Bootprints of the yeti
It's done. On November 6, President Bush signed the bill to send $87 billion in taxpayers' money to the empire's newest provinces. According to Reuters, that's "on top of the $79 billion already approved." David Firestone (New York Times) reports that most of the money will go to the occupation forces: "$65.7 billion ... will pay for the military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, with $24 billion alone going for Army operations and $10 billion earmarked for Afghanistan." ("Senate Sends Spending Bill for War Costs to President," Nov. 4)
Firestone provides one detail that's simply priceless:
The Senate's action came on a voice vote with only six members present, meaning that the decisions of individual members on the administration's vision for Iraq were not recorded. Not voting on the record appealed to both Republicans nervous about explaining the amount to their constituents, and Democrats who did not want their patriotism questioned for opposing the bill.
Once again, the System worked!
The Imperial Occupation Army will happily spend its boodle on ammo, MRE's, and pregnancy-testing kits, as well as lots of replacement helicopters and body bags. But we ought to keep a closer eye on what happens with the $18.7 billion (Firestone's figure) in reconstruction aid. According to the Reuters story, Little George "called the ... package the 'greatest commitment of its kind since the Marshall Plan,' which helped rebuild Europe after World War II." Interesting he should mention the Marshall Plan. Here's a little of what Jeff Tucker of the Mises Institute has to say about that flyblown sacred cow:
A little-known business group, founded in 1942 and called the Committee for Economic Development, was elevated into a think tank for a new international order the economic counterpart to the Council on Foreign Relations. The Committee's founders were the heads of the top steel, automotive, and electric industries who had benefited from the New Deal's corporatist statism. Its membership overlapped with the farther left National Planning Association, which was unabashedly national socialist in ideological orientation.
These groups understood that they owed their profit margins to government subsidies provided by the New Deal and wartime production subsidies. Faced with postwar peace, they feared a future in which they would be forced to compete on a free-market basis. Their personal and institutional security was at stake, so they got busy dreaming up strategies to sustain a profitable statism in a peacetime economy.
Corporate economic interests, then, overlapped with Truman's political interests, and an unholy alliance between business and government was born. They would use Europe's miseries to line their own pockets in the name of "rebuilding" and providing "security" against trumped-up threats to American security. ("The Marshall Plan Myth," The Free Market, Sept. 1997)
Using a variety of techniques, including suborning and leaning on the new European governments, the American fascist movers and shakers made sure the dollars sent abroad came back to fill their own pockets. "Time and again," Tucker writes, "Congress intervened to grant corporate America what it really wanted: restrictions that forced Marshall aid to go to purchases of American oil, aluminum, wood, textiles, and machines." As if that wasn't enough, Tucker notes that "50 percent [of the aid] had to be sent on American vessels."
Marshall Plan aid totaled about $100 billion in today's dollars. In contrast, the $18.7 billion that's on the way to Mesopotamia may look like chump change but remember, it's only the beginning. It's especially only the beginning if, a few years from now, the regime starts tossing out scores of billions to rebuild newer war-torn provinces, such as Iran and Syria.
According to Reuters, "Critics [of the Iraqi aid package] say the biggest benefactors would be major construction companies and defense contractors, some of which have close ties to Bush and his vice president, Dick Cheney." That's what we need to watch, if we're allowed to. In his writings here at TLD over the past year and a half, Steve Sniegoski has demonstrated at length and in depth the motivations of the neocons who planned and ran the "war on terror," including the Iraq War. And he has noted that the launching of a major preemptive war signaled the Empire's advance to a more radical, less disguised stage of imperialism. The question remaining is why the ruling class allowed the neocons to do it.
There does seem to be some conflict in the ruling class between old-style and new-style imperialists, and I want to explore that in future writings. For present purposes let me grant that the wing of the ruling class that we may call Zionist "Power Jews" wound up dominant with respect to the official regime's current foreign adventurism. It is still the case that, insofar as they are senior members of a ruling class, the "Power Jews" must keep their eye on the prize: namely, maintaining and fortifying their citadels of politically established wealth. In other words, they may do "good" (by advancing the interests of Israel) but only in the service of doing well (by advancing their own material interests). Since they are merely brilliant and highly knowledgeable, and not omniscient, they may of course make mistakes, both about what will serve Israel and about what will serve their own interests.
In Dark Suits and Red Guards, I wrote that I "recognize that the innermost business of the ruling class is transacted in strict privacy, diffused through an enormously complicated network of personal relationships and communicated not through speeches and position papers, but through conversations on the golf course and over scotch in the private dining room conversations that no doubt include as many nods, winks, and grunts as complete sentences." (pp. 42-43) A percipient friend prefers a more colorful image. He says that the most we ordinary people can ever see are the "footprints of the yeti." In the months to come, let's look for them in Iraq.
November 8, 2003
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