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Kidd Millennium: Iraq For Sale Or Rent

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Iraq for sale or rent, oil to dip 50 percent…

By Ron Callari

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Who will be the next King of the Road in Baghdad, when the dusty maelstrom settles and the oil starts flowing West? That question should not shock those that understand the path of war from aggression to occupation.

The US has a rich history of capitalizing on wars. During WW II, Chrysler, Ford and Chevy stopped making cars in place of assembly lines that rolled out guns and artillery. Boeing churned out a B-17s every 24 hours. The Pacific Car and Foundry Company in Seattle introduced the Sherman tank. One of the reasons multiple presidents lied to us for years about Vietnam was because the defense contracts were too lucrative to pass up.

Today the doctrine of the preemptive strike is the perfect strategy for ushering in a new century of imperialism and its going to mean some major Iraqi dinars for whoever gets in on the ground floor. Even before this inevitable war commenced, the movers and shakers were negotiating over cognacs in the smoke-filled backrooms of DC as to how to divvy up the spoils of war. The new mantra being “to the victor goes the oil”.

As the first bombs slammed into Baghdad, CorpWatch, a grassroots watch-dog organization reported that thousands of employees of Halliburton, Vice President Dick’s former company were working alongside US troops in Kuwait and Turkey under a package deal worth billions.

According to US Army sources, they built tent cities and provided logistical support for the war in Iraq in addition to other hot spots in the "war on terrorism." No stranger to the business of war, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton was paid tens of millions of dollars by the Pentagon to go to Vietnam from 1962 to 1972, where they built roads and landing strips from the demilitarized zone to the Mekong Delta. Industrious little beavers, after the first Persian Gulf War, the company reappeared to refurbish war-torn buildings in Kuwait. It appears that collateral damage is a fairly lucrative business.

As part of his golden handshake, Cheney draws compensation of up to a million dollars a year from Halliburton. He opted not to receive his severance package in a lump sum, but instead to incur payouts over a five year period, most likely for tax reasons. Not believing in quid pro quo, our honorable VP denies that the White House helped the company win any war-related contracts. But of course, this administration has a history of secrecy and a back-office paper shredder that has been working over-time ever since the country’s first outbreak of Enron-itis!

The Pentagon has also awarded Brown & Root with a contract to control oil fires if Saddam Hussein sets the wells ablaze. Iraq has oil reserves second only to those of Saudi Arabia. This makes Brown and Root a leading candidate to win the role of top wildcat in any petroleum effort in Iraq that industry analysts say could net as much as $1.5 billion in contracts.

Meanwhile, news of the oil fires spread like…well… wild fire and sent the price of crude in New York up over $30 a barrel. Although high, prices over the last few weeks have been trending downward since OPEC has promised to keep the supply stable. It appears that our Saudi friends were invited to share some of those same cognacs and held supply in storage, in anticipation of this type of blowback!

Halliburton is not the only US corporation invited to the ContractsRUS Cotillion for what may turn out to be the biggest reconstruction project since the Second World War. Winners in the first round of the postwar sweepstakes include Bechtel Group, Fluor Corp, Parsons Corp, and the Louis Berger Group. Members of a panel that advises Rumsfeld work for companies that do business with the Pentagon, including World Airways Inc, which flies troops to the Persian Gulf, and Alliant Techsystems Inc., the largest US manufacturer of ammunition.

Critics say that the apparent conflict of interest is deplorable. "The Bush-Cheney team have turned the United States into a family business," says Harvey Wasserman, author of The Last Energy War. "That's why we haven't seen Cheney - he's cutting deals with his old buddies who gave him a multimillion-dollar golden handshake. Have they no grace, no shame, no common sense? Why don't they just have Enron run America?”

So who are the big losers in this latest foray into the economics of War. Well so far, we haven’t heard any “parley-vous-Francaising” emanating from any of these negotiations! Since the French never learned how to play in Monsieur Bush’s blanc and noir world, we are sure they will be coming up at the short end of the oil stick!

C’est la Guerre!


Ron Callari is a freelance journalist and editorial cartoonist who resides in Jersey City, New Jersey. He and co-creator Jack Pittman produce kidd millennium cartoons weekly.

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