Same War, Different Day

 

In July of 1970, singer Edwin Starr rose to the top of the record charts with one of many anti-war songs of the Vietnam era.  There are many reasons why his hit record made it to the top, but one had to be the one-word title that says it all: “War.”  Of course the background sound and his deep voice that seemed to be yelling at the listener with words I can still hear: “War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.” 

            Well, he was only partly right in his answer to that simple question, because war is good for corporate profits and getting “elected.”  I put quotes around “elected” for the obvious reason, which I need not go into here.

            I write these words the day after the traditional Presidential inauguration and I was emotionally moved by what Steve Lopez wrote in his regular column in the Los Angeles Times.  The title caught my eye immediately and says it all: “Mothers Mourn as the Elite Party On.”  The story revolves around one mother Lopez spoke to on the phone.  She was among a group of protestors gathering near the inaugural celebration, which cost an estimated $40 million – a truly obscene amount of money, mostly paid by corporations.  This mother lost her son last year “while searching for weapons of mass destruction.”  Remember those infamous WMD’s don’t you?  This mother, who came home one day to the spectacle of three uniformed military officers sitting in her living room, said “I just collapsed on the floor screaming, and I think it’s the closest I could have come to death without dying.”

            The president dined on lobster, scalloped crab and roasted quail, while an American soldier was killed in Iraq in one incident, while a car bomb exploded outside a Shiite mosque in Baghdad, killing at least 14 people and wounding 40.  This brings the total to 1,371 American soldiers killed in this invasion of a foreign country that posed no threat to us, while about 100,000 Iraqi citizens have died. Over 10,000 American soldiers have been wounded, although you never see the flag-covered coffins coming into the country, since our “free press” fails to cover it, on orders from the Bush administration.

            As noted above, corporate interests are involved in this invasion.  Plenty of proof of such interests has already been provided, mostly coming from alternative news sources.  One more piece of interesting information, however, comes from a web site I have bookmarked, called Iraq Coalition Casualties (www.icasualties.org).  Among the many pieces of information found on this site is that of a partial list of contractors killed, which gives their names (when made available), nationality, the circumstances of their death, where they were killed and the companies they represented.  Of the total of 206 killed so far, at least 75 were Americans, while another 26 were British.  The remaining 105 came from a variety of countries, including Canada, Australia, South Africa, Nepal (12 were executed last August), Turkey, Pakistan, India, Bulgaria, Jordan, Philippines, and even Fiji, among others. 

            Among the companies represented by those contractors killed include: Halliburton (no surprise here), KBR (a subsidiary of Halliburton), Kroll Associates, BearingPoint, Inc., Global Risk Strategies, Olive Security, DynCorp, Omega Risk Solutions, Gulf Services Co., Morning Star Co. (a Jordanian services firm – these include the workers from Nepal who were executed), EOD Technologies, Soufan Engineering (U.S. firm), Al Tamimi group (Kuwait-based construction co.), Bulgarian trucking company, InterEnergoServis (Russian company), Granite Services, Inc. (subsidiary of General Electric), Titan National Security Solutions, Blackwater Security Consultants, Yuksel Construction (Turkish company), Cochise Consultancy, Inc., Blackwater Security Consultants, EOD Technology, Inc.  This is a partial list and according to this web site for several who have been killed only their occupation was listed (e.g., truck driver, electrician) but no company was named. 

            Further evidence of corporate involvement in Iraq (and Afghanistan too) comes from a fascinating book called Iraq, Inc., which I have previously written about (http://www.sheldensays.com/Com-thirty-three.htm).  In this book the author notes that Halliburton earned $3.9 billion from the military in 2003, an increase of 680% from 2002 earnings.  Then there is Bechtel, which was awarded a contract worth $2.8 billion to clean up the mess we made by invading Iraq.  A nice racket and very profitable: blow a country to smithereens and then pay private companies to clean up the mess, all at taxpayer expense!

