Monday, June 3, 2013

Iraq War - And The Winners Are?

In January 2003 a CBS poll showed that 63% of Americans wanted a diplomatic solution to the US’s problem with Iraq. 62% believed that war would increase the threat of terrorism. 77% wanted real proof that Iraq had nuclear weapons. But in March that year the US, UK, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq, ostensibly to protect the world from an immediate and intolerable threat from weapons of mass destruction, and to free the Iraqi people. In 2005 the CIA released a report stating that no such weapons existed in Iraq.

From an analysis of 31,500 violent incidents between 20 March 2003 and 14 March 2013, Iraq Body Count reported that between 112,017 and 122,438 Iraqi civilians were killed. Reuters, cited on Huffington Post, puts that figure at 125,000, and deaths of soldiers at about 130,000.

An additional 1.7 million people have been displaced and 365,000 have been wounded. Now that’s freedom for you. After the fall of Hussein, US Commander in Iraq General Tommy Franks is reported to have said “we don’t do body counts” [Reuters]. Inconvenient, I guess. These figures don’t take into account subsequent deaths indirectly caused by the war. Suicides. Disease. 

Anybody with any sense could see that the war in Afghanistan was a thinly veiled preparation for a war in Iraq for which there was no justification and which took such a toll on human life. The financial cost was huge, also. President Obama put the cost of the war in Iraq at $1 trillion. But in all, the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan over the past ten years have cost the US about $3.7 trillion and counting. And the winners were?

In the short term, the contractors providing services at the expense of the US taxpayer - $138 billion worth of government contracts. Controversy about corruption rages over the company that got the lion’s share, Haliburton, awarded a $7 billion contract in a process that only allowed them to bid.

Once the war was ostensibly over, contractors stayed for security and to rebuild Iraq. Haliburton got a $2.5 billion contract to restore Iraqi Oil. It was supposed to pay for itself and for the reconstruction of the whole country.  

The project was a horror story from start to finish. Haliburton tried to drill a tunnel through a geological fault zone that they had been warned was unstable and impossible to drill. The New York Times reported that when army geologist Robert Sanders came to inspect the work in 2004, his comment was “no driller in his right mind would have gone ahead.” Money was poured down the toilet, and accountability blatantly avoided.

Getting off the subject of bungling winners, enter China, today. It has been pouring workers and billions of dollars into Iraq’s oil industry. It buys nearly half of everything Iraq produces and is currently bidding for Exon Mobil's stake.

China’s oil companies are state-owned and don’t answer to shareholders. They’re not in it for the profit, they’re in it for the control. So they accept Iraq’s rigorous terms, which western oil companies reject or balk at. And China doesn’t care how little its workers make or under what conditions they work. Nor do Chinese interfere in religious matters. Ironically, that Chinese investment has contributed to Iraq’s oil production shields the US. From a spike in oil prices caused by sanctions on Iran.

So everybody wins. Except for the dead. And the Iraqi citizens whose lives are still in turmoil. Whose country is still torn apart. 

Public domain photo of US soldier and Iraqi child