AS THE Anglo-American axis marches towards Baghdad, it may be useful for the public to get a peep at some of the business operations expected to shape the post-Saddam reconstruction of Iraq. On Jan 16, the Wall Street Journal reported that “early spoils (of the war) would go to companies needed to keep Iraq’s already run-down oil operations running.”
It added that this would include “oil service firms such as Halliburton Co where Vice-President Dick Cheney formerly served as chief executive.” When he left the firm to become US Vice-President, “Cheney received at least US$19mil (RM72mil) from Halliburton.” Halliburton and another firm, Schlumberger, “are seen as favourites for what could be as much as US$1.5bil (RM5.7bil) in contracts” after the war.
It has been estimated that repairing pipelines and export terminals apart from developing new fields would require US$38bil (RM144bil). It explains why the Feb 10 issue of Business Week reported that, “Since the US military would control Iraq’s oil and gas deposits for some time, US companies could be in line for a lucrative slice of that business” and “outfits such as Halliburton Co and Baker Hughes Inc, as well as construction giant Bechtel Group Inc, could feel just as victorious” as the US military after the war. Though the Anglo-American war on Iraq is motivated by a number of factors, the benefits that would accrue to certain business interests would have played some part.
It is not a coincidence that Cheney has been one of the most persistent and consistent advocates of war. On Aug 26, last year, he was already pressing hard for the ouster of President Saddam Hussein.
Bob Woodward, the respected American journalist of Watergate fame, noted in his recent book Bush at War that “Cheney was beyond hell-bent for action against Saddam. It was as if nothing else existed.” Cheney and other hawks in the Bush administration such as Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, his Deputy Paul Wolfowitz and Pentagon adviser Richard Perle have often talked about increasing Iraq’s production to its full capacity, estimated at around 8 million barrels a day, and using the revenue from this export to finance the country’s infrastructure reconstruction.
Of course a lot of this reconstruction will revolve around rebuilding the infrastructure destroyed by the Anglo-American axis’ relentless bombing since March 20.
It is the same perverted psychology that insists on feeding the Iraqi populace and supplying the sick with medicines after depriving them of these essentials for 12 long years through the most cruel and comprehensive sanctions on a regime in recent history. It is alleged that the Bush administration is planning yet another move of similar diabolical logic.
Plans are afoot, it appears, to use Iraq’s oil revenue to finance the Anglo-American “liberation of Iraq.” It would then be one of those rare occasions in history where a conquered people pay for their own conquest!
DR CHANDRA MUZAFFAR,
International Movement for a Just World (JUST).