Sunday, August 15, 2004

Green Left Weekly (Australia) : Michael Moore: War is for the rich!

Michael Moore's blockbuster documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 isn't just an assault on the Bush regime and the “war on terror” — it indicts the corporate vultures who rushed to cash-in on the warmongers' post-9/11 crusade.

“This is an impressive crowd: the haves and the have-mores. Some people call you the elite; I call you my base”, George Bush quipped at an $800-a-head election fundraising dinner in October 2000, footage of which Moore included in Fahrenheit.

While for most people the world has been a worse place since the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, for Bush's “base”, the corporate elite whose interests he represents , particularly those with a stake in the ironically named “defence” industry, 2001 will be remembered as a bumper year for war profiteering.

Already a source of corporate welfare, the “war on terror” has let the Bush regime get away with massively increasing the Pentagon's spending. The US military budget request for fiscal year 2005 is US$420.7 billion — up by $131.9 billion since 2000.

The top beneficiaries of this orgy of military spending in the name of “defeating terrorism” are corporations, such as the Carlyle Group, that have close links to the White House (and, for that matter, the alternative party of the US elite, the Democrats). Carlyle, former employers of Bush's father and, through Caterair, of Bush himself, have made a killing from the “war on terror”, as Moore's film reveals.

Fahrenheit 9/11 points out that Carlyle owns “United Defense, makers of the Bradley armoured fighting vehicle. September 11th guaranteed that United Defense was going to have a very good year. Just six weeks after 9/11, Carlyle filed to take United Defense public and in December made a one-day profit of $237 million.”

A December 8, 2003, Forbes magazine article, cited by Moore as factual backup for his claims about Carlyle's war-profiteering, noted: “By virtue of its holdings in companies like US Marine Repair and United Defense Industries, Carlyle is the equivalent of the eleventh-largest defense contractor in the nation.”

The “defence” gravy train, being fed by the ongoing need to subdue Iraq and Afghanistan, is unlikely to be derailed. Indeed, a July 29 report by the US Center for Public Integrity (CPI) revealed that “Private defense contractors have been given the authority to help prepare the president's national defense budget”.

While “regime change” in Iraq and Afghanistan was driven by the medium- and long-term interests of US imperialism, it hasn't meant that the corporate creeps haven't cashed-in — from feeding US soldiers to rebuilding the infrastructure that the invasions destroyed, there has been plenty of plunder for US corporations. According to the Windfalls of War project, run by the CPI, as of July 7, more than 150 US corporations had received contracts in Iraq or Afghanistan. These contracts are worth some $48.7 billion.

Particularly notorious are the mega-profits reaped by Kellogg, Brown & Root, the infamous subsidy of Halliburton (of which Vice-President Dick Cheney was CEO until taking up digs in the White House). KBR has nearly $326.7 million worth of contracts in Afghanistan and $4.35 billion worth in Iraq, according to the CPI.

“There's no other single area of the world today with the opportunity for business, to do business, somewhere with the opportunity that's available today in Iraq”, Gordon Bobbitt of the Kalmar RT Center explains to corporate executives at a conference on Iraqi reconstruction featured in Fahrenheit.

(click on the title for the whole article)

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