BRANDOLAND: Talking to God...For You!

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

MORE ON THE VIRTUES OF THE $50,000,000 BRIDGE AND A $2,000 HAMMER...

Great article from Krugman today (NY Times) re: US firms getting their way in Iraq.

Here's a quick excerpt -

"For example, in July two enterprising Middle Eastern firms started offering cellphone service in Baghdad, setting up jury-rigged systems compatible with those of neighboring countries. Since the collapse of Baghdad's phone system has been a major source of postwar problems, coalition authorities should have been pleased.

But no: the authorities promptly shut down the services. Cell service, they said, could be offered only by the winners in a bidding process — one whose rules, revealed on July 31, seemed carefully designed to shut out any non-American companies. (In the face of strenuous protests the rules were revised, but still seem to favor the usual suspects.) Oddly, the announcement of the winners, originally scheduled for Sept. 5, keeps being delayed. Meanwhile, only Paul Bremer and his people have cellphones — and, thanks to the baffling decision to give that contract to MCI, even those phones don't work very well. (Aside from the fact that its management perpetrated history's biggest accounting fraud, MCI has no experience in building cell networks.)

Then there's electricity. One reason Iraq still faces blackouts is that local experts and institutions were excluded from the repair business. Instead, the exclusive contract was given to Bechtel, whose Republican ties are almost as strong as Halliburton's. And if a recent story in The Washington Post is accurate, Bechtel continues to ignore pleas by Iraqi engineers for essential spare parts.

Meanwhile, several companies with close personal ties to top administration officials have begun brazenly offering their services as facilitators for companies seeking Iraqi business."

Cool.

more later...

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