16 December 2005
Enemies Of State?
13 December 2005
The government wants to postpone the investigation to help its favored candidate Iyad Allawi, the former prime minister, in the election on December 15. The money disappeared during his administration.
The UK's enthusiasm for Mr Allawi may have led it into promoting a cover-up of how the money was siphoned off and sent abroad. One Iraqi minister believes the investigation will be dropped when the next government is formed.
The scandal is expected to explode with renewed force in the next few weeks. The Independent has learnt of secret tape recordings of a wide-ranging conversation between a Ministry of Defense official and a businessman, naming politicians and officials involved.
"It is possibly one of the largest thefts in history," Ali Allawi, Iraq's Finance Minister, said. "Huge amounts of money have disappeared. In return we got nothing but scraps of metal." Most of the military purchases were made in Poland and Pakistan. They included obsolete helicopters, armoured vehicles unable to stop a bullet and grossly over-priced machine guns and bullets. Payments were made in advance. Often the Ministry of Defense did not even have a copy of contracts under which it was paying hundreds of millions of dollars.’
Blair Tries to Cover Up $1.3 Billion Iraqi Theft
"I don't think they needed to use deadly force with the guy," says John McAlhany, a 44-year-old construction worker from Sebastian, Fla. "He was getting off the plane." McAlhany also maintains that Alpizar never mentioned having a bomb.’
The latest desperate shifts in White House showmanship say at least as much about our progress (or lack of same) in Iraq over the past 32 months as reports from the ground. When President Bush announced the end of "major combat operations" in May 2003, his Imagineers felt the need for only a single elegant banner declaring "Mission Accomplished." Cut to Nov. 30, 2005: the latest White House bumper sticker, "Plan for Victory," multiplied by Orwellian mitosis over nearly every square inch of the rather "Queer Eye" stage set from which Mr. Bush delivered his oration at the Naval Academy.’
It Takes a Potemkin Village
As a historian and co-author of a book about Pearl Harbor, I have some unusual insights into these tragedies and have uncovered some startling juxtapositions between then (1945) and now (2005).’
That’s not quite how the story gets conveyed in the business press, however. When American economists and executives opine about China, you don’t hear about the jailing and abuse of workers who seek decent living standards. There’s nothing new in this: Our guys in the oil business have never said word one about the repressive Saudi regime, and United Fruit was always the Latin American banana-republic dictator’s best friend.
But China is different. It’s not just one benighted sector of American capitalism that’s made its accommodations there. Virtually every major U.S. firm involved in manufacturing and marketing is beating a path to China’s door - and surrendering there any political principles they may have brought with them. Rupert Murdoch’s agreement not to air any officially disapproved broadcasts over his satellite TV system is just one, albeit egregious, example.
So the next time China has a Tian An Men Square–like convulsion, don’t count on American business to support the Chinese democrats trying to stop the tanks. A more democratic China means workers with more rights and higher wages. For which reason the U.S. government is likely to be conflicted as well. Even now, while the Defense Department views China as a threat, the Commerce Department views it as a trading partner, or even an extension of the American system of production. Nor is it a given that a Democratic administration would be less immune than the Bush administration is to this political schizophrenia. It was the Clinton White House, after all, that promoted China’s no-questions-asked admission to the World Trade Organization.’
Low Prices, Widespread Torture
And lest anyone think that our global business elites are simply helpless pawns, adapting to the new realities of the global world order, let’s take a look at some of the uninhibited behaviour of the world’s largest corporations ….
‘On issues like war crimes, torture, toxic dumping and stifling freedom of speech, corporations like Coca Cola, Chevron and Philip Morris are way out ahead of the rest.
Corporations carry out some of the most horrific human rights abuses of modern times, but it is increasingly difficult to hold them to account. Economic globalization and the rise of transnational corporate power have created a favorable climate for corporate human rights abusers, which are governed principally by the codes of supply and demand and show genuine loyalty only to their stockholders.
Several of the companies below are being sued under the Alien Tort Claims Act, a law that allows citizens of any nationality to sue in US federal courts for violations of international rights or treaties. When corporations act like criminals, we have the right and the power to stop them, holding leaders and multinational corporations alike to the accords they have signed. Around the world - in Venezuela, Argentina, India, and right here in the United States - citizens are stepping up to create democracy and hold corporations accountable to international law.’
The 14 Worst Corporate Evildoers
Paul Craig Roberts, Hoover Institution senior fellow and assistant secretary of the treasury under Ronald Reagan, charges Bush with "lies and an illegal war of aggression, with outing CIA agents, with war crimes against Iraqi civilians, with the horrors of the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo torture centers" and calls for the president's impeachment.
Anne-Marie Slaughter, dean of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton and former president of the American Society of International Law, declares: "These policies make a mockery of our claim to stand for the rule of law. [Americans] should be marching on Washington to reject inhumane techniques carried out in our name."
Can such disparate forces as the peace movement, conservative advocates of the rule of law, and human rights advocates join to halt high government officials demonstrably engaged in criminal enterprise? Can they reach out and appeal to the deep but vacillating commitment of the American people to the national and international rule of law? Or will the Bush administration divide the posse and retain for itself the mantle of defender of international law and the U.S. Constitution?’
Bush War Crimes
A self-described conservative, Bacevich argues that Americans have fallen prey to a "military metaphysic." By that he means all international problems are seen as military problems and the likelihood for finding a solution except through military means is discounted. The result is war as a permanent condition with the only acceptable plan for peace a loaded pistol. One has only to consider the relative weight given to the Pentagon and the State Department to get the point.
During the military buildup of the '80s, the claim of proponents was "peace through strength." Having a big enough military meant you wouldn't have to use it. But having such a large and sophisticated military has proved a tough temptation for politicians and people alike to resist. It's an old story: When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.’
Iraq War Debate Enters New Phase