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Since Iraqi oil "belongs to the Iraqi people," as the Bush administration has repeatedly assured the world, why doesn’t American oil belong to the American people? Pamela Vest (yes, we’re related; she’s my sister-in-law) would like to know. She writes from one of the sectors of Florida not yet under full control of the Jeb […]

the Corporate War on Iraq

by DAVID VEST

Since Iraqi oil "belongs to the Iraqi people," as the Bush administration has repeatedly assured the world, why doesn’t American oil belong to the American people?
Pamela Vest (yes, we’re related; she’s my sister-in-law) would like to know. She writes from one of the sectors of Florida not yet under full control of the Jeb Bush regime.
It’s a question so simple, direct and unanswerable that it deserves to be put to any politician who comes anywhere near a microphone.

Might be a good idea to put it to ol’ Jeb himself if you run across him down there in the Neverglades, Pam. Meanwhile, maybe somebody will ask Ari Fleischer the same thing.

Does Saudi oil belong to the Saudi people, I wonder? (See how this kind of thinking gets out of hand?)

We had better not ask our own selves too many questions like that, ’cause it might make us mad and turn us into commonists or something. Then we’d start, ever so politely, saying things like … perhaps President Bush would be good enough to use the military to seize America’s oil on our behalf, as soon as he’s done seizing Iraq’s oil for the Iraqis.
Naturally, this is the kind of thing President Bush could easily get wrong. Instead of seizing America’s oil for Americans, he might just try one more time to seize the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for Exxon.

I’m not calling for him to drop cluster bombs on Exxon headquarters — not yet. I’m hoping Pam’s question is a much heavier and more deeply effective weapon than the kind they used to try to get Saddam. If enough people start asking it out loud, it will be.

Next thing you know, we’d be wanting to redistribute wealth in this country. (What do you think Bush is doing with his tax cut program? Remember Nasdaqistan? Where did it go?)

Here’s an equally disruptive idea — while we’re "rebuilding" Iraq, shouldn’t we please have the simple decency to refrain from giving any contracts to companies that have made big bucks doing business with Saddam Hussein? Ask your elected reps where they stand on that one.

A parallel suggestion: it would be unseemly for companies earning huge profits from the destruction of Iraq to expect to get rich from the reconstruction of it.

Would you be (a) surprised (b) disgusted (c) outraged (d) all of the above and more, to learn that corporations like Halliburton were "embedded" among the coalition troops right from the beginning (like "journalists" only with much better access), providing "logistical support"? According to Corpwatch, it’s true, to the tune of close to a billion dollars before we even finish devastating Iraq so they can start rebuilding it. One could be forgiven for asking, who’s over there to provide support for whom? Has anyone from Halliburton been hit by friendly fire? What do you think?
They might as well have covered the face of Saddam’s statue with the corporate flag of Halliburton. This war is more clearly, and more truly, a corporate war than any we have ever fought, from the corporate media to the corporate arms suppliers, one of whom will now supply a "governor" of Iraq who will be "on loan" until any prospect of real change has been extinguished and there is no longer any danger of Osama bin Laden being elected president.

Many people have already realized that they themselves are the ultimate enemy in these corporate wars, along with their environment, their civil liberties and their personal security. Every day more people around the world are waking up to what is really going on.

If you think people in Baghdad were happy to see the symbols of Saddam’s repression destroyed, can you imagine the world party that will take place when the symbols of corporate domination come down?

The day is coming — it had better come soon — when the White House and the Congress and the Pentagon will no longer be branch offices of Raytheon, Brown & Root, DynCorp, etc.

Perhaps also in that day, the Supreme Court will feel less like a Southern Baptist church and more like a hall of justice.

Till then, corporate domination and fundamentalism will remain strangely linked.

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch.

He can be reached at: davidvest@springmail.com

Visit his website at http://www.rebelangel.com