America’s post-9/11 conflicts have been wars of corruption, a point surprisingly seldom made in the mainstream media. Keep in mind that George W. Bush’s administration was a monster of privatization. It had its own set of crony corporations, including Halliburton, KBR, Bechtel, and various oil companies, as well as a set of mercenary rent-a-gun outfits like Blackwater, DynCorp, and Triple Canopy that came into their own in this period.
It took the plunge into Iraq in March 2003, sweeping those corporations and an increasingly privatized military in with it. In the process, Iraq would become an example not of the free market system, but of a particularly venal form of crony capitalism (or, as Naomi Klein has labeled it, “disaster capitalism”).
Add in another factor: in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration began pouring money into the Pentagon, into, that is, an organization whose budget has never been able to pass an audit. There was so staggeringly much money to throw around then — and hubris to spare as well.
Among the first acts of L. Paul Bremer III, the new American proconsul in Baghdad, was the disbanding of Saddam Hussein’s army (creating an unemployed potential insurgent class) and the closing down of a whole range of state enterprises along with the privatization of the economy (creating their unemployed foot soldiers).
All of this, in turn, paved the way for a bonanza of “reconstruction” contracts granted, of course, to the administration’s favorite corporations to rebuild the country. There were slush funds aplenty; money went missing without anyone blinking; and American occupation officials reportedly “systematically looted” Iraqi funds.