Dead Men Left

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The End of the Clash of Civilisations

I never fail to be amazed by the quantity of corruption, sleaze and incompetence the US/UK occupation of Iraq has managed to stir up with such gusto. Corruption, sleaze and incompetence come with colonial territory, of course: but not on this grand, unembarrassed scale. Iraq Revenue Watch have provided a summary of the Coalition Provisional Authority's audit of its expenditure. Perhaps its most dammning finding is that:

An analysis of the data suggests that of $1.5 billion in contracts, the CPA awarded U.S. firms 74 percent of the value of all contracts paid for with Iraqi funds. Together with its British allies, U.S. and U.K. companies received 85 percent of the value of all such contracts. Iraqi firms, by contrast, received just 2 percent of the value of contracts paid for with Iraqi funds. "Government favorites such as Kellogg, Brown and Root benefited at the expense of Iraqi companies whose workers badly need jobs," said Tsalik.

The report finds that 60 percent of the value of all contracts paid with Iraqi funds went to Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR)-the same company that Pentagon auditors in December 2003 found had overcharged the U.S. government for as much as $61 million for fuel imports into Iraq. A criminal investigation of KBR was launched by the Department of Defense in February 2004.

Disturbingly, it seems Blair, Cheney and Rumsfeld really did believe their own myths: that, having rolled triumphantly into Iraq, all the bounties of the West would fall upon the benighted Arabs. Anything else they did or did not do would be illegitimate intereference with the serene Triumph of Progress.

This is a peculiar combination of the Clash of Civilisations, and the End of History. Those supporting the war, from the "left" or the right, pick their mentor accordingly: the neo-conservative right have swallowed Huntington's thesis whole, whilst the pro-war "left" have spent too long flicking through Fukuyama's tome. We are either assuring the domination of the virtuous West and ensuring our own "security", or acting as midwifes to a post-historical Middle East bereft of ideology - bar liberal capitalism. Instead, as if to confirm the very crudest of analysis of imperialism, the free market attempts to prove that it really was all about the oil.