Profiting from War

Written: 03/16/2003

During the nineties, current vice-president Dick Cheney was chairman and chief executive of the petroleum corporation Halliburton. While working face-to-face with Saddam Hussein, Cheney and Halliburton did $73 million dollars of business with Iraq.

While making money through its dealings with Iraq on one hand, they were busy making deals that would put them first in line to take control of oil well fires in a postwar Iraq on the other.

Cheney stepped down as CEO for Halliburton before becoming Vice-President, but he continues to receive a deferred (and guaranteed) income of as much as $1 million from them annually.

In February, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) requested proposals to bid on a contract to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure in the aftermath of war. The request was sent to at least five U.S. firms – the Bechtel Group, Fluor Corporation, Parsons Corporation, the Louis Berger Group, and a subsidiary of Halliburton; Kellogg Brown & Root.

Despite Halliburton being under investigation for its accounting practices while Cheney was in charge, Brown & Root have already made $300 million from a contract with the Department of Defense to build cells for detainees in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and will win its fair share of contracts to rebuild postwar Iraq.

In March of this year, the Pentagon announced it would use the plan developed by Brown & Root to put out oil well fires in postwar Iraq, and they have awarded Brown & Root the contract to do it.

The Pentagon has classified how the contract was rewarded.

The contract sets no limits on how much Brown & Root may spend, or quantity of services rendered to meet requests, and their fees will be based on their expenditures with a guaranteed percentage profit, so the costs will be impossible to estimate — the more they spend the more they will profit. They will also get a bonus amount, if the military is satisfied. This is incentive to spend as much as possible, and the military will probably be more satisfied as a result.

Also poised to make a “killing” on this war is the global investment firm, the Carlyle Group, which employs former Secretary of State James Baker III and former President George H. W. Bush as advisers and also includes former members of both the Reagan and Bush I administrations. Carlyle is heavily invested with defense contractors and owns the weapons manufacturer United Defense.

Overall, oil and oil-service industries, along with various military contractors, will make fortunes on a war with Iraq and the benefits of processing oil reserves, which are second in the world only to Saudi Arabia.

The losers may be countries like France and Russia, who already have oil contracts with Iraq today. This may explain part of the reason they are opposed to a U.S. war in Iraq even though the U.S. attempted to win them over by offering them a cut in post-war Iraqi oil deals.

Others in the Bush administration are tied to various oil or oil service businesses (Condoleezza Rice even has an oil tanker named after her, for example), but I will take a pass getting into every last one of them at the moment to tell the story of Enron.

Enron was one of Bush’s biggest contributors. It is interesting to note that Enron desperately needed a pipeline deal through Afghanistan to make the Dabhol power plant (its biggest project at the time) profitable and to avoid bankruptcy. Enron was involved in the Energy Task Force meetings, which occurred several months prior to 9-11 and which Cheney refuses to divulge any information about. It would be very interesting to find out what was discussed at these meetings (the GAO was threatened by the administration with a cut in funding, if it didn’t drop its suit seeking information about the task force meetings, and the suit was promptly dropped). There now will be a pipeline built through Afghanistan, Enron has reformed into a pipeline building business, and it looks like they may be able to complete their project in Dabhol.

It actually may be possible to guess what was discussed and suggested by the oil company representatives which attended at the secret Energy Task Force meetings by looking at a report that was submitted to Cheney in April, 2001. The report, called “Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century,” was commissioned by the Council on Foreign Relations and James Baker, former Secretary of State under President Reagan and was linked to a “veritable who’s who of U.S. hawks, oilmen, and corporate bigwigs,” according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The report made the argument that there is a need of U.S. “military intervention” in Iraq to “secure control of its oil” and thereby address the coming energy crisis and it possibly infers a pipeline through Afghanistan where it said that the U.S. should “investigate whether any changes to U.S. policy would quickly facilitate higher exports of oil from the Caspian Basin region…the exports from some oil discoveries could be hastened if a secure, economical export route could be identified swiftly.” [Emphasis mine]

Later, when the results of the Task Force meetings were announced in Cheney’s national energy plan, it contained the suggestion that the U.S. could no longer depend on traditional sources and would have to obtain supplies from the Caspian regions and that the U.S. would have to overcome foreign resistance to the current limitations of American energy companies.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, many countries in the Caspian Basin region came open to big oil businesses for the first time and they promptly acquired interests in these countries. The problem was getting the oil out. Until a pipeline could be built through Afghanistan, Iran, or some other willing country in the area, oil companies had to pay fees to Russia to use their pipeline, making the oil more expensive and the companies less profitable.

Once George W. Bush came into office, his administration began negotiations with the Taliban for a pipeline deal through Afghanistan. Their desire to obtain a deal led them to back off investigating Osama bin Laden or other Saudi royals financing al Qaeda and to make other policy decisions that caused them to take their eye off the ball with regard to the threat from al Qaeda.

It appears that sometime in the summer of 2001, the pipeline deal fell through.

But there is more to this than just oil….

Back in 1997, Cheney joined a group called “Project For A New American Century” (PNAC), a group of neoconservative imperialists–many of whom are now in high positions of power in the Bush administration–who have previously referred to U.S. bases in other countries as “outposts in the new American frontier” and have long advocated a regime change in Iraq as the first stage towards an imperial “Pax Americana.”

In September 2000, they released a report entitled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” which laid-out the blueprints for American empire, some of the details of which I have reviewed in a previous article. The recent activities of the PNAC include the creation of another group named “The Committee for the Liberation of Iraq” designed to “educate” the public through the cable news channels about the need to go to war with Iraq.

The reasons for this war are multi-leveled, but there is a powerful group, heavily involved in the decision making process of this administration, which are intent on using Iraq as a staging area for further American imperialism. Here we have a group in power that are acting out a previous agenda using 9-11 as an excuse. Iraq is only the strategic launching point for their goal of a world “Pax Americana,” and their actions, as they pursue this goal, can only financially benefit both them and their corporate associates.

What will be the result of imperialism as government becomes increasingly entangled with large national and multi-national corporations with interests around the world?

Mussolini had this to say about it:

“Fascism, should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power.”