Volume , Number 0
There are no articles.Commentary
There are no articles.Culture
There are no articles.Features
Music & Politics
Music & Politics
There are no articles.
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
The Ruse of Reconstruction
T he June 28 transfer of sovereignty from the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and the Iraqi Governing Council to the newly formed, interim Iraqi government is political prestidigitation: it cedes no real political or economic power to the Iraqis. It acquired virtual, but not actual control of its economy. That, too, for the foreseeable future, will remain under U.S. control.
While the U.S. shadow government, buttressed by the presence of 140,000 U.S. troops, has been much discussed, the U.S. stranglehold on Iraq’s economic reconstruction has received less attention.
To date, the $18.6 billion economic reconstruction of Iraq has been marred by its crass design, modeled on simplistic neoliberal precepts, and its implementation, corrupted by cronyism, secretiveness, and CPA-imposed economic reforms. These aspects of the reconstruction not only undermine the effectiveness of the rebuilding, but they evince that, like the war itself, the reconstruction is a ruse. It primarily serves the private financial interests of a handful of elite, U.S. corporations—and the government officials with personal ties to those corporations—at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer and the economic sovereignty, health, and security of Iraq.
Nearly all of the rebuilding is being done by a handful of U.S. corporations with close personal and business ties to the Bush administration—receiving contracts from the Pentagon, the CPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. In the words of Peter Singer of the Brookings Institute, the reconstruction has become the “biggest market for private military services—ever.” Private military services include all nation-building activities, from contracted security personnel to prison interrogators to engineers to cooks.
From the Administration’s perspective, the privatization of military services and the reconstruction of Iraq promise cost savings through a competitive bidding process. Vice President Cheney, after all, was one of the chief architects of the privatization of military services in the late 1980s—as secretary of defense in the first Bush administration.
Based on the most recent figures provided by the Brookings Institute Iraq Index, Baghdad still suffers from daily power shortages, telephone services are inadequate, and the rebuilding of schools and hospitals has been slow, expensive, and not particularly successful. While the salaries of teachers and police have surpassed what they earned before the occupation, unemployment ranges from 45 to 70 percent.
While the disappointing results of the reconstruction are no doubt due in part to the volatile security situation, cronyism has undermined U.S. credibility, systematically relegated Iraqis to subcontractors, and inflated the costs of the reconstruction. A series of reports by the Center for Corporate Policy and the Center for Public Integrity and articles in Newsweek , the New Yorker , and the Nation have exposed the central nodes in the institutionalized network of favoritism and influence peddling that run directly from the deep, government-financed pockets of Vice President Cheney and Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith to the overfed corporate bank accounts of Halliburton and its subsidiary, Kellogg, Root and Brown (KRB); Science Applications International Group (SAIC); and Bechtel, among others.
Prior to becoming vice president, Cheney, as is well known, headed Halliburton from 1995 to 2000. Currently, he still receives more than $150,000 a year in deferred compensation (last year he earned $178,437) and holds $18 million in stock options. Since the start of the reconstruction, Halliburton has been awarded $17 billion in contracts to repair and upgrade oil fields and power plants, supply oil and gasoline to Iraq, and provide meals and laundry services to U.S. troops. As a result, Halliburton stock has increased by 50 percent. According to Stephen Pizzo, writing for the Center for Corporate Policy, the company reported a net profit of $26 million in the second quarter of 2003, in contrast to a $498 million loss in the same period in 2002. In a decision that will only enhance Halliburton’s influence in post-Saddam Iraq, President Bush signed Executive Order 13303 in May 2003. EO 13303 grants sweeping legal immunity to U.S. corporations that gain possession or control of Iraqi oil or oil products.
The network of favoritism and influence peddling is extensive enough to include long-standing political and military officials and individuals embedded in the conservative corporate-military patronage complex. Bechtel, the recipient of nearly $3 billion in contracts to repair schools, airports, and the seaport of Umm Qasr, has used the connections of board members George Schultz, the former Secretary of State, and retired Army General Jack Sheehan to ensure its presence and influence in the reconstruction process. In November, the CPA awarded mobile telephone services contracts to friends of Ahmed Chalabi. Jack Kemp has started a company called Free Market International, an international company that trades in gas, petroleum, and other resources. General Tommy Franks—the same general who commanded the invasion of Iraq—will sit on the advisory board. L. Marc Zell, former law partner of Douglas Feith, has formed a marketing company, the Iraqi International Law Group, run by Salem Chalabi, the nephew of Ahmed Chalabi. In another case, Thomas Foley, chair of Bush’s Connecticut campaign finance committee in 2000, now manages the privatization of Iraq’s state- owned businesses.
To protect the profits of his business cronies, Bush persuaded the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a U.S. government agency, to insure U.S. businesses in Iraq. If in the near future the Iraqi government expropriates any businesses, the U.S. Treasury—supported by U.S. tax dollars—will have to compensate those businesses for their losses.
Of the 115 project descriptions released by the CPA, fewer than 25 mentioned hiring Iraqis or otherwise using Iraqi resources. Equally important, it has made the reconstruction process more expensive than it needs to be. According to Congressperson Henry Waxman (D-CA), members of the Iraqi Governing Council claim that the costs to the U.S. taxpayer of many projects could be reduced by 90 percent if the projects were awarded to local Iraqi companies rather than to large government contractors like Halliburton.
The reconstruction has also been marred by the lack of transparency and accountability. Since the vast majority of the recipients of the contracts are private corporations, the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act do not apply. Thus, the corporations control what information, including the number of their employees killed in Iraq, is made public.
For the most part, the Pentagon does not know how many private military employees or foreign subcontractors it has working for it. According to Dan Guttman, a fellow at Johns Hopkins who specializes in the study of military services, after years of cutting government jobs in favor of hiring private firms, “contractors have become so big and entrenched that it’s a fiction that the government maintains any control.”
To prime Iraq’s transformation into a future free-trade, oil abundant enclave of the U.S. economy, the CPA moved quickly to implement the following changes to the Iraqi economy: all tariffs have been suspended; a 15 percent cap has been placed on all future taxes; and the CPA has tried to sell 150 of Iraq’s 200 state-owned enterprises, ranging from sulfur mining and pharmaceutical companies to the Iraqi national airline. Most significantly, the CPA passed Order 39, which allows foreign investors to own Iraqi companies with no requirements for reinvesting profits into the country.
Though critics maintain that such actions potentially violate international law governing military occupation—particularly Article 43 of the Hague Regulations of 1907 and the fourth Geneva Convention of 1949—the Bush administration has effectively side-stepped any attempt to reform the reconstruction process. So far, efforts to prevent the continuation of the corporate contract bonanza and profiteering, such as the proposed Clean Contracting in Iraq Act of 2003 (HR 3275) and the War Profiteering Act (HR 3673), have had little impact.
Essentially, the reconstruction of Iraq is, in the words of Naomi Klein, “a vast protectionist racket, a neocon New Deal that transfers limitless public funds—in contracts, loans, and insurance—to private firms, and even gets rid of the foreign competition to boot, under the guise of ‘national security’.” This neocon New Deal, marketed as a reconstruction, has enhanced the private, financial interests of the vice president and his corporate comrades in contracts. It has spurned the public interest of the Iraqi and U.S. people and, unless reformed, it will not promote economic health and security in Iraq.
Patrick Cannon is an assistant professor of Government at California State University, Sacramento where he teaches international politics and international political economy.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.