Militarism and the Corporate Welfare
by Charles Sullivan
www.dissidentvoice.org, July 13,
Right wing politicos and their conservative
constituents are always bemoaning big government. Yet wealthy
people of all political stripes constantly use big government
to their own benefit. The rich widely assume, falsely, I think,
that what is good for them is good for the country. By extension
they also assume that what is good for the corporations is good
for the people. But that has never been the case. No one should
be allowed to make a living on the misery of others.
The latter seems odd, given that business
people are always harping about getting the government out of
our (their) lives; all the while they are using government to
obtain no bid contracts, to write legislation in the corporate
interest, stocking the judiciary with pro-corporate judges, redrawing
political districts and using the military to invade and occupy
sovereign nations in order to privatize them. Iraq provides a
compelling case study.
Of course, what businessmen really mean
by getting government off our backs is preventing government from
regulating commerce, as if there were some connection between
capital and democracy, democracy and freedom. In corporate speak
democracy and free trade has nothing to do with human beings and
their freedoms. What Bush and his kind are really talking about
is absolute corporate rule and continued Plutocracy.
According to author Antonia Juhasz, "Prior
to the first Gulf War in 1991 and even after eight years of war
with Iran, Iraq was ranked 15 out of 130 countries on the 1990
United Nations Human Development Index. Before the first Bush
invasion, Iraq had the highest percentage of college-educated
citizens in the Middle East and above average overall literacy
rates. According to the World Health Organization, prior to 1991
health care reached approximately 97 percent of the urban population
and 78 percent of rural residents, while the infant mortality
rate was well below average for developing countries. "
Constitutional government was established
in Iraq in 1922. Prior to the 1991 U.S. invasion, Iraq was in
essence a socialist government, since most of its political and
economic infrastructure, including its burgeoning oil industry
was nationalized. Despite Saddam Hussein's abuse of the constitution
(the U.S. is suffering similar abuses under Bush), the Iraqi people
enjoyed a high standard of living and many freedoms. This allowed
them benefits such as socialized health care and access to free
higher education that Americans have never known.
All of those freedoms and the high standard
of living were demolished with the U.S. invasion and permanent
occupation of Iraq. A huge corporate fire sale was under way.
Under the imposed dictatorship of Paul
Bremer, granted under the Coalition Provisional Authority during
the first months of the occupation, all of Iraq's 192 state-owned
enterprises were privatized and divided among 150 U.S. corporations
that have so far realized more than $50 billion in profits. Every
aspect of the Iraqi economy was dismantled, privatized, and divided
up among corporate America with no benefit to the Iraqi people.
With the U.S. occupation, the Iraqi Constitution
was torn asunder and replaced with a new charter that places Iraq
under virtual corporate rule. Under the U.S. imposed Corporate
Constitution, the Iraqis no longer have access to clean water,
reliable electricity, medicine, health care, or higher education.
Ownership of Iraq's once prosperous economy, including her extensive
oil fields, was transferred from the Iraqi people to U.S. corporations.
This is the democracy we have brought
to Iraq, punctuated by suffering, misery, and death. When innocent
blood flows so too does the money. See how the stocks of Halliburton
and Bechtel rose with the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
The blueprint for the economic plunder
of Iraq was orchestrated by Bearing Point, Inc. of Mclean, Virginia.
The Bearing Point plan turns Iraq from a socialist state to a
full bore capitalist entity over three years. For their services
Bearing Point made the tidy sum of $250 million.
Not surprisingly, Bremer has strong ties
with corporate America and such luminaries of dementia as Donald
Rumsfeld, Henry Kissinger and George Schultz that extend more
than a quarter of a century. All of these men have economic ties
with the same businesses that stole Iraq's wealth. Each of them
has realized great personal fortune by profiteering on the spoils
of war and occupation: policies they helped to forge.
The government is studded with men like
Paul Bremer and Henry Kissinger, who migrate back and forth from
corporate America into the halls of government, create policy
that is favorable to their own business interests, then return
to business to realize the wealth they have created for themselves
and their shareholders. It is men like them who are responsible
for America's aggressive war posture, among them the quagmire
Consider the ties regarding officials
in the Bush regime and the Halliburton-military-war profiteering
connection, as documented by Antonia Juhasz in The Bush Agenda:
* Joe Lopez, a retired four-star general
and former aide to Cheney joined Halliburton in 1999.
* Dave Gribbon, Cheney's former assistant
in Congress was Halliburton's Vice President and returned to the
Whitehouse with Cheney when Bush stole the 2000 election.
* Ray Hunt, who provided money to both
of the Bush presidencies joined Halliburton in 1998 and serves
to this day.
* Lawrence Eagleberger, former president
of Kissinger Associates and Bush, senior's Secretary of State
also served on Halliburton's board of directors
* Charles Dominy, a retired three star
general and former Halliburton executive currently serves as Halliburton's
Halliburton is only one of many corporations
profiting from the invasion and the permanent occupation of Iraq.
Other corporations have people as favorably placed in the Bush
regime as Halliburton. Bechtel, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General
Electric -- all the usual suspects -- are well represented in
the government; and all of them lobbied extensively for war and
occupation. They have no intentions of stopping in Iraq either.
The world is their oyster and the military can procure it for
It is worth noting that crony appointments
are not peculiar to the Bush regime or to the Republican Party.
They have a long and sordid history. That is how business is conducted
and fortunes are made -- through outright theft and conquest.
None of this would be possible without the military. Our soldiers
are the pawns of the rich but they think they are making the world
safe for democracy. All they are doing in fact is opening the
world up to capitalism and private ownership.
Since the occupation began in 2003 the
Iraqi people have been forced to exist under conditions of extreme
brutality and abject poverty. After the deliberate bombing of
water sanitation facilities, hospitals, and electric generating
sites there have been outbreaks of disease such as tuberculosis
and dysentery, causing suffering and death. There has been no
peace and no security for the innocent victims of unbridled greed.
There is also the matter of depleted uranium
munitions used by U.S. forces that litters the country in aerosolized
form that is easily taken up by the wind and remains radioactive
forever. Depleted uranium is an indiscriminate killer whose effects
linger for generations in the bodies of the occupiers and the
occupied. Can you say Agent Orange? That is the great free market
democracy that we have brought to the Middle East.
The war machine keeps turning like a sausage
grinder, spewing its product into the coffers of the rich. Into
the hopper go our sons and daughters and dark-skinned nations
-- out comes sausage and huge bank rolls for Bush, Cheney, and
Rumsfeld and corporate America. Corporations, government, and
militarism comprise the unholy trinity of capitalism. Together
they form a corporate welfare state that boggles the mind.
The American military is not abroad defending
freedom and sowing the seeds of democracy, as they seem to believe.
One need only examine the history of this nation to recognize
the familiar patterns of conquest and oppression. The occupation
of Iraq is the continuation of the policies that created the institution
of slavery, following the genocide of the Indians. The military,
far from being a defender of peace and freedom, has evolved into
an extension of the corporate welfare state.
The world will know no peace until enough
citizens are sufficiently aroused to dismantle the military apparatus.
Furthermore, we must recognize the link between militarism, war,
and capital and build a better system -- a form of government
that serves the people rather than capital. Code Pink and other
groups that maintain a constant presence in Washington are on
the right track. They deserve our full support.
Charles Sullivan is a photographer, freelance
writer and social activist residing somewhere in the hinterland
of West Virginia. He welcomes your comments at: firstname.lastname@example.org.