The Victor's Rights, Right or Wrong

johnhall johnhall at
Fri Apr 18 15:30:45 PDT 2003

It is unusual that there is so much irrational 'flipping out' in a
single GeeGe post.  Usually she has her head screwed on a bit better
than that.

1) Saddam was a target in the war on Terror.  Taking him out was a
strategic success beyond price.  We not only cleaned out a nest of
vipers, we gave a vivid demonstration to any other land which might be
tempted to harbor a nest.

2) We did so, successfully, in a way that was far cheaper to us (and to
the Iraqis themselves) than a failed policy of containment would be.
"many of Britain's own valiant" ???  Fighting Saddam wasn't much more
dangerous than realistic training.  The amount of blood this has cost
the coalition is trivial by any meaningful standard to the nations
involved, no matter how devastating it is on a personal level to the
families of the fallen.  It was also trivial to the Iraqis compared to
life under Saddam.

3) Again those Iraqis: there is absolutely no scenario from here forward
that doesn't leave them better off than if we hadn't invaded.

4) Saddam was a clear and present danger to the US in a post 9/11 world.
He was also a danger to the entire West, but given the US position
mostly to us.  You didn't need "manipulation" to believe this, only a
clear strategic vision.

5) Believing Saddam does not have WMDs is a lot like a mother finding a
child on the counter, the cookie jar empty on the floor, and the kids
face smeared with chocolate and cheeks bulging --> but saying there was
no evidence he had anything to do with the cookie disappearance.  To
believe Saddam had no WMDs you have to believe he was willing to deprive
his regime of 100 billion dollars over the years and then die because he
was too shy to admit he had actually destroyed the WMDs.  As even Blix
noted, Chemical weapons are not like marmalade --> nobody 'forgets'
where they put them or destroy them.  Definitely not in a police state
like Iraq where they wrote down everything.

THEREFORE: 'We' do not know there are no WMDs.  All the evidence still
indicates they are there, somewhere.  The allegation that the
administration knew there were no WMDs would require a world-wide
conspiracy which included not only France and Russia but also Clinton.
It would be easier to establish that Saddam was working for Mossad.

6) Of course blowing the EU apart was a bonus to the United States.

7) If anything, the Administration is hoping the voters have very long
attention spans.  If they do, this nation will become a 60/40 Republican
nation very rapidly.  The peace at any price pro-Saddam wing of the
Democratic party has been humiliated.  The Administration hopes the
nation remembers that for a very long time.

8) "The US has just colonized the most lucrative piece of property in
the world." --> If you want to claim US policy was driven by pecuniary
interests, you could at least come up with scenarios where the action
was a good business decision.

The most lucrative piece of property in the world?  At $20/bbl net the
pre-Gulf War I production of Iraq is only worth $22 Billion per year.
That is for the most highly indebted nation in the world.  That also
assumes they could get $20 net after injecting that much oil into the

The US spent a large fraction of $20 billion per year containing Saddam
(you think the no-fly zones were cheap?).  It was also a major reason we
had troops in Saudi Arabia.

The Iraqi population is about 26 million.  The oil wealth in Iraq is
thus less than about $840/capita.

It just isn't a great deal of money.  Another way to look at it is this:
Congress approved $63 billion for the war of which we have spent $20 and
will need to spend another $20.  Then there is the cost of trying to
rebuild and stabilize the place.

If Saddam wasn't a threat then this was the stupidest financial
transaction in history for the US.  The only possible systematic
benefits to the US would be from lower oil prices, but that could be had
from simply lifting the sanctions.  The US economy doesn't care who gets
the contracts to pump the oil, only that he oil gets pumped.

On the other hand, there were strong financial reasons for the French
and Russians to defend Saddam.  While the US bore the cost of
containment, France and Russia did their best to profit from the

9) The primary benefit of giving US and other coalition countries the
contracts to build Iraq isn't that this is a money maker for the
coalition.  It is to put the screws to those who opposed Iraqi

