They Died for Halliburton

The mask came off this week. George “No More Beating Around The” Bush came right out and admitted it, on camera no less. American soldiers have died in Iraq, and are still dying, said the Commander-in-Chief, so that Halliburton, Bechtel and other corporate contributors to his campaign can make money.

When it came down to money, Bush dropped all pretense. He blatantly didn’t care whether he looked like a villain or a weeping clown.

“It makes sense,” said the Selected One, for “countries that have risked lives” to “have the benefit” from the contracts to rebuild Iraq.

Countries that did not support Bush’s plan for an unprovoked, shoot-first preemptive strike on Iraq, including countries that merely asked him to hold off for 30 days before invading unilaterally, need not apply.

“Friendly coalition folks risked their lives, and therefore the contracting is going to reflect that, and that’s what the US taxpayers expect,” Bush said.

(No, Mr. President. What US taxpayers expect is a legitimately elected government, a president with some integrity and intelligence, a congress with some courage, clean air to breath and water to drink, a functioning economy, a foreign policy that doesn’t make us cringe when we think about it ….)

The naked admission of the war’s profit motive is but the most recent example of a new trend in Washington: officials coming right out and admitting the obvious. Recently Pentagon advisor Richard Perle, for example, confessed openly that the entire invasion of Iraq was probably illegal.

Apparently no one in DC sees any need to fear repercussions. This is an administration that no longer cares what anyone thinks about what it thinks. The more it gets away with, the more it wants. If Bush had the slightest apprehension that he might not get his way, he would speak in a different tone with us.

Nevertheless, judging by the initial response to this latest policy pronouncement (it has been met with immediate and overwhelming international condemnation), the plan needs a little tweaking. With the following minor changes, we could perhaps cut the president a little slack and get behind him on this.

ONE, No American company that did business with Saddam Hussein while he was brutalizing his own people should get a contract. This clause would exclude most of the cronies of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.

TWO, The managers and directors of any company that is found to have overcharged the American people under these contracts should go to jail. (The Pentagon says that Halliburton has already overcharged them by $61 million for gasoline.) If Ashcroft still wants to hold anybody without benefit or trial or counsel, he could start with these folks.

THREE, Since the plan is based on consideration of “those who risked their lives,” all profits beyond reasonable and necessary expenses (subject to rigorous independent auditing) should be divided among the families of coalition soldiers who lost their lives in the invasion or suffered long-lasting disabilities. Or is the president under the impression that the lives of Halliburton, Bechtel, Fluor etc. executives were at risk?

FOUR, Since Iraq is pre-eminent among “countries that have risked lives” in this conflict, an amount equal to the total value of all contracts should first be set aside for direct reparations to the families of Iraqi civilians killed or maimed by coalition forces.

FIVE, Avoiding even the appearance of impropriety should be paramount, meaning that the administration of Iraq’s natural resources should be turned over at once to the United Nations.

I know, I know, it’s nuts. The very sight of Bush on TV these days is enough to drive us crazy. Nothing he says or does can surprise us anymore. His shamelessness knows no limit. Increasingly we simply can’t bear to look at him.

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, just released a scorching new CD, Way Down Here.

He can be reached at: davidvest@springmail.com

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



More articles by:

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, have just released a scorching new CD, Serve Me Right to Shuffle. His essay on Tammy Wynette is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on art, music and sex, Serpents in the Garden.

March 22, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Italy, Germany and the EU’s Future
David Rosen
The Further Adventures of the President and the Porn Star
Gary Leupp
Trump, the Crown Prince and the Whole Ugly Big Picture
The Hudson Report
Modern-Day Debtors’ Prisons and Debt in Antiquity
Steve Martinot
The Properties of Property
Binoy Kampmark
Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and Surveillance Capitalism
Jeff Berg
Russian to Judgment
Gregory Barrett
POSSESSED! Europe’s American Demon Must Be Exorcised
Robby Sherwin
What Do We Do About Facebook?
Trump Spokesperson Commemorates Invading Iraq by Claiming U.S. Doesn’t Dictate to Other Countries; State Dept. Defends Invasion
Rob Okun
Students: Time is Ripe to Add Gender to Gun Debate
Michael Barker
Tory Profiteering in Russia and Putin’s Debt of Gratitude
March 21, 2018
Paul Street
Time is Running Out: Who Will Protect Our Wrecked Democracy from the American Oligarchy?
Mel Goodman
The Great Myth of the So-Called “Adults in the Room”
Chris Floyd
Stumbling Blocks: Tim Kaine and the Bipartisan Abettors of Atrocity
Eric Draitser
The Political Repression of the Radical Left in Crimea
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Threatens Wider War Against the Kurds
John Steppling
It is Us
Thomas Knapp
Death Penalty for Drug Dealers? Be Careful What You Wish for, President Trump
Manuel García, Jr.
Why I Am a Leftist (Vietnam War)
Isaac Christiansen
A Left Critique of Russiagate
Howard Gregory
The Unemployment Rate is an Inadequate Reporter of U.S. Economic Health
Ramzy Baroud
Who Wants to Kill Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah?
Roy Morrison
Trouble Ahead: The Trump Administration at Home and Abroad
Roger Hayden
Too Many Dead Grizzlies
George Wuerthner
The Lessons of the Battle to Save the Ancient Forests of French Pete
Binoy Kampmark
Fictional Free Trade and Permanent Protectionism: Donald Trump’s Economic Orthodoxy
Rivera Sun
Think Outside the Protest Box
March 20, 2018
Jonathan Cook
US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank
Jeffrey St. Clair
How They Sold the Iraq War
Chris Busby
Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout
Nick Alexandrov
Washington’s Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen
David Mattson
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
Paul Edwards
My Lai and the Bad Apples Scam
Julian Vigo
The Privatization of Water and the Impoverishment of the Global South
Mir Alikhan
Trump and Pompeo on Three Issues: Paris, Iran and North Korea
Seiji Yamada
Preparing For Nuclear War is Useless
Gary Leupp
Brennan, Venality and Turpitude
Martha Rosenberg
Why There’s a Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s on World Water Day, March 22
John Pilger
Skripal Case: a Carefully-Constructed Drama?
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us