Thursday, April 10, 2003

False Dawn

So this is what victory feels like. Than why don't I feel like celebrating? I've been avoiding most of the Baghdad coverage over the last 24 hours so I've missed the nyah-nyahing of the pro-war crowd. I have a hard time mustering indignation at an adversary whose responses are so tediously predictable so I won't bother. But I do want to comment on the false sense of jubilation being broadcast over the airwaves. Even Jon Stewart wasn't able to not do a mini victory lap around the studio. For all the jubilation on TV, I don't see very much of it around the city. No public celebrations, no underlying sense of relief. If anything, things feel even more tense than last week. There's an anxiety that comes waiting and wondering; What comes next?

Well apparently it's time to cash in.

Follow the money.

Former Secretary of State George Shultz is on the board of directors of the Bechtel Group, the largest contractor in the U.S. and one of the finalists in the competition to land a fat contract to help in the rebuilding of Iraq.

He is also the chairman of the advisory board of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a fiercely pro-war group with close ties to the White House. The committee, formed last year, made it clear from the beginning that it sought more than the ouster of Saddam's regime. It was committed, among other things, "to work beyond the liberation of Iraq to the reconstruction of its economy."

War is a tragedy for some and a boon for others. I asked Mr. Shultz if the fact that he was an advocate of the war while sitting on the board of a company that would benefit from it left him concerned about the appearance of a
conflict of interest.

"I don't know that Bechtel would particularly benefit from it," he said. "But if there's work that's needed to be done, Bechtel is the type of company that could do it. But nobody looks at it as something you benefit from."

Jack Sheehan, a retired Marine Corps general, is a senior vice president at Bechtel. He's also a member of the
Defense Policy Board, a government-appointed group that advises the Pentagon on major defense issues. Its members
are selected by the under secretary of defense for policy, currently Douglas Feith, and approved by the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld.

I've heard it said that war that death is the only constant. Interesting how money keeps coming up as well. The protesters that wave the "No War for Oil" have it wrong, but only because they've barely scratched the surface.

This isn't news to anyone. What's frightening is that they are getting away with it. Is it merely the media-saturation has us all too glutted with information that we can't pay attention? Or is it a deeper problem? We have such a huge tradition of worshipping the wealthy that I do have to wonder what the reaction would be if this story were spread across the front page and not buried in the editorial section.

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