BRANDOLAND: Talking to God...For You!

Friday, June 24, 2005


Gas prices climbing. I'm thinking...$2.85 for the cheap stuff here in Hollywood by the end of next week, just in time for the 4th of July weekend.

But don't worry; OPEC will announce "something" to reduce prices soon.

UNFORTUNATELY, the price WE PAY will not fall until July 9 or 10.

They'll squeeze us for that extra weekend after the 4th.


Now - for the past few days, I've posted articles dealing with Iraq, the Downing Street Memo, the missing Iraqi "reconstruction" cash (some 8-9 BILLION dollars!), shenanigans, American troops w/out decent equipment, and dead defense contractors who may or may not have had serious info re: $ and shenanigans.


"Who profits?" The only question you ever need to ask.


So - I'm gonna draw your attention - once again - to Naomi Klein's article, "Baghdad Year Zero," which originally appeared in Harper's in September of 2004.

It was only after I had been in Baghdad for a month that I found what I was looking for. I had traveled to Iraq a year after the war began, at the height of what should have been a construction boom, but after weeks of searching I had not seen a single piece of heavy machinery apart from tanks and humvees. Then I saw it: a construction crane. It was big and yellow and impressive, and when I caught a glimpse of it around a corner in a busy shopping district I thought that I was finally about to witness some of the reconstruction I had heard so much about. But as I got closer I noticed that the crane was not actually rebuilding anything—not one of the bombed-out government buildings that still lay in rubble all over the city, nor one of the many power lines that remained in twisted heaps even as the heat of summer was starting to bear down. No, the crane was hoisting a giant billboard to the top of a three-story building. SUNBULAH: HONEY 100% NATURAL, made in Saudi Arabia.

Seeing the sign, I couldn’t help but think about something SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN had said back in October. IRAQ, he said, is “A HUGE POT OF HONEY THAT'S ATTRACTING A LOT OF FLIES.” The flies McCain was referring to were the Halliburtons and Bechtels, as well as the venture capitalists who flocked to Iraq in the path cleared by Bradley Fighting Vehicles and laser-guided bombs. The honey that drew them was not just NO-BID CONTRACTS and Iraq’s famed OIL WEALTH but the myriad INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES offered by a country that had just been cracked wide open after decades of being sealed off, first by the nationalist economic policies of Saddam Hussein, then by asphyxiating United Nations sanctions.

Looking at the honey billboard, I was also reminded of the most common explanation for what has gone wrong in Iraq, a complaint echoed by everyone from John Kerry to Pat Buchanan: Iraq is mired in blood and deprivation because George W. Bush didn’t have “a postwar plan.”

The only problem with this theory is that it isn’t true.

The BUSH Administration DID HAVE A PLAN for what it would do after the war; put simply, it was to lay out as much honey as possible, then sit back and wait for the flies.
2.4 BILLION DOLLARS IN CASH (see yesterday's post): That's a lot of honey.

Don't you think?

"Fuck yes."
The honey theory of Iraqi reconstruction stems from the most cherished belief of the war’s ideological architects: that greed is good. Not good just for them and their friends but good for humanity, and certainly good for Iraqis. Greed creates profit, which creates growth, which creates jobs and products and services and everything else anyone could possibly need or want. The role of good government, then, is to create the optimal conditions for corporations to pursue their bottomless greed, so that they in turn can meet the needs of the society. The problem is that governments, even neoconservative governments, rarely get the chance to prove their sacred theory right: despite their enormous ideological advances, even George Bush’s Republicans are, in their own minds, perennially sabotaged by meddling Democrats, intractable unions, and alarmist environmentalists.

Iraq was going to change all that. In one place on Earth, the theory would finally be put into practice in its most perfect and uncompromised form. A country of 25 million would not be rebuilt as it was before the war; it would be erased, disappeared. In its place would spring forth a gleaming showroom for laissez-faire economics, a utopia such as the world had never seen. Every policy that liberates multinational corporations to pursue their quest for profit would be put into place: a shrunken state, a flexible workforce, open borders, minimal taxes, no tariffs, no ownership restrictions. The people of Iraq would, of course, have to endure some short-term pain: assets, previously owned by the state, would have to be given up to create new opportunities for growth and investment. Jobs would have to be lost and, as foreign products flooded across the border, local businesses and family farms would, unfortunately, be unable to compete. But to the authors of this plan, these would be small prices to pay for the economic boom that would surely explode once the proper conditions were in place, a boom so powerful the country would practically rebuild itself.

The fact that the boom never came and Iraq continues to tremble under explosions of a very different sort should never be blamed on the absence of a plan. Rather, the blame rests with the plan itself, and the extraordinarily violent ideology upon which it is based.
Klein goes on to describe the Neo-Con plan to "shock" Iraq into submission (TO MAKE IT EASIER TO TAKE OVER), their economic plans for this fully privatized country, Paul Bremer's role with the CPA, international money nd the dangers of doing biz in Iraq, and the roots of the curent insurgency (pissed off Iraqis w/out jobs?).

Again, it's easier to take over a country if you "shock it into submission." And - you can do what you want - under that cover.

Think about the move to transfer 2.4 BILLION DOLLARS in CASH MONEY to the streets of Baghdad.

"Hey, man - there weren't no banks! What did you want us to do?!"

I don't know.


If Klein is right...our soldiers are not fighting for "your freedom."

They're fighting for their own lives - against this growing insurgency - and a Neo-Con plan that must be implemented, come Hell or high water.
The great historical irony of the catastrophe unfolding in Iraq is that the shock-therapy reforms that were supposed to create an economic boom that would rebuild the country have instead fueled a resistance that ultimately made reconstruction impossible.

Bremer’s reforms unleashed forces that the neocons neither predicted nor could hope to control, from armed insurrections inside factories to tens of thousands of unemployed young men arming themselves. These forces have transformed Year Zero in Iraq into the mirror opposite of what the neocons envisioned: not a corporate utopia but a ghoulish dystopia, where going to a simple business meeting can get you lynched, burned alive, or beheaded. These dangers are so great that in Iraq global capitalism has retreated, at least for now.

For the neocons, this must be a shocking development: their ideological belief in greed turns out to be stronger than greed itself.

Iraq is sitting on...what? 150 Million barrels of oil? 150 Billion? (Google it.) At $60 bucks a pop?

THAT is a lot of honey.

("It's a 10-speed. That's a 5-speed times two, eh?")

More later...


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