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August 23, 2006

$ War $ Terrorism $ Oil $ (Follow the Money)

A helpful bit of advice for understanding many situations is to follow the money. Seeing who is profiting and paying often makes sense of what's happening and why. I've used this idea to llok and criminal justice and private prisons - the crime pays part of PaulsJusticePage. But I was still suprised to read "Oil price rise fuels leap in US arms sales."

Yes, it's obvious that Exxon and other oil companies are making a killing from high oil prices. But Saudi Arabia is also sitting on piles of cash and is buying U.S. arms, with the Pentagon taking a cut. From the Times (UK) story (via Kirk Report):

An investigation by The Times has found that the US Congress was notified of sales worth $12.9 billion (£6.8 billion) in July — the largest monthly total since the beginning of the Bush Administration. So far this year, foreign governments have agreed contracts with the Pentagon worth $21.7 billion, more than the total of any other year since 2001.


The largest spenders in the past five years include Saudi Arabia, which has placed orders worth $14 billion, South Korea, with orders of $8.8 billion, and Pakistan, with orders of $7.6 billion. Among the biggest winners of contracts this year are Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Britain’s BAE Systems.

US government officials and leading defence analysts have told The Times that among the many factors influencing foreign military sales (FMS) has been the Pentagon’s desire to cement relations with foreign governments in order to bolster support for the War on Terror.


A lucrative result of the leap in arms sales is the $600 million that the Pentagon has earned in commission. It places a 2.8 per cent charge on all arms sales that it arranges for foreign governments and in the past five years this has been worth about $2.5 billion.

The broader context for this is examined in a well done BBC video below, How The Military Industrial Complex Makes Money Off 9/11. (Of course it is the non-US media doing reports like this...)


In case the picture isn't horrifying enough, enter Halliburton - Cheney's former company that has done oh so much war profiteering in Iraq. According to an editorial in the Baltimore Sun, "A Corporate Takeover of American Borders" (8/21/06) via the Suicide Girls news:

The Customs and Border Protection's Expedited Removal Program has contracted with Halliburton to oversee the expansion of the federal government's capacity to detain immigrants.


During the early 1980s, the federal government began experimenting with incarcerating people for profit, using immigrant detention as its canary in the coal mine. In 1984, the Corrections Corporation of America, the private-incarceration leader, cut its first deal with the federal government to operate Immigration and Naturalization Service detention centers in Houston and Laredo, Texas. Since then, private incarceration has become a boom industry as well as a lightning rod for credible human-rights abuse litigation. (via Suicide Girls news)

Others in the feeding frenzy of "Operation Gatekeeper" and "Operation Hold the Line" are Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Ericsson and Northrop Grumman. Oh, and add "Blackwater Inc., a private security firm that has run mercenaries in Iraq and New Orleans." With great understatement, the author comments: " Military contractors and private mercenaries as immigration policymakers represent a foreboding prospect for any democracy."

I think the Suicide Girls' comment is more to the point:  

What could possibly go wrong if military contractors and private mercenaries control the borders? Just think of all the exciting possibilities once the federal border patrol is removed from public scrutiny and it disappears into the black hole of corporate rule. And all the exciting profit to be made from human misery. Why send immigrants back quickly, when you make more money by holding onto them? And you can use your Washington lobbyists to create harsher anti-immigrant laws and divert more funding to needless electronic border surveillance. It’s a Goddamn cash cow just waiting to be milked! (Time to Unleash Halliburton on the Mexicans)




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