            Meanwhile the estimated costs of the Iraq invasion has reached $150 billion, according to the National Priorities Project, whose web site is: http://costofwar.com/, which is enough money to provide more than 7 million students college scholarships, hire over 2.5 million school teachers for one year, paid for almost 20 million children to attend Head Start for one year, pay for anti-world hunger programs for 6 years, and build more than a million housing units for low income people.  Obviously these are not the priorities of those in power.  The priorities (for both parties, I might add) are to support the “free market” which in reality means that ordinary people have to behave according to free market principles, while corporations enjoy taxpayer subsidies (e.g., no-bid contracts for “re-build” Iraq).  Many years ago Benito Mussolini summed this up nicely, when he stated that: “Fascism should rather be called corporatism, as it is the merging of government and corporate power.

            I came across this quote from the web site of a group called “Project for the Old American Century,” which is a counter to the rightwing “Project for the New American Century.”  The latter group, by the way, was formed in 1997 as an “educational organization whose goal is to promote American global leadership.”  They are dedicated to the principles that “American leadership is good both for America and for the world; that such leadership requires military strength, diplomatic energy and commitment to moral principle; and that too few political leaders today are making the case for global leadership.” Via various “issue briefs, research papers, advocacy journalism, conferences, and seminars,” this group seeks “to explain what American world leadership entails. It will also strive to rally support for a vigorous and principled policy of American international involvement and to stimulate useful public debate on foreign and defense policy and America's role in the world.” (http://www.newamericancentury.org/)  The project director is William Kristol, who is the editor of the ultra-conservative “Weekly Standard.” Before starting this publication, he “led the Project for the Republican Future, where he helped shape the strategy that produced the 1994 Republican congressional victory.” Before this, he was the chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle during the first Bush Administration and from 1985 to 1988; he was the chief of staff and counselor to Secretary of Education William Bennett. He was a faculty member of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government (1983-1985) and the Department of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania (1979-1983).  (This shows you that not all college professors are “left-wing.”)  Others involved have similar backgrounds.

            In contrast, the goal of the Project for the Old American Century is as follows: “We aim to make use of the internet as if it were Radio Free America, or Resistance Radio. The voices exposing the lies and hypocrisy of the far right as they legislate in favor of their campaign donors to the detriment of citizen health and the environment will be heard. Those who would lie us into believing that a defenseless third world nation posed an immediate threat, kill hundreds of thousands, spread deadly depleted uranium across a country, and make billions in profit for the companies of which they are former CEOs will have their daily actions documented here. We will be the free press.” (http://www.oldamericancentury.org/principles.htm)  The Project is a “grass-roots organization that strives to protect and strengthen democracy primarily by disseminating unreported and underreported news stories from a perspective untainted by political or corporate sponsorship.  The Project was founded in 2002 in response to a rigged election, reduced civil liberties, a hijacking of our domestic and foreign policies by the energy/defense industries, and a compliant corporate media that refused to make these problems prominent in our national consciousness.  We felt it our duty as patriots to create a web-based independent media outlet where we can not only debunk the myth of the liberal media but expose the corruption and cronyism taking place at the highest levels of government and corporate power.”

One of the leaders of this project is Jack Dalton, who is a 60 year old disabled Vietnam veteran currently living in Portland, Oregon.  Another is W. David Jenkins, described as a “writer/activist” along with Linda Gale Nolen, who is “a free lance writer and artist living in a cabin in the forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains.”  Another contributor to this project is Donna Marsh O’Connor, whose daughter, Vanessa Lang Langer, was on the 93rd floor of the World Trade Center Tower II on September 11, 2001.

            I would encourage readers to study these two organizations carefully and come to your own conclusion about which one represents the average American citizen.  Just reading some of their respective commentaries has caused me to reach the obvious conclusion that one fully supports the invasion of Iraq and the policies of the Bush administration while the other one does not.  Need I say more?