it, since its goal is far beyond all it can attain. Reality seems valueless by comparison with the dreams of fevered imaginations; reality is therefore abandoned.

     —Emile Durkheim

Why did BushCo invade Iraq?

A recent article in the Washington Post entitled Security Costs Slow Iraq Reconstruction got me thinking. Here are some excerpts:

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Efforts to rebuild water, electricity and health networks in Iraq are being shortchanged by higher-than-expected costs to provide security and by generous financial awards to contractors, according to a series of reports by government investigators released yesterday.

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"It's quite clear that we've got massive amounts of taxpayer money funneled into Iraq, with very little oversight and a substantial amount of waste and abuse," said Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND). "These are very discouraging reports."

Dorgan said the high costs associated with providing security are particularly troubling.

The government does not know how much it spends on private security contractors in total, the GAO said. But it is more than expected. "Contractor officials acknowledge that the cost of private security services and security-related equipment, such as armored vehicles, has exceeded what they originally envisioned," the GAO said.

The Pentagon estimates there are 60 private security firms with as many as 25,000 employees in Iraq. Some elite personnel make $33,000 a month. But there are no industry standards, and soldiers are not taught in advance how to interact with the armed contractors, according to the GAO.

The use of contractors has led to occasional conflicts with the military. In May, the Marines detained 19 contractors for three days, claiming the contractors fired at them. The contractors, who worked for Zapata Engineering of Charlotte, denied firing at the Marines and said they were roughed up while in custody.

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In a separate report yesterday, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction reported that more money than necessary may be going into the pockets of government contractors involved in the rebuilding process.

A review by auditors of 18 reconstruction contracts found that the formula used for doling out special monetary awards, which are above and beyond basic fees, tended to skew them too high.

For instance, the inspector general's office found that a contractor that received an evaluation of "average" performance won award fees of $1.67 million but could have been given just $309,436 under another widely accepted awards system. In a second case, a contractor won no award fees but ended up being paid $439,145 after it appealed because it had not received feedback on its work from the government.

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The reconstruction projects in Iraq and Afghanistan together represent the largest U.S. assistance efforts since World War II. In Iraq alone, the GAO said, the United States has allocated $24 billion and has spent $9 billion since 2003.

A moment's reflection will invite the realization that someone's making shiploads of money from this whole debacle. Then a bit more reflection will lead to the question "Well, just who is profiting from this?" Then you gather the names of the companies involved, determine their executives, find the ways these various executives and various companies are incestuously related to each other and their revolving door relationship to government officialdom and maybe you come to the realization that this was all just a monstrous way to funnel tax dollars from the public directly into the pockets of BushCo and their cronies. And then maybe, just maybe, a light goes off in your head that perhaps this whole Iraq war is actually going according to plan.

(As an aside, the above mainstream (ie, corporate) article, with one minor exception, neglected to mention (of course) just who these security services and contractors are; or where, precisely, the money is being "wasted." Quite an omission, isn't it? But is money ever really "wasted"? Maybe to those who lose it, but certainly not to those who acquire it. According to the GAO someone's getting a hell of a lot of your "wasted" money, money that just seems to somehow — unaccountably (literally) — vanish. Who's getting it? Don't you think that would be a good question for a journalist to ask? or perhaps even a better one to answer?)

Who, aside from the neocon zealots and the chronically gullible media consumer, could have actually expected that entering a war with an inadequate force, relying on precious Guards & reserves (ie, cheaper "part-time" soldiers), would have been a cakewalk? I personally know some such zealots who truly believed the ridiculous promises that the Iraqis would greet their liberators with flowers and candy and "sing great songs about us", and crowed about the success of "Operation Iraqi Freedom, baby!" when they saw Hussein's statue toppled for the cameras.

But anyone with any connection to lived-reality easily predicted the complete and utter disaster that this war invasion would bring to the Iraqi people specifically, and the world-at-large in general; and it would also serve to polarize the invading force's citizenry as well as hasten its economic decline. What such an attitude doesn't account for — because such a 'reality-based' attitude is often in tune with universal humanitarian ethics — is that perhaps this may have been the desired goal of the entire endeavor to begin with. You see, conflict is always profitable — at least for those who know how to feed off of it.

Those who think the invasion of Iraq was all about the oil are on the right path; but as Paul Craig Roberts asks:

Why did Bush invade Iraq?

