Posted by: Tony Carson | 26 October, 2007

Iraqi: the war over money

As the emerging story of the Iraq War slowly dials into focus, it seems increasingly that the war is more over money than ideology, and not just oil money.

We have been bombarded in recent weeks with stories about how the US military has out-sourced much of its former functions. With 180,000 contractors in Iraq there are more individual entrepreneurs than there are soldiers (160,000). The vast majority of these entrepreneurs are Iraqis who do everything from cook and clean to repair and guard but there are also the Blackwaters which are getting increasingly enormous contracts to do what the soldiers used to do: protect. And at a price: these mercenaries make upwards of four times what the grunts make while the parent company prospers lavishly.

Currently, it is estimated that the US spends over $4 billion a year for contractors, up from $1 billion two years before but that there are only about the same number of officials to oversee the contracts. Talk about a license to steal. To find out how these billions are actually distributed, read this: Billions in Baghdad: follow the money (if you can).

Now, we learn in Iraqi militants feed on corruption that “Iraqi insurgents and sectarian militias are funding their deadly activities by muscling in on Mafia-style rackets involving everything from real estate and oil to cement and soft drinks,” U.S. commanders say.

An internal U.S. Embassy assessment leaked to the media in August said endemic corruption was crippling the government and providing a major source of funding to insurgent groups and sectarian militias.

Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has described the fight against corruption as Iraq’s “second war.”

There is a kind of ironic symmetry from this fiscal free-for-all. This war which, in reality, was only ever about the riches of oil is now about the riches from American debt, while oil tops a punitive $92 a barrel.

If you want to see the worst in human behaviour, throw $2.4 trillion on the table.

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