Iraqis Not Only Target of Bush's War

Sherwood Ross

As wars tend to be fought for gain and profit, Iraqis may be pardoned for suspecting the U.S. invaded to get their oil.

They know Iraq wasn't attacked to remove Saddam Hussein's WMD because he had none--- just as UN inspectors foretold. WMD was President Bush's nuclear fairy tale.

What some Americans don't grasp is Iraq was invaded to rob America as well as the Iraqis. USA's No. 1 cash crop is harvested April 17th--$1-trillion from the taxpayers.

Of that sum, a lion's share goes to the military-industrial complex (MIC). This year, the Pentagon gets a record $439-billion. Toss in what the CIA and its fellow intelligence agencies get and the figure jumps to about $500-billion. That's more than all the other countries of the world combined spend on war. And can DOD spend!

Knight Ridder reports the Pentagon is shelling out $20 for ice cube trays retailing for 99-cents or less and $1,000 for popcorn-makers. Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root, says Boston Globe's Derrick Jackson, "charged you and me $100 for a bag of laundry and $45 for a case of soda in Iraq."

But when Bunnatine Greenhouse, the Army Corps' top contracting officer, said no-bid, multi-billion contracts to Halliburton were "blatant and improper," she got demoted. President Bush's free market philosophy doesn't seem to cover the Pentagon.

President Bush and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld say they didn't invade Iraq for its territory. Of course not. Who needs it? Like Vietnam before it, this war is to rip off U.S. taxpayers.

Here are, in billions, what Big Ten DOD contractors reaped last year: (1) Lockheed Martin, $20; (2) Boeing, $17; (3) Northrop Grumman, $12; (4) General Dynamics, $10; (5) Raytheon, $9; (6) Halliburton, $8; (7) United Technologies, $5; (8) Science Application International, $3; (9) Computer Sciences Corp., $2; and (10) Humana, $2.

And many get nifty tax breaks. According to Washington-based Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ), aerospace and defense firms "enjoyed the lowest effective tax rate over 2001-03, paying only 1.6% of their profits in federal income taxes."

Meanwhile, ordinary Americans are sliding into debt faster than you can say TRW. While multinationals export good-paying jobs, bankruptcies set records, 35-million working poor can't make ends meet; 40-million have no medical coverage, untold millions can't find decent housing, millions of qualified students can't afford college. Those who try to organize unions get the pink slip.

What's more, the full DOD bill is yet to come due. The Pentagon is testing new weapons in Iraq, anticipating the electronic battlefield of the future, where robot planes and armored vehicles fight and where only America's enemies bleed. It is investing $1.5-trillion in 80 terrible new warfare systems, the New York Times reports.

As for the oil companies, they're turning the spigot to acquire new supplies and record profits, grabbing an ever bigger share of the household budget. Is anyone surprised when two former oil company executives occupy the two highest offices in the land that the price of gas goes stratospheric?

In sum, besides the death and dismemberment of thousands of their sons and daughters, the American people, while not brutalized to the extent of the Iraqi people, are paying a terrible price for the Administration's aggressive war. Our country is being plundered.

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