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The Economic Invasion of Iraq

By PAM BERNS
The Bush Agenda: Invading the World One Economy at a Time by Antonia Juhasz is a shocking book. Juhasz, an international trade and economic policy analyst, documents the leadup to the Iraq war, as the U.S.—in exchange for corporate profits—closed its eyes to the genocide Saddam wrought on Iran and the Kurds. India’s The Organizer called this book “a meticulous exposé of corporate America’s intentions in the Gulf.”
     From outlining the history of the World Bank to the Iraq Petroleum Law, Juhasz illustrates how this administration’s key players were “committed to absolute U.S. military dominance and corporate expansion that have found their fulfillment in the Bush Agenda” and orchestrated our invasion into Iraq.
     The author writes that Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz “worked together in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George W.H. Bush and George W. Bush.” Familiar government figures in the corporate revolving door also keep re-emerging in this scenario, including Henry Kissinger and George Shultz. It is amazing how much power has been in the hands of so few.
    Shultz served as president of the Bechtel Group, the largest construction and engineering firm in the United States, from 1974 until 1982, when Reagan appointed him to be secretary of state—a post he held until 1989. Currently, Shultz serves as a director at Bechtel. “The War on Terror has been very good for the Bechtel men and their company,” writes Juhasz.
    Halliburton, “the largest oil and gas services company in the world,”employed Cheney from 1995 until 2000, as the Republican House Appropriations Committee “transformed Halliburton into a ‘virtual Pentagon.’” Cheney, who previously served in Congress, was chief of staff for Ford and secretary of defense under George H.W. Bush. He hired key Pentagon staff to work for Halliburton while also doubling the company’s U.S. government contracts, writes Juhasz. In 2000, Cheney became George W. Bush’s vice president. Halliburton’s company Brown & Root was awarded numerous no-bid contracts in the current Iraq war, while performing poorly.
    Kissinger, Nixon’s secretary of state, created his discreet company, Kissinger Associates, in 1982. It provides advice and risk-assessments to multinational corporations. After working in the State Department from 1969 to 1983, Lawrence Eagleburger became president of Kissinger Associates from 1984 to 1989. Kissinger Associates was instrumental in persuading the Reagan administration to reverse a ban on loan guarantees to Iraq so U.S. taxpayer-funded lending institutions could provide loans to Iraq to buy goods produced in the U.S. and finance a pipeline to be built by Bechtel, writes Juhasz.
    “In many ways, corporations have supplanted governments as the dominant economic force in the world,” says Juhasz. She writes that the corporate giants—Chevron, Halliburton, Lockheed Martin and Bechtel—are the “key pillars of the Bush Agenda: oil, war and building the infrastructure of corporate globalization.” Writes Juhasz, “In Iraq, many of these corporations helped to arm Hussein, lobbied for war against him and are now profiting from his removal.”
    The Bush Agenda outlines the history of U.S. and Iraq relations. Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in 1980, and the Iran-Iraq war continued until 1988. During that time, the U.S. had an “on again, off again” relationship with Saddam, as the U.S.-Iraq Business Forum (including Bechtel, Lockheed, Exxon and Mobil) encouraged the Reagan and G.W. Bush administrations, claiming that assisting Saddam was in the best economic and strategic interests of the U.S.
     Juhasz writes that between 1983 and 1988 Saddam dropped 13,000 to 19,500 chemical bombs on Iran and the Kurds. On March 5, 1984, the U.S. State Department issued a public condemnation of Iraq’s use of chemical weapons in the war on Iran. Four days later, “the State Department told the Export-Import Bank that it should start granting short-term loans to Iraq ‘for foreign relations purposes.’” Where was our outrage? In 1985 Saddam nixed the pipeline deal.
     Juhasz writes that in the summer of 1988, Bechtel signed a contract with Hussein to manage the PC-2 petrochemical complex south of Baghdad, just four months after Hussein used mustard gas against the Iraqi Kurdish city of Halabja.” Bechtel supplied “dual-use technology.”
    According to the Middle East Defense News, “A key feature of the PC-2 project was the plan to manufacture ethylene oxide, a precursor chemical that is easily converted to thyodiglycol, which is used in one step to make mustard gas.” In 1991, following the first Gulf War, when UN weapons inspectors entered Iraq, they called the PC-2 industrial complex “a major part of the smoking gun that proved Iraq was pursuing a weapons-of-mass-destruction program,” writes Juhasz.
In response to the chemical weapons launched in Halabja, in 1988, “the U.S. Senate passed a tough trade sanctions bill against Iraq that would have significantly curtailed U.S. corporate dealings with the country. But the Reagan administration, led by Secretary Shultz, lobbied vehemently against the sanctions, and they were not enacted,” Juhasz added.
    L. Paul Bremer worked for Kissinger Associates from 1989 to 2000.  After the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, the Bush administration hired Bremer to run the Coalition Provisional Authority according to a $250 million plan proposed by the company Bearing Point (former name KPMG). Bremer dictated orders, including De-Ba’athification of Iraqi Society, dissolving army and intelligence services, granting the U.S. full immunity from Iraqi laws, and privatizing all 192 government-owned industries. Many experts agree that this ill-conceived plan all but created the insurgency.
     The Bush Agenda describes an administration unlikely to choose an end to the Iraq occupation until they have achieved control of the Mideast’s largest undeveloped oil fields and with them, control of the region. Bush has awarded his campaign donors billions in no-bid contracts in Iraq and spent a trillion taxpayer dollars. The war has caused nearly one million deaths. When the Iraqis pass the Petroleum Law that U.S. corporations have laid out for them and oil flows from Iraq to our shores, we will obviously maintain our military presence in Iraq.
     We weren’t on the side of angels at Halabja.

Published: October 14, 2007
Issue: November 2007