Friday, April 18, 2003

We bomb, we profit
The U.S. Agency of International Development has issued the first major reconstruction contract in Iraq to the Bechtel Group. A New York Times story reports: "The award will initially pay Bechtel, a closely held San Francisco company that posted $11.6 billion in revenue last year, $34.6 million and could go up to $680 million over 18 months."

Only a handful of large and well-connected U.S. companies (which will doubtless be happy to donate to Bush's election campaign) were invited to bid. Who will pay for Iraqi reconstruction? American taxpayers will pay initial contract costs, but Iraqi oil revenue is supposed to eventually pay for much of the reconstruction.

One of the more controversial aspects of the deal is that the U.S. doesn't want the U.N. to have any say in postwar Iraq, nor has it even given lucrative contracts to its ally Britain, inducing Tony Blair to recommend a larger role for the international organization. One unidentified American official caught the unilateral mood with this phrase:

"We are in control on the ground and creating facts on the ground, Iraq will not be put under a U.N. flag. The U.N. is not going to be a partner. And right now, people don't have the stomach to make a theological fight over this."

Facts on the ground? Theological fights? He sounded like he was talking about the West Bank.

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