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[casi] More Democrocy - and a 'Boost' for Halliburton

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 Why do I get the feeling that the US Administration has lost its
collective marbles and is barking mad?  best, f.

Published on Friday, August 15, 2003 by the Boston Globe
America's Worst Side in Iraq
by Derrick Z. Jackson

SPEAKING LAST week before the National Association of Black Journalists,
national security adviser Condoleezza Rice talked about how security was
hardened in the United States after Sept. 11. Her speech seemed patented
until she said, "But if we in the United States are not going to change who
we are, if we are going to preserve the nature of our open society, there is
only so much hardening that we can do. We need to address the source of the
problem. And to do that we must go on the offensive." Rice says we are not
going to change who we are. It is hard to be more offensive than that.
America is nearly two years into invasions in which we have killed more
civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan than the number who died in the United
States on 9/11. Yet we have no Osama, no Saddam, no weapons of mass
destruction, no nuclear weapons plants, no peace.
In the 2000 presidential debates, Bush said he would stop "extending our
troops all around the world in nation-building missions." Bush is now so
obsessed with nation-building that he is blind to how killings of Iraqi
civilians by US soldiers devalue Iraqis even as he claims to liberate them.
Witness the witless comments made last week by the American commander in
Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez. Sanchez told The New York Times
that he decided to scale back his self-described "iron-fisted" raids in the
search for loyalists to Saddam Hussein after the new Iraqi leaders told him
that too many innocent families were brutalized by US soldiers.
"When you take a father in front of his family and put a bag over his head
and put him on the ground, you have had a significant adverse effect on his
dignity and respect in the eyes of his family," Sanchez said.
You mean Sanchez actually had to be told that you do not make friends
behaving like the LAPD? That was not all. Sanchez bizarrely implied that
unlike the victims of 9/11, whom we grant eternal innocence, Iraqis carry
evil in their hearts. He said the US raids "created in this culture some
Iraqis that then had to act because of their value systems against us in
terms of revenge, possibly because there were casualties on their side and
also because of the impact on their dignity and respect."
Your value system would be skewed too, if you saw one indiscriminate
shooting too many. In the week since Sanchez said he was dropping the iron
fist, American soldiers mistakenly killed two members of the
American-installed police force. A third police officer who survived the
attack said US soldiers shot one of the other officers between the eyes even
though that officer had already been wounded and was shouting that he was a
police officer. The surviving officer said he was kicked and beaten despite
waving his badge and despite being wounded in the leg.
In another tragedy, panicked US soldiers, thinking a blown transformer was a
bomb, fired on a car filled with a family who did not see the soldiers'
checkpoint. The attack widowed a woman, killing her husband, two daughters,
and a son. The youngest was 8. The family was coming home from dropping off
a grandmother. The surviving daughter, 13-year-old Hadeel Kawaz, said the
soldiers left her dying father and siblings bleeding for an hour without
medical attention. During the occupation, the family had given water to
patrolling US soldiers.
Rice is right. We have not changed. Hadeel Kawaz might as well have been a
Cherokee in the 1830s, watching her family die in the Trail of Tears.
As Iraqi civilians duck and try to decide whether they are the recipients of
freedom or friendly fire, one thing is certain. Bush's friends are getting
rich off Iraq a lot faster than Iraqis themselves.
Two weeks ago, Halliburton, the Houston oil company once run by Vice
President Dick Cheney, announced a profit of $26 million in the second
quarter of this year. In 2002 the company lost $498 million.
It helps that Halliburton got the majority of the work to rebuild Iraq's oil
fields. At home President Bush filed briefs to the Supreme Court against
affirmative action for African-Americans. In Iraq, Halliburton got an old
boy, no-bid contract. Outrage forced a reopening of the bidding, but not
before Halliburton racked up $641 million in work. Halliburton is also the
sole provider of troop support services in Iraq and Afghanistan. For those
services the company has already received $529 million in a 10-year contract
that has no ceiling.
"Iraq was a very nice boost," one analyst told The Wall Street Journal.
Cheney's friends get a boost. Civilians get brutality. Rice was absolutely
right in the wrong way. She thought she was boasting about going on the
offensive to protect an open society. When our freedom comes at the cost of
killing police and gunning down a father, two daughters, and a son and
leaving them for dead, nothing has changed. America remains an open society
that relies far too much on a closed mind.
 Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company

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