> From: fork-bounces at [mailto:fork-bounces at] On Behalf
> geege
> Blair's got to be flipping out. The US has just colonized the most
> lucrative
> piece of property in the world.  Under the umbrella of reconstruction,
> Iraqi
> oil is a blank cheque. (sorry for mixing metaphors so early in the
> What horrifies me is how easily so many were manipulated into
> they
> were in imminent danger from Sadam.  This administration played him.
> threatened him relentlessly, attacked his pride, then used his false -
> defensive - bravado against him.  Now we all know what this
> has known all along: there are no WMD's. Saddam's little saving-face
> of
> "maybe I do, maybe I don't" worked in Bush's favor.  (Kudos to
> for
> not over-deploying?)
> And they used Blair.  Having sacrificed many of Britain's own valiant
> "the liberation," how can Blair do anything but defend their heroism -
> thus the war itself?  That Blair's allegiance with the US drew fierce
> opposition and blew to smithereens a strengthening European Union was
> likely a bonus for this administration.  But i doubt any of it was a
> suprise. It wasn't to me, and I'm not nearly as smart as they.
> This administration is counting on the voters' legendarily short
> spans.  By 2004 we'll be into a dramatic economic recovery - fueled,
> course, but the aforementioned blank cheque.  Bush will get back to
> business of privatizing social services and federalizing everything
> He
> will manage to make Big Business love him - and reward him - at
> time ... again.
> Not only can we be be manipulated, we can be bought.
> Apologetically, not apoplectically,
> Geege
> U.S. Gives Bechtel a Major Contract in Rebuilding Iraq
> WASHINGTON, April 17 - The Bush administration awarded the Bechtel
> of
> San Francisco the first major contract today in a vast reconstruction
> for Iraq that assigns no position of authority to the United Nations
> Europe.
> The contract, which was awarded by the United States Agency for
> International Development, had set off a heated contest among some of
> nation's most politically connected construction concerns.
> The award will initially pay Bechtel, a closely held San Francisco
> that posted $11.6 billion in revenue last year, $34.6 million and
could go
> up to $680 million over 18 months.
> But those amounts could be only a fraction of what it costs to rebuild
> Iraq's airports, water and electric-power systems, roads and
> The reconstruction of Iraq, a task that experts have said could cost
> billion to $100 billion, is part of a broad American-led effort to
> stabilize
> the country and set up a new government.
> The American taxpayer will pay the initial contract costs, but Iraqi
> revenue is supposed to eventually pay for much of the reconstruction.
> Since the fall of Saddam Hussein's government a week ago, the Bush
> administration has effectively shut out the United Nations from any
> postwar
> role in Iraq.
> An American team led by retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner will take over the
> civilian administration of Iraq until an interim Iraqi authority is in
> place. The Iraqis will then work with the World Bank and the
> Monetary Fund, institutions in which the United States enjoys wide
> influence, to reshape the country.
> "We are in control on the ground and creating facts on the ground,"
said a
> senior administration official who declined to be identified. "Iraq
> not
> be put under a U.N. flag. The U.N. is not going to be a partner. And
> now, people don't have the stomach to make a theological fight over
> The administration also opposes the return of United Nations weapons
> inspectors, senior officials said.
> Debate began yesterday at the United Nations on whether to lift
> against Iraq, which would end the United Nations' authority to oversee
> sale of Iraqi oil, to buy and distribute food, to inspect for weapons
> to
> safeguard the border with Kuwait.
> European governments still hope to extract more influence for the
> Nations in shaping postwar Iraq, in part to ensure greater involvement
> countries and organizations that are reluctant to work for a military
> occupation. And some European companies are still hoping for a share
> the
> work, perhaps as subcontractors to Bechtel.
> British companies are already upset at being cut out of the most
> deals to rebuild postwar Iraq, and Prime Minister Tony Blair urged Mr.
> Bush
> at a meeting earlier this month in Northern Ireland to grant the
> Nations a wider role in reconstruction.
> But Mr. Bush has held firm to having the United States play the
> role, suggesting in comments after the meeting with Mr. Blair in
> that United Nations agencies may assist with food, medicine and other
> needs
> and that a United Nations special representative can provide political
> advice.
> Administration officials said it was important to give contracts to
> American
> corporations, essentially leapfrogging over international groups, as a
> to demonstrate to the Iraqi people that the United States is a
> bringing economic prosperity and democratic institutions to their
> "We don't see the need for a U.N. operation at all - the Iraqi interim
> authority will be the equivalent of a civilian U.N. administration,"
