Sunday, August 26, 2007

Iraq: Cui bono?

A couple of DailyKos diaries: one from occams hatchet about what a racket the Iraq occupation has been for certain corporations:
I have long believed that the invasion and occupation of Iraq represented, not the signal failure of the BushCheney administration, but rather the successful realization of the right wing corporatocracy's greatest fantasy: The redirection of a huge portion of the United States treasury to the pockets of Big Business, conducted with the active support and full power of the federal government and almost completely unfettered by oversight of any kind whatsoever.
And another quotes from an AP story on Forbes.com about how those who attempt to expose corruption in Iraq procurement end up getting punished:

One after another, the men and women who have stepped forward to report corruption in the massive effort to rebuild Iraq have been vilified, fired and demoted.

Or worse.

For daring to report illegal arms sales, Navy veteran Donald Vance says he was imprisoned by the American military in a security compound outside Baghdad and subjected to harsh interrogation methods.

There were times, huddled on the floor in solitary confinement with that head-banging music blaring dawn to dusk and interrogators yelling the same questions over and over, that Vance began to wish he had just kept his mouth shut.

While I'm not sure I agree with occams hatchet that the primary impetus behind the occupation is war profiteering, I think that in general we underestimate the effect of defense industry lobbying on our policy. Why wouldn't an industry involving so much money try to influence the government to steer more billions its way? They'd be foolish not to. Members of Congress are cheap compared to the amount of money spent on a new weapons system or an Iraq building contract.

Indeed, The Exile has wondered why American members of Congress are willing to sell themselves so cheap:
While it's fun to watch the Republicans squirm a bit [over the Abramoff scandal], one thing is apparent for those of us who live in Russia: it's making Americans look bad. The reason is simple: American politicians prove that they can be bought for a song compared to their Russian counterparts, in spite of the fact that the US economy is about 5000 times larger.

[...]

[Duke Cunningham] got caught taking about $2.4 million in bribes since 1990. That's it - $2.4 million over a 15 year period, plus use of that lava-lounge yacht. Com'on folks! We're talking monkey change here, a little more than $100,000 a year.

[...]

Even minor players in Russia manage to pull in some serious corruption money. In an October sting operation, the FSB nailed a Central Bank official who teamed up with a Federal Tax Service official trying to extort a $5.3 million bribe. This crime - and figure - was so routine that it didn't even warrant front page coverage. The pair was nabbed while collecting the initial $1 million payment, made by a bank hoping to avoid a spurious $53 million tax claim. So one middling official netted nearly three times as much as America's most corrupt politician.
People often wring their hands about how much political campaigns cost in this country. But given what's at stake, I'm surprised at how cheap the process is.

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