Mission Complete



Jake Schoneker

Last week, I reported on the emergence of private mercenaries in Iraq, who killed 11 innocent civilians in a shooting that led to a public outcry from Iraqi leaders.

It’s become clear that American security companies such as Blackwater USA (whose employees make upward of $1,000 per day) stand to profit from the destruction and chaos unfolding in Iraq. Unfortunately, these companies are only the tip of the iceberg in the broad economic theater of war. While certain powers have profited from the destruction and occupation of Iraq, a great deal more stand to gain from its painful reconstruction.

Private companies in various industries will come to “aid” the Iraqi reconstruction effort – roads will need to be built, factories restarted, soldiers given care and, perhaps most importantly, energy provided to an entire country.

All of these services will come at a tremendous cost, and make no mistake about who will be cashing in: giant corporations (mostly American), like our good friends at Halliburton, who recently were awarded $20 billion worth of Iraqi fuel contracts.

To put this number in perspective, the entire U.N. peacekeeping budget for Iraq is a measly $5.25 billion – barely a quarter of what only one contracting company is being paid.

Civil war and unrest in Iraq have created conditions where these kinds of radical deals can be pushed through without public scrutiny or resistance. While Iraqi oil experts and labor unions have spoken vehemently against the privatization of Iraqi oil, their cries are being ignored.

In February 2007, a law passed through Iraq’s cabinet (thanks largely to coaxing from American powers) that encourages heavy foreign investment by not setting any limits on the profits that can be taken by foreign corporations. This allows big oil companies like Shell and BP to sign giant contracts, decades long, which enable them to keep a lion’s share of the profits – perhaps hundreds of billions of dollars that will be taken from the Iraqi people for the benefit of big oil barons.

Even worse, the law de-democratized the oil business by creating a new governing body called the Federal Oil and Gas Council that will oversee future oil contracts. The Council, which is advised by an unelected group of foreigners and Iraqis, takes power away from the democratically elected parliament and puts it into the hands of a powerful oil elite. The Council will combine with an ineffective government in Baghdad to create a corporate utopia of exploitation.

There is a reason why there are more private contractors (over 180,000) working under American contracts in Iraq than there are U.S. soldiers fighting.

While the face of the war in Iraq is a military one, the true invasion is economic; while the military war has been largely labeled a failure, the economic war machine could not be working more perfectly. We have created a political environment that will be unstable for years to come and a panicked population that has either fled the country or lives each day in fear of bombs and merciless killings.

In short, we have created a gold mine for economic imperialism, and Iraqis will be the ones to pay.

In a country where 95 percent of government revenue comes from oil production, the privatizing of Iraqi oil contracts means less money spent on infrastructure such as the schools, hospitals and factories that Iraq needs to get on its feet again. We have taken the country’s only hope of reconstruction – the only legs it can possibly stand on – and we’ve taken out its knees, leaving a country broken and bleeding oil into our eager, blackened hands.

This is neo-imperialism; it’s nothing new. We are perfecting the art of inserting ourselves into crisis situations and promising great improvements with vast loans and aid, all while lining the corporate pockets of America with lucrative contracts and access to vital resources.

But the war in Iraq has given birth to a frightening new economic reality, where every possible facet of war has been privatized. We now have the power to destroy, invade and reconstruct countries at will, fueled by immense profits and private investment.

Long after the last U.S. troops have pulled out of Iraq, a lingering infrastructure of economic dominance will remain, exploiting natural and human resources and fanning the flames of hatred in the Middle East.


Jake Schoneker is a senior political science and humanities major from Lansdale, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected].