“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Saturday, May 03, 2003


A nice report on the Bush administration's plans for getting the fiercely independent Iraqi government, currently subcontracted out to SAIC, to agree to sell Iraqi assets at bargain basement prices to Bush cronies is featured on the Petroleum World site, culled from the WSJ. We are sure that Smilin' Jay Garner will cast a fiery glance with his eagle eye over any plan that he doesn't think is in the best interest of the Spirit of the Iraqi people. Fortunately for American Corporations, Smilin' Jay just might be pursuaded that what is good for Shell Oil is good for Iraq. Whew! So that wondrous privitization just might go through, benefiting the Iraqi people mightily, as it has done in Argentina, the Ukraine, the Soviet Union, and other places around the world!

"On the economic side, the AID plan serves as a detailed road map for achieving that end. The proposals for possible mass privatization of Iraqi industry are likely to be the most controversial. The document -- first drafted in February and circulated among financial consultants -- calls for liquidating some insolvent Iraqi companies, while assessing others for possible sale. Some state companies might be sold through "a broad-based Mass Privatization Program," which could distribute ownership vouchers to ordinary Iraqi citizens, similar to a program used in Russia in the mid-1990s. The document says that the contractors would help support "private sector involvement in strategic sectors, including privatization, asset sales, concessions, leases and management contracts, especially in the oil and supporting industries" that dominate Iraq's business activity.

Any attempt at privatizing Iraq's oil industry, which controls the world's second-
largest petroleum reserves after Saudi Arabia, would be a gargantuan business deal. It could be contentious, especially if assets wind up in the hands of foreign oil companies. In the Mideast and Europe, there is a widespread belief -- despite White House denials -- that the U.S. invaded Iraq to get control of its oil.

According to the timetable in the documents, officials would spend a year building a
consensus for industry privatization, and then transfer assets over the following three years."

Building consensus -- hmm, now that is the sweetest little term we've heard for mass repression, enforced by bayonet and tank, in a long time. Just as the Russians "built consensus" in post-68 Czechoslovakia. Of course, they were following their 'roadmap" there. You will notice that the Middle East is starting to drown in roadmaps.

LI also recommends the NYT article on Baghdad -- a place name that we can now, with superb confidence, drop into the vast pool of our national amnesia now that our flying ace of a President has declared the war over. It remains only to unleash massacre on a few demonstrations in a few unimportant outposts, set up a puppet regime, and steal the Iraqi oil infrastructure. In any case, the NYT account has a nice quote about Chalabi:

"The scion of a wealthy Shiite family, Mr. Chalabi left Iraq in 1958. In 1992, he was convicted in absentia of embezzlement and fraud in Jordan over the operations of bank he founded there; he denies those charges, saying they were fostered by the Iraqi government. Since his return to Iraq last month, the behavior of his entourage has outraged many Iraqis, and even some Americans.

"What we have done is import mafias into Baghdad," said one American official, who insisted on anonymity.

We've been reading the Gus Russo's encyclopedic account of the Chicago mob, The Outfit. At one point Russo describes the way two freelance hoods, George Browne and Willie Morris Bioff, shook down movie houses in Chicago. A movie house would open, and eventually Bioff would show up in the office of the owner and ask, "how are we doing?" Then it would start -- the stream of cash towards Bioff and Browne. In return for which, the movie house owner got to retain entrepreneurial control over his vitals, as well as a working pair of legs and arms. This theory generates spontaneously in the heads of the incurably crooked. So it has generated in Chalabi's head. The Times article continues:

"The official was referring to the takeover of many of Baghdad's best houses by groups of men claiming to have formed new political parties. Kurdish parties have taken over a Baath Party headquarters and the engineering building of Mr. Hussein's office. Some have set up roadblocks and established militias, sometimes saying they are operating with the authority of the American military.

An early expropriator was Mr. Chalabi, whose supporters seized the elite Hunting Club, apparently with the permission of American soldiers. Various groups associated with him took over other expensive houses in the same area.Last weekend, General Garner appeared to give tacit approval by dining with Mr. Chalabi at the club. All that, critics here say, has only encouraged other groups to go house-taking."

Smilin' Jay is just obeying the time sanctioned instincts of politicians through the past century. As Bioff, who started out as a pimp, put it: "I never saw a whore who wasn't hungry; and I never saw a politician who wasn't a whore."

And so Bioff articulates the typical businessman's disdain for his work force. Whores have contributed infinitely more to civilization than politicians.

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