Having destroyed Iraq, the United States now proposes to rebuild it with the money generated from the sale of Iraqi oil, which will be flowing again, we are told, within three weeks. Thus will Iraq’s natural wealth be pumped directly into the coffers of Bechtel, Halliburton and other administration cronies. Call them DubyaCo.
You will perhaps have noticed that no one is telling us that electricity, water and the rule of law will be restored throughout Iraq within three weeks. These things are not feasible. But oil will flow.
"Iraqi oil belongs to the Iraqi people," says Ari Fleischer, famously referring I suppose to what will be left of it after DubyaCo "recoups expenses."
How long will the U.S. be in Iraq? Ask rather, how long will money flow from the spigot? And then ask how much American blood and treasure it took to get it flowing, right into the wallets of Cheney’s pals and Bush’s supporters. Everyone under the command of Tommy Franks was effectively part of a mercenary expedition, employed at taxpayer expense and deployed in the service of "American interests," i.e., DubyaCo.
Contracts to rebuild Iraq "could possibly create jobs here as well as overseas," says the Houston Chronicle, enthusiastically boosterising the trickle-down effect. Perhaps the "reconstruction" of Iraq could turn out to be something like the Gulf Freeway in Texas, a contractor’s paradise and a motorist’s nightmare, said to have been "under construction" almost continuously since the day it opened in the 1940s — and slated for still more construction on into the new century. They’ll be doing construction on the Gulf Freeway long after today’s autos are all rusting away in the junkyard.
Who knows, Iraq might even benefit from one or two big dam projects! After all, dams are a Bechtel specialty.
During the 60s and 70s, the excruciating folly of U.S. involvement in Vietnam became obvious to anyone with a conscience or an education. But folly is not the word for what is happening in Iraq. Compared to Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, Johnson and McNamara look like the Innocents Abroad, or characters out of Ring Lardner. Even Nixon looks naive by contrast. Kissinger (like Hitchens) must be slack-jawed with admiration.
There is a reason why all the Dumb-Ass Dubya jokes have been drying up lately. It isn’t for the reason the Foxadelphians think , either. They believe people have stopped mocking him because he suddenly seems heroic. Even Howard Dean says people admire Bush because, like him or not, he acts like a leader. (The gentle reader may wish to pause here and gag before reading on. Or to recall Dylan’s advice: "Don’t follow leaders.")
The fact is that people have stopped laughing at Bush because he’s no longer the village idiot. He’s the village tyrant now. After what he did to Iraq, after he lied to this country to persuade it to go to war, nothing he ever does will be funny anymore.
There were those among us who thought that if we kept harping on the "Bush is an ignoramus" theme, why, one day we’d all wake up and laugh him right out of office, no need for an election. We dwelt on his inability to pronounce "nuclear" (neither could Jimmy Carter) or string two sentences together as comforting proof of his stupidity, as though he were more an embarrassment than a danger.
But the point was never what we thought of him. We are finally beginning to get that now. It was what he thought of us. (Has any American president ever shown less interest in the American people and their well-being?)
The point is not even that he stole the presidency. After all, so more-or-less did Kennedy, with a little help from Mayor Daley. Lyndon Johnson was elected to the U.S. Senate by a margin of votes supplied by dead people. For that matter, what important U.S. election hasn’t been effectively stolen by corporate money lately?
The point is that the country and, for all practical purposes, the world are now being run for the benefit of DubyaCo. Getting rid of Bush won’t necessarily dismantle the enterprise. There are too many wholly-owned subsidiaries.
Anyway, the naming rights will be up for sale in 2004. KerryCo? LiebermanCo? Or will it be ClintonCo in 2008? Would you be more comfortable with a social liberal supervising the looting of Iraq?
DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. His scorching new CD, Way Down Here, is now available from CounterPunch.
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