Squandering billions in Iraq
while U.S. suffers
By Eric Margolis
“A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re
talking about real money,” famously quipped U.S. Senator
Everett Dirksen back in the 1960s.
Sun' -- -- Our minds boggled last week
at U.S. government estimates that President George W.
Bush’s so-called “war on terror” (including Afghanistan
and Iraq) will cost at least $690 billion US by next
year. That’s more than the total cost of World War I,
Korea, or Vietnam, and second only to World War II’s $2
This means that by 2008, Bush’s wars in the Muslim world
will have cost each American man, woman and child
Defeat looms in Iraq; Afghanistan is headed that way.
And now U.S. intelligence reports al-Qaida is stronger
than ever. Osama Bin Laden, who said the only way to
expel U.S. influence from the Muslim world was to bleed
the U.S. financially, must be beaming.
As kings have found since the dawn of time, in war,
money counts as much as armies. Wars always cost far
more than originally projected.
A primary architect of the 2003 Iraq War, former deputy
secretary of defence, Paul Wolfowitz, assured Americans
it would only cost $40 billion. The cost of occupying
Iraq would be paid, he claimed, by plundering its oil.
Wolfowitz now heads the World Bank.
Speaking of epic idiocy, enter the man selected by
Wolfowitz to become proconsul of U.S.-occupied Iraq, a
bumbling conservative Republican hack named Paul Bremer.
During the 14 months he ran Iraq, Bremer committed two
enormous follies. He dissolved Iraq’s army and police,
then fired all government employees who were members of
Saddam’s Ba’athist Party. Iraq was left without security
forces or functioning government. Chaos ensued.
For a few hundred million, the U.S. could have hired
much of Saddam’s army, security forces and bureaucrats.
Instead, the Cheney/Bush administration declared them
outlaws and began using Shia militias and death squads
to fight the Sunni resistance, triggering today’s
ghastly Sunni-Shia civil war.
Chaos in U.S.-occupied Iraq, and the collapse of its
banking system and Ba’ath Party-run social programs,
forced Washington to rush 363 tons of $100 US bills to
Baghdad. This money, which belonged to Iraq, came from
the UN-run “Oil for Food” program.
Bremer’s people dished out $12 billion US by the
truckload. Another $800 million US was stolen by
U.S.-appointed officials of Iraq’s defense ministry.
But $12.8 missing billions is just the tip of the
U.S corporations in bed with the Republican Party’s
right wing, like Halliburton, and mercenary-supplier,
Blackwater, made billions out of Iraq. Halliburton,
whose former CEO was v-p Cheney, was awarded $16 billion
US in sweetheart Iraq contracts.
This week, House Democrats opened hearings that finally
began to expose the tsunami of corruption that
accompanied the occupation and plundering of Iraq.
Billions more of fraud and thievery concealed by the
White House will likely be uncovered.
The whole sordid story of the 100,000 “private
contractors” employed by the U.S. in Iraq has only begun
to emerge. According to the U.S. Government
Accountability Office, at least 48,000 of these — let’s
use the correct term, mercenaries — are private gunmen
working for hundreds of U.S. military corporations like
Blackwater and Vinnell. These heavily-armed desperados
are a law unto themselves and are under no supervision.
Some mercenaries make $1,000 US daily in Iraq and
Blackwater reputedly has the world’s biggest private
military base with a reported 20,000 personnel and a
fleet of aircraft. Such huge numbers of mercenaries are
a potential menace.
They could also pose a serious internal danger to
America, given the close links of some to extreme
rightists in the U.S.
The White House wants to help pay for its foreign wars
by slashing spending on health and seniors. While the
Washington, D.C., police no longer dare patrol
crime-infested southern parts of America’s capitol,
“President” Cheney and “v-p” Bush are sending the 82nd
Airborne Division to try to pacify Baghdad. If this
isn’t the extreme theatre of the absurd, I don’t know
Copyright © 2006, Canoe Inc.