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Iraq War Profits: A Thought Piece

April 26, 2009

Are Profit Motives Behind The War in Iraq?

By Andrew Dossman 2/19/09

War has been around since the beginning of man’s existence. The question that must be addressed is; have the reasons for war changed in some way?

Do we still go to war for reasons of our country or do we go to war for Wall Street? In the new age of free markets and globalized capitalism, the world seems to move for the will of profit making. In most cases there is nothing wrong with this, it creates jobs, expands infrastructure, and moves humanity forward through innovation.

However, has the drive for profits overflowed into one of the great scourges that humanity has brought upon us? Certain conflicts can be cited as religious, ideological, expansion, or a fight for resources. But have we now entered into conflicts that have nothing to do with these reasons? Do we go to war for economic gains of certain corporations instead of national interest, and also are these wars to be won? Or are they only to be sustained as long as possible to maximize profits?

So let’s consider America’s interest in Iraq. The American government had already gone to war with Iraq over Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1991. The impressive victory by the coalition forces had left the Iraqi military and some of the Iraqi infrastructure in shambles. Most of the chemical, biological, and nuclear facilities were destroyed after the war when weapons inspectors came into the country. But the Iraqis did not comply with all of the demands from the inspectors and a number of sanctions were placed on Iraq, further crippling its economy and resulting in the death of 500,000 children, that was said to be “worth it” by former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright .

According to the United States Government, after 9/11, Iraq amazingly had the ability to create these weapons of mass destruction once again, and not only that, Iraq also had ties to Al Qaeda, which meant that they were a terrorist state.

Nonetheless, as we all now know, it has been confirmed later that this information was faulty at best, and as a result no WMD’s were found and Al Qaeda moved into Iraq only AFTER we invaded. So the question is, if the Bush administration had overwhelming conflicting evidence that Iraq did not have WMD’s or ties to Al Qaeda?

Why did we still invade if it had nothing to do with our national security?

The second war against Iraq is one of the main examples of possible war for profits. Scores of corporations have made billions in profits since the war began. Many of these companies were given these contracts with no bid, which means that no other company was brought forth to try to sell their plan on how to rebuild the country. Does no one else see the paradox in paying to blow up a bridge and then paying others to rebuild it?

Haliburton and its subsidiary Kellogg, Brown, and Root was the largest recipient of war contracts for Iraq.

One doesn’t need to look very hard at the way these military contracts are set up to start asking questions. First, Haliburton was given no bid contracts which eliminated the competition for the services. Second, Haliburton’s contracts were on a “cost plus” plan, which simply means, if there is a project that can be done, Haliburton gets reimbursed for all the cost to do the job and then is paid a percentage of the cost of the job as a fee. This gives Haliburton an incentive to never do a job cheap because the more money they spent the more money they made.

Examples of this include charging as much as one hundred dollars per bag of laundry that a soldier brought in, sending trucks to deliver things that did not need to be sent, purchasing and leasing of vehicles that were never driven, and destruction of vehicles instead of performing minor repairs on them to maximize the bills they would have to send back to the U.S. Government.

Third, not only did Haliburton do projects that were meaningless, they cut corners on as many projects as they could. Haliburton was given the job to build and maintain 67 water treatment plants to deliver fresh washing and cooking water to the U.S. Soldiers stationed in Iraq. However after some testing of the water is was found that 63 of the 67 water supplies were contaminated and showed no sign of being maintained at all. Soldiers used this water for some time before it was discovered that it was contaminated by micro organisms and it is unknown how many have parasites. Another example of this is Haliburton not running 24 hour food halls.

“ KBR was not having 24 hour food schedule because it saved them money. They had scheduled feeding times and as a result food halls were attacked at those times because insurgents knew thats when the halls were full” (Geoff Millard Sgt US Army National Guard).

Haliburton was found to have overcharged the U.S. Government for 1.3 Billion dollars. Finally, a huge conflict of interest is not hard to spot. Former Vice President Dick Cheney used to be Haliburton’s CEO.

Haliburton was given special privileges and ran wild around Iraq doing as they pleased. With a huge possibility to make record profits at the cost of American tax dollars, and a former CEO in the White House who is arguably the second most powerful man on the planet, Haliburton had substantial influence in the profit motives for the war in Iraq.

Many on Capitol Hill argued that Haliburton was the best company for the job, however with no bid contracts it’s hard to have said that with any certainty.

Blackwater, the private military contractor, was another major player in Iraq. Like Haliburton, they were given huge government contracts, for Blackwater it was around 500 million dollars. Something interesting to look at is where Blackwater came from, and where it is now. The small company went from training a few SWAT units and making a profit of about a million dollars a year to over 500 million with the Iraq war. To understand how the huge contracts came to be, all one needs to do is look at Blackwater’s political ties.

Blackwater’s founder and CEO, Erik Prince has ties to many powerful conservative Christian groups. The Family Research Council, in which his father was a huge part in making, was one of these, and it was one of the main contributors to Bush’s second election. Like Haliburton, Blackwater was given some no bid contracts to provide guards in Afghanistan .

Some may argue that private military contractors do a job the military cannot, which is completely ridiculous; many of the mercenaries hired by Blackwater were retired police officers, with little training for urban warfare and combat.

This has been seen in their many instances of disorderly conduct, such as shooting first, shooting innocent civilians, and shooting “friendlies”. Another interesting fact to look at with Blackwater is the ties it has with the intelligence and defense branches of the government. Erik Prince reportedly meets with top CIA officials and regular basis. Also several workers from the CIA and Pentagon quit their jobs to join Blackwater. With such close ties with the intelligence industry, one begins to think about the faulty intelligence that sparked the war in the first place.

One only needs to step back and look at the war in Iraq to see that it was purely a war for private companies to make huge profits. The political connections of both companies, combined with the “no strings attached” business contracts, all seem to indicate a form of kickbacks for positions of power. The intelligence for the war was hit with overwhelming criticism and may have intentionally been ignored to enter the war anyway. America has only been drained by this conflict, and the promises of it being paid off in oil revenues are almost laughable now. The companies made massive profits and did not make anything better in Iraq. If anything, they may have made it worse. The act of war tears our world apart. War should only be fought for the survival of a people or country, not for the greed in people’s hearts.

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