Friday, April 11, 2003

The complaints of a worry-wart

Spoils of War By BOB HERBERT Follow the money. Former Secretary of State George Shultz is on the board of directors of the Bechtel Group, the largest contractor in the U.S. and one of the finalists in the competition to land a fat contract to help in the rebuilding of Iraq. He is also the chairman of the advisory board of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a fiercely pro-war group with close ties to the White House. The committee, formed last year, made it clear from the beginning that it sought more than the ouster of Saddam's regime. It was committed, among other things, "to work beyond the liberation of Iraq to the reconstruction of its economy." War is a tragedy for some and a boon for others. I asked Mr. Shultz if the fact that he was an advocate of the war while sitting on the board of a company that would benefit from it left him concerned about the appearance of a conflict of interest. "I don't know that Bechtel would particularly benefit from it," he said. "But if there's work that's needed to be done, Bechtel is the type of company that could do it. But nobody looks at it as something you benefit from."
I said yesterday that America has been turned into a protection racket. Herbert provides additional evidence for the proposition. The Bush administration has completed the program of turning America's armed forces into a mercenary force. It takes its orders from a small group of military-industrial advisors who are more interested in the lucrative reconstruction opportunities that war can produce then they are in protecting the lives and liberties of the American people. It's a brilliant business plan. First we send out the army to trash a place, preferably the weaker the opposition the better. Second, we send in the corporations to rebuild it. Third, this small group of advisors, who also happen to run those corporations, reap huge dividends from the operation. Finally, the administration pushes through tax cuts that allow them to keep even more of their booty. And the rest of us are left holding the bill, nursing the wounded, and living in ever greater fear of the inevitable backlash. But, of course, I am just an un-American cry-baby worry-wart so what do I know?


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