“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

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

the win-win war

Three stories about Iraqi business, today, give LI that hopeful feeling when the wind of freedom – the wind they call Moriah – sweeps through Iraq, just like our President, God bless him, has been saying.

First, all LI readers will be thrilled to know that, once again, defense industry firms (and please, let’s not call the Death, Inc.) are beating forecaster estimates for another banner quarter! We are raising our screwdrivers in a patriotic salute:

According to Reuters: “Lockheed and Northrop shares hit their all-time highs on Tuesday as fears of budget cuts have receded, and the Pentagon's latest strategic review, released in February, gave the green light to all kinds of expensive weapons.”

Further: “The results follow a sharp profit increase for tank and submarine maker General Dynamics Corp. last week, as arms spending shows no sign of slowing down and the U.S. sets aside more money for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The other two top-tier defense contractors, Boeing Co. and Raytheon Co. , are expected to report higher quarterly profit later this week.”

No wonder the White House is angry that the good news about the economy has not been getting out there! Those fears of budget cuts are among the fears that the Bush administration has been fighting all along. I think we can all be proud that we walk the planet, potentially, as Lockheed shareholders – first in peace, first to get a piece of a dying planet, first to put the bullet in Gaia’s head.

The second news story can be filed under the “ungrateful Iraqi” department. As we all know, the big puzzle in this war is why the Iraqis are so darned ungrateful, after we have smothered them with all the good things.

James Glanz’s story about one reconstruction project is heartwarming:

“When Robert Sanders was sent by the U.S. Army to inspect the construction work an American company was doing on the banks of the Tigris River north of Baghdad, he expected to see workers drilling holes beneath the riverbed to restore a crucial set of large oil pipelines that had been bombed during the invasion of Iraq.
What he found instead that day in July 2004 looked like some gargantuan heart-bypass surgery gone nightmarishly bad. A crew had bulldozed a 300-foot, or 90-meter, trench around a giant drill bit in a desperate attempt to yank it loose from the riverbed. A supervisor later told him that the crews knew that drilling the holes was not possible, but that they had been instructed by the company in charge of the project to continue anyway.

A few weeks later, after the project had burned up all of the $75.7 million allocated to it, the work came to a complete halt.”

Imagine, after a paltry 75 million was spent, the money pipe ran out. Surely Americans, who have done almost as good a job of running Iraq as the Mongols did long ago, could cough up the ready? After all, we had seized Iraq’s own money – although that story is a tale to enthrall children of all ages, the greatest disappearing act of all time. But back to Glanz:

“Exactly what portion of Iraq's lost oil revenue can be attributed to one failed project, no matter how critical, is impossible to calculate. But the Fatah pipeline has a wider significance as a metaphor for the entire $45 billion rebuilding effort in Iraq. Although the failures of that effort are routinely attributed to insurgent attacks, an examination of this project shows that troubled decision-making and execution have played equally important roles.

The Fatah project went ahead despite warnings from experts who said that it could not succeed because the underground terrain was shattered and unstable. It continued chewing up astonishing amounts of cash when the predicted problems bogged the work down, with a contract that allowed crews to charge as much as $100,000 a day as they waited on standby. The company in charge engaged in what some American officials saw as a self-serving attempt to limit communications with the government until all the money was gone.”

Typical. Here’s good news from Iraq – Americans getting rich – and Glanz doesn’t see it. I’d urge LI readers to check out the article.

And more good news on: Iraqis getting rich! Reuters has a report about how to form your own death squad in Baghdad. It’s affordable!

“At Baghdad's Bab al-Sharjee market, a haven for criminals, anyone can walk into one of about 15 shops selling police and military supplies and buy a police commando uniform for 35,000 Dinars (about $24) or an ordinary police uniform for $15.
No questions asked, no identity checks. Badges of rank from Captain to Major-General -- enough to ensure no one asks questions on the mean streets of the capital -- go for $2.

"One person came yesterday and took 12 full commando uniforms. Another took 15 army uniforms and ski masks with holes for the eyes," said Tariq, who runs one of the stores.”

Police cars are going for 12,000 dollars. You’ll also want your laser pointers and your handcuffs. You want, in other words, one stop shopping. Baghdad has it all. This is free enterprise to melt an AEI flak’s heart.

Once you get the uniforms, the ski masks, the handcuffs, and of course the handy guns – guns are on definite markdown – it is time for the final touches that make all the difference:

“For an extra few hundred dollars, sirens and police markings can be added at the central Sinak market. Then it's a short trip to Mureydi market in the sprawling Sadr City Shi'ite slum for fake IDs.

Car salesman Abu Mohammed will sell a customer anything they want, including a range of bullet-proof cars costing up to $340,000.”

Iraq – the longer we stay in, the safer and richer the people become. No wonder they all love us!

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