The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

The cost of war and those who profit from it

Mar 27, 2006

Three years after the U.S. intervention in Iraq, with more and more people against the war in the U.S., Bush has begun a series of speeches to justify it. “I remain an optimist because, slowly but surely, our strategy gives results.... The decision to overthrow Saddam was good,” he declared in his March 18 radio broadcast. He dared to add: “Sometimes it seems difficult to understand why we can say there’s progress.”

Bush represents the greatest cynicism imperialism could show. He dares to speak of progress, when the occupation has caused the death of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians and the bloody chaos into which Iraq is sinking. When Bush sent U.S. troops into Iraq on March 20, 2003, he explained that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Today even Bush admits those weapons didn’t exist. Next, Bush claimed that Iraq was a threat to the security of the U.S. Finally, Bush argued that the U.S. army intervened for the good of the Iraqi people, removing Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship and installing democracy. This final justification wasn’t very original, since imperialism’s barbarous acts are usually carried out in the name of democracy and civilization.

Today, Bush advances other arguments equally hypocritical, attempting to justify the maintenance of the U.S. army in Iraq these past three years. He says the goal is to prevent a bloodbath provoked by religious conflicts. The struggle between Shiite and Sunni factions contesting for power already means daily bombings, leaving dead and wounded among the population. Rather than preventing a bloodbath, the occupation directly causes it.

The true reason for the intervention, the maintenance of U.S. imperialism in Iraq, has nothing to do with any concern about the fate of the Iraqi population. It wasn’t true three years ago. It isn’t true today. On the contrary.

Imperialism’s real reasons are Iraq’s immense oil reserves, the second largest in the world, mostly untapped. Through this war, the U.S. administration has aided U.S. oil companies to seize these resources.

The “reconstruction” of Iraq is a term made up for the U.S. public. There never was a question of reconstructing Iraqi infrastructure such as hospitals or schools to serve its population. In fact, the situation in Iraq has offered profitable opportunities to U.S. corporations. In April 2003, a month after the invasion, the contract for work there was estimated to be worth at least 100 billion dollars. Then Bechtel, the largest U.S. infrastructure company, got a contract for 680 million dollars. Haliburton, the biggest installer of oil equipment in the world – headed by Dick Cheney before he became Vice President – got a contract for extinguishing oil well fires and fixing oil wells. This contract was worth two billion dollars at the end of 2003. Haliburton also profits from building prisons in Guantanamo. Its subsidiary, Kellogg Brown and Root, is one of the main providers of “private armies” to protect companies in Iraq.

Today, the U.S. is operating 106 military bases in Iraq. In May 2005, the U.S. decided to build four massive bases in the north, east, south, and west of the country. Congress authorized 236 million dollars for permanent facilities.

Chaos in Iraq may raise some immediate problems for certain capitalist companies. It’s very difficult to extract oil – in fact it’s impossible – when bomb attacks are frequent. Yet a number of companies make considerable profits, in particular from the sale of weapons, and the construction of military and other facilities, paid for by the U.S. government. The Iraqi population continues to pay the price in blood, and U.S. soldiers continue to die, in order that the profits of a handful of capitalist robbers led and protected by Bush can flourish.