Cynical Americans say the answer is oil. But $300 billion would have bought the oil without getting anyone killed, without destroying America's reputation in the world and without stirring up countless terrorist recruits for al Qaida.

He's right. That's because oil, like WMDs, was, as Hitchcock would say, a MacGuffin, a plot device, a distraction, as it were, to move the plot along. Of course securing oil is the crown jewel of contemporary geopolitics ("He who controls the Spice, controls the universe!"), and thus was certainly the determining factor in choosing to invade Iraq over, say, Rwanda — given the coming global energy crisis and the geopolitical necessity of appropriating Iraq as a military base in the PNAC's plan for global conquest, they would use its oil reserves as political leverage to assume their Blofeldian plans for global hegemony. But in the bigger picture oil is merely a means to an end — a vitally important means, but it's nonetheless the icing on a cake. The cake itself is another matter. Journalist Pratap Chatterjee, in his book Iraq, Inc.: A Profitable Occupation, discusses his belief for the rationale for attacking Iraq:

I do believe that the war took place for two reasons: to distract the public's attention from the Bush administration's failure to rebuild crumbling domestic infrastructure — schools, hospitals, and social security — and to strengthen the U.S. military presence in the Middle East. Oil was a factor in the invasion, but also proved incidental to that action. After all, the United States was one of the biggest buyers of Iraqi oil before the war and still is after the war...In fact, Halliburton does not control the oil wells nor hold any oil concessions. It is simply an oil services company, providing expertise to oil companies who own such concessions. The biggest, somewhat less conspiratorial, question regards its military contracts in Iraq, worth ten times those of its contracts in the oil sector.

While his second reason is a given, I don't agree with Mr. Chatterjee's first reason: though, like a magician's wand, starting a war certainly is a great distraction, the policy to invade Iraq was formulated long before BushCo assumed office. It can also be argued that such an excuse is moot because it implies that they even acknowledge or care about America's crumbling infrastructure. (Indeed, BushCo, as the leveraged buyout executives they are, actively seeks to dismantle America's infrastructure so as to pocket the profits from doing so.)

As we shall see there is another, deeper reason for invading Iraq. For now it can summarized as desiring to replace a client state's executive because the state was functioning a bit too well outside the neoliberal model. Ie: the puppet had a few ideas of his own that directly benefitted his own people (at least those he wasn't torturing) over and above the needs of his masters. And so they decided it was time to oust their puppet and just install themselves, the better to oversee their investments.

Later Mr. Roberts asks:

Will President Bush ever tell us the real reason why he committed America's treasure, the lives of American soldiers and the reputation of our country to war in Iraq?

Does he even know?

The answer is "no" and "yes". Bush will never divulge the real reason because people would not understand nor believe it. Does Bush himself even know? Most likely, though he probably doesn't have the language with which to express it: are chameleons conscious of their own camouflage? Chameleons just instinctively hide in plain sight without knowing the hows and whys of their doing so.

The PNAC neo-con zealots who are helping to flush America down the toilet as they pursue their insane plan of global American hegemony brought about an eternal war against of terror because, quite simply, war means money — a great deal of money, cosmic amounts of money. (Plus, they seem to believe, like other hubristic psychopaths before them, that they are impervious to Imperial Overstretch, which always seems to lead to the death of an empire.) They themselves may not see it this way since their self-professed religion is one of American Exceptionalism, and thus they have a zealot's faith in their cause. But that doesn't alter the fact that their geopolitical theology is practically indistinguishable from the interests of capital. Power and money have, since time immemorial, been politically wedded together. And, in modern America, the line between its two contemporary theological apologetics — neoconservatism and neoliberalism — is very fuzzy indeed since their interests intertwine so organically.

Ultimately, it's all about power, and, even moreso, money. ("Money is power" as the old saw says.) And nothing unites these two in connubial bliss more than war: it provides illegitimate power its ultimate raison d'etre while it funnels money into the coffers of its henchmen. With BushCo these two forces are joined at the hip, comprising a monstrous, pathological conjoined twin. "Out of war a few people make huge fortunes," as Marine Major General Smedley "I was a racketeer for Capitalism" Butler says in his book War is a Racket.

And, if war is hugely profitable, then it follows that an eternal war would be eternally profitable.

Vorocracy 2: Conflict of Interest as the Structural Engine of Economic Ecstasy →