> the senior administration official.
> As the administration sketches out its postwar Iraqi plans, officials
> that the World Bank eventually can act as the neutral international
> that will be the accountant for oil revenues, replacing the United
> Nations,
> which has overseen the oil-for-food program.
> This would require the creation of an Iraqi authority that is accepted
> other nations and international organizations, including the United
> Nations.
> It would also mean lifting United Nations sanctions, as proposed by
> President Bush on Wednesday, and unfreezing Iraqi assets.
> Bechtel defeated a handful of other construction companies today to
> the
> contract.
> The contract covers virtually all the major projects in Iraq,
> two
> international and three domestic airports, ensuring potable water is
> available, reconstructing electric power plants and building roads,
> railroads, schools, hospitals and irrigation systems.
> An initial priority is rebuilding Iraq's only deep-water port, the
> at
> Umm Qasr, where cargo is loaded on ships that travel down a waterway
> southern Iraq to the Persian Gulf.
> While administration officials say the bidding was based solely on
> companies were most qualified to do the work and on the need for an
> expedited selection and security clearances, the two-month process
> complaints from Congressional Democrats, as well as British companies,
> about
> secrecy and the decision to restrict bidding to a handful of the
> United States construction companies.
> The finalists had come down to Bechtel, which rebuilt Kuwaiti oil
> after the 1991 Persian Gulf war, and a bid from the Parsons
> an
> employee-owned company in Pasadena, Calif., which is one of Bechtel's
> largest rivals and which performed extensive postwar reconstruction
> in
> Bosnia and Kosovo.
> Parsons's bid included a major role as a subcontractor for
> Kellogg Brown & Root subsidiary, but Halliburton never bid on the work
> a
> prime contractor. Other companies invited to bid included the Fluor
> Corporation, the Louis Berger Group and Washington Group
> For the Bush administration, there could be a down side to running
Iraq on
> United States authority. Reconstruction is estimated at $25 billion.
> war
> has cost more than $20 billion so far, and Pentagon officials are
> projecting
> costs of $2 billion a month through Sept. 30. There is also the
> of
> being seen as an occupying power with an agenda closer to American
> Iraqi interests.
> Jean Marie Guehenno, the United Nations under secretary for
> operations, said that no matter who was in charge, "the problem is to
> create
> a system that is seen as legitimate by Iraqis and the world."
> "You have to be transparent and show you do not represent a foreign
> national
> agenda," he said. Bush administration officials have emphasized that
> foreign
> companies are eligible to become subcontractors for the work in Iraq.
> Earlier this week, the State Department called in diplomats from Arab
> countries and informed them that this construction contract would be
> announced this week and encouraged them to begin preparing bids for
> subcontracting jobs.
> Frances D. Cook, a former United States ambassador to Oman who
> a
> consortium of Arab companies, said Bechtel would be wise to consider
> awarding subcontracting work to companies from the region.
> "There is both a political usefulness and cultural appropriateness to
> using
> Arab companies from countries that helped us and want the jobs," said
> Cook. "It will help our country the most and start to repair some of
> relationships in the region." A Bechtel spokesman said tonight that
> would be a "full and open competition on an international basis" for
> subcontractors.
> The contract is one of several that had drawn criticism from
> including Representatives Henry A. Waxman of California and John D.
> Dingell
> of Michigan, the ranking Democrats on the Government Reform and Energy
> Commerce committees. The lawmakers had demanded an investigation by
> General Accounting Office into how the contracts were awarded.
> Now, the G.A.O. plans an even wider investigation than what had been
> requested. It will include an overall review of all matters relating
> postwar reconstruction in Iraq, said Jeff Nelligan, spokesman for the
> G.A.O.
> "We will not be targeting any particular companies, but no company
will be
> off of our radar screen," Mr. Nelligan said.
> Just this week, the United States Army Corps of Engineers said it
> send
> out for competitive bids on a new contract to fight continuing oil
> fires and rebuild Iraqi oil fields, a job initially awarded to
> in a separate contract without seeking any other bids. Halliburton is
> giant
> Texas company that had been run by Vice President Dick Cheney until he
> quit
> to run for vice president.
> The Bush administration has denied that politics played any role in
> awarding of any contract for postwar Iraq. All decisions have been
made on
> the merits, administration officials say.
> "The White House hasn't made any decisions to exclude countries or
> companies
> on awarding contracts," Michael Anton, a spokesman for the National
> Security
> Council, said today.

More information about the FoRK mailing list