Bush’s Business Plan for Iraq

Okay, so we’ve got a nice booklet and another posturing speech outlining the “Plan for Victory” in Iraq. Fair enough. We’ve heard these arguments before…many times. Now that Rep. Murtha has opened up the debate, the airwaves are bristling with electronic chatter about the mission, if and how we win, and if and how we get out. But is that the issue?

No, not really.

Since the lead up to war, since Chief of Staff Andrew Card talked about the war as a “new product being rolled out” before the marketing campaign began, the misdirection and miscalculation have kept us all spinning in the quagmire of a muddied military campaign. The broken promises of easy victory, of liberating heroes freeing the Iraqi people, of limited needs for personnel and taxpayer funds and of keeping Saddam’s WMDs out of the hands of evildoers…these things confounded and confused a 9/11-weary public and fed a patriotism-obsessed media just looking for a reason to wave the flag.

Now we all look back and, given the CIA-Leak scandal, wonder if we were sold a bill of goods, basket of lies…a bag of tricks.

And we were…sort of.

The plan for military victory, which seems to have been totally inadequate, was really a long-term business plan for success. It’s hard to accept it, but what if military failure in the short-term translated into business success in the long-term? What if the promises of swift and decisive action were hollow, but provided a cover for the business and money-making opportunities that came from the ensuing chaos of post-statue Baghdad?

Think if it. What if we’d been greeted as liberators, had the Iraqis transitioned into a post-Saddam democracy and taken control of their land, their lives and their oil? Would we be allowed to build permanent bases there? Would we have been allowed to force our agribusiness interests on their farmers, our oil contracts and infrastructure rebuilding contracts down their throats? Perhaps. Perhaps now. The Iraqis don’t want us there. They never have. Had they taken control of their country, would the world’s second largest oil reserves be flowing freely, funding the rebirth of their nation and driving world oil prices down in a sea of over-production?

When President Clinton ordered the UN inspection team to leave in 1998, Iraq was on the verge of being certified WMD free. Not immediately, but they’d done a great job of finding most everything. The Oil-for-Food program was gearing up and Iraq was selling far more oil then than it is now. Still, it was a small portion of what they could put out on the world market. Halliburton was rebuilding capacity through that program. And then Saddam started making noises about switching from dollars to euros for all oil transactions. Big mistake. That’s a lot of money lost to US banks and oil companies. And had Iraq finally come into compliance on WMDs…been certified…the oil spigot would open wide, flooding the world’s oil supply and driving down prices…and profits.

The Saudis would’ve taken a bit hit. Iraq’s reserves were the primary challenge to their domination of the market. And the big oil companies would not have been hitting record profits quarter and after quarter…as they’ve done since we marched into Iraq. Artificial scarcity is an oft-ignored part of our capitalistic system. The Saudis wanted it. Oil companies wanted it. They got it. Perhaps that’s why the Saudis are the number one funder of terrorism and send, by far, the most suicide bombers to Iraq. Iraq’s oil is languishing there…but a ton of money is being made by keeping it off the market.

And then there is Halliburton. They made a ton of money off of their support and logistical roles during the invasion. They make money everyday off of the occupation–building bases, serving food, trucking water and fuel around. It’s a huge stream of revenue. Huge. They are rebuilding oil infrastructure…on contracts they might not have gotten from a petulant Saddam after he was found to be in compliance with the UN’s resolutions on WMDs. They are building permanent bases. And the longer we are there…the more money they make.

A quick victory was not part of the business plan for Iraq.

Then there is terrorism. Insurgency, perhaps. But the fact is that we have a Vietnam situation brewing…nationalism, hatred of occupation and internal struggle between two factions…sounds familiar, right? Vietnam was not going to end with our involvement. We couldn’t stop the war with our might or presence. The same is true here. But the chaos is a self-perpetuating machine…the chaos means we cannot cut and run…the chaos is caused by our presence. The end of chaos means we can leave…but the plan is to stay…indefinitely. Chaos is good for business and ensures our prolonged presence.

The rosy assessments were just a sales pitch. Wolfowitz, Cheney…they all knew it would unleash hell for us to go in. But it also unleashed billions of tax-payer dollars directly into the coffers of the people they represent…the military industry, the energy industry, the major construction industry. All this talk about victory is a moot point. Bush’s speech and little book are for our consumption, while the profits from an enduring chaos are for theirs.

Finally, it was obvious after Afghanistan that the international network of terrorists was overblown. It was not that big. And Iraq was basically free of those cells that did exist. But the chaos invited a whole generation of Muslims to take up the cause, to become those terrorists the Administration needed to justify it’s larger, geopolitical strategy. It’s larger oil-centric strategy. It’s not about getting all the oil so they can sell it. It’s about keeping too much oil from hitting the market and driving down profits. It’s about finally putting the oil in the hands of cooperative cronies…like the Saudis have been for decades.

Saddam was not going to cooperate. Not after Bush the First betrayed him and withdrew his patronage…a relationship built during the 80’s…one that started the Iran-Iraq War, and kept the problematic Kurds at bay. That was another business plan…but that’s another blog.

Follow the money. Think about the money lost had we won in Iraq. Think about the money made since the fall of the statue. Think about the money that will be made…the enduring rationale for staying “until the job is done,” a job anyone who studies history knows will never be done…and think about the daily reminders of terrorism that keep us looking over our shoulders…keep us thinking there is global war on terrorism that will never end.

We had the Commies for half a century, and fear of them fed the military-industrial beast trillions of dollars. This latest beast is even better. It will never go away. Particularly if we keep on keeping on in Iraq. The perpetual machine is real…not for your car or to heat your home…but to keep your money going upwards and outwards into the offshore accounts of those who really make the plans. The business plans…for us all.

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