By David Swanson
“Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers,” by far the best film Robert Greenwald has created, is not about the military industrial complex. Rather, it is about the remaining shell of the former military, having embedded within itself not just the media, but numerous other corporate entities. The U.S. military no longer cooks its own food, washes its own laundry, repairs its own vehicles, or guards its own V.I.P.s. We’ve privatized everything, right down to the shooting — mercenaries make up the second largest contingent in the Coalition of the Killing.
Private corporations cost more and provide less, or in the case of the reconstruction of Iraq: provide virtually nothing. There has been no reconstruction, and various corporations have provided literally nothing – at great expense. Halliburton has sent drivers to risk their lives hauling empty trucks back and forth across Iraq. And when a $75,000 truck breaks down, for lack of a spare tire or an oil filter, they blow the truck up or abandon it.
The absence of a reconstruction in Iraq is not the topic of “Iraq for Sale.” Neither is the injustice of the war. “Iraq for Sale” is a film about how the war is being conducted, not whether there was any justification for beginning or continuing it at all. But the depiction of how the war is being conducted reveals in itself massive crime.
We meet in this film the families of two of the four Blackwater employees whose murders in Fallujah made big news, and we hear how Blackwater cut corners on arming their vehicle or including in it the proper number of personnel.
We learn about the employees of CACI who tortured Iraqis in Abu Ghraib, but who – unlike some members of the old military – have not been held accountable in any way.
We also hear from former translators for Titan on how that company pocketed big bucks while providing incompetent translators.
We hear from drivers for Kellog Brown and Root (Halliburton) and their families. KBR has knowingly sent trucks into zones where there was a high chance they would be attacked. And they have been attacked. And drivers have been killed. The deaths are not counted in U.S. (old military) casualty figures. We hear from some of the drivers who have survived attacks.
We also see Halliburton provide contaminated water for service members, provide endless lines for food – and refuse to allow eating at any time other than scheduled meals, making it easier for resisters to attack. Halliburton overcharges, including charging $99 to wash a bag of laundry without getting it clean. The total of Halliburton overcharges is over $1 billion.
That’s over $1 billion in pure waste as part of an already wasteful arrangement with Halliburton, a contract obtained with no competition or bidding and no expectation that the terms of the contract be met. Only in a field connected to patriotic music and flag waving would this level of corruption be so easily tolerated. No wonder corporations love war so much!
If the privatization of the military has a silver lining, it’s this: should we ever be able to eliminate the privatized sections of the military, the remaining old military will be a more appropriately sized entity for defending a nation that does not launch aggressive wars. Let’s make the Department of Defense a publicly run public service of a size that we can afford and the world can survive.
I highly recommend seeing this film: http://iraqforsale.org
If you’re in New Jersey or Philadelphia this weekend, you should come watch it with me. Following the screening, we’re going to discuss the ever-improving prospects for impeachment, including how we can persuade the New Jersey state legislature to send impeachment charges to the U.S. House. Sign up to join us: