Monday, January 15

Oil and War Profiteering Driving Democrat Betrayal of Voters' Anti-War Mandate

[T]he two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can “throw the rascals out” at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy. --US historian Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time, discussing the American power elite's manipulation of the U.S.'s pseudo-two party system, 1966

A week ago (January 8) Milkhouse Mouse cited an underreported British press report on impending Iraqi legislation granting American oil companies a 30-year lease of Iraq's petroleum reserves worth billions in revenue. As a legislative body historically owned by Corporate America, the new Democrat-controlled Congress will be obligated to betray the mandate that American voters in November gave Democrats for ending the US military's involvement in Iraq. Troops will remain to protect the new oil and pipeline investments, even though the war is widely acknowledged as lost.

Four days after that piece appeared, Dr. Ismael Hossein-zadeh, a Drake University economics professor in Des Moines, Iowa, published a complementary assessment demonstrating American war-profiteering in Iraq is lucrative to remove troops. According to Hossein,

Neither the Iraq Study Group nor other establishment critics of the Iraq war are calling for the withdrawal of US troops from that country. To the extent that the Study Group or the new Congress purport to inject some "realism" into the Iraq policy, such projected modifications do not seem to amount to more than changing the drivers of the US war machine without changing its destination, or objectives: control of Iraq’s political and economic policies.

In light of the fact that by now almost all of the factions of the ruling circles, including the White House and the neoconservative war-mongerers, acknowledge the failure of the Iraq war, why, then, do they balk at the idea of pulling the troops out of that country?

Perhaps the shortest path to a relatively satisfactory answer would be to follow the money trail. The fact of matter is that not everyone is losing in Iraq. Indeed, while the Bush administration’s wars of choice have brought unnecessary death, destruction, and disaster to millions, including many from the Unites States, they have also brought fortunes and prosperity to war profiteers. At the heart of the reluctance to withdraw from Iraq lies the profiteers’ unwillingness to give up further fortunes and spoils of war.... (Read the whole essay here.)

Dr. Hossein further chronicles sordid reconstruction scams by over 100,000 American contractors whose success in ripping off American taxpayers and Iraqis is ensured by heavily-armed U.S. troops on the ground.

In making his argument, the professor briefly cites two-time U.S. Medal of Honor recipient Major General Smedley D. Butler, who came to loathe himself once he understood the services he really performed as an American soldier. After retiring from the Marine Crops, Butler gave a speech in 1933 in which he cited his role as a "gangster for capitalism" while deployed abroad, later developing his scathing observations in the book War is a Racket (1935).

.... The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism....

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912.... I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

(Incidentally, Brown Brothers was the parent company of Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR), a company Dick Cheney acquired during his 1995-2000 tenure as CEO at Halliburton, the most egregious American war-profiteer to squander untold tax dollars in Iraq. My, how things do change.)

In a recent book The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism, Hossein-zadeh further develops and updates General Butler's view of the U.S. military serves as guardian for American predatory capitalism in faraway places such as Iraq.

Like their psuedo-opposition on Capitol Hill, the Democrats--all their dramatic posturing on TV and in the press aside--will not pull troops from Iraq; they are essential in facilitating massive oil and reconstruction windfalls. Removing them, according to General Butler, would contradict a century of American imperialism and profiteering.

Postscript: See assessments (and two reviews) of Dr. Hossein-zadeh's book here.

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