Ten nights ago, President George W. Bush spoke to the American public requesting an $87 billion aid package to assist ongoing military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This is money that the President should not have even been asking for in the first place.
Ever since Saddam Hussein’s overthrow, U.S. policy in Iraq has been schizophrenic, offering neither a coherent plan for the creation of a new, democratic regime or in assisting the liberated people of Iraq with the reconstruction that their war-ravaged country so desperately needs.
Instead, over the past few months, we have seen the following:
The contract for building Iraq’s cellular phone network going to MCI Worldcom.
MCI Worldcom has never built a cellular network before and has little experience in the Middle East.
Regardless of Bush’s talk of internationalism and open doors, companies with more than 10 percent foreign ownership were prohibited from submitting bids.
This by-law allowed Worldcom to slip by more experienced, foreign competitors such as Vodafone, NTT DoCoMo of Japan and Batelco, all of whom have built similar networks before.
Then, to sweeten the deal, Worldcom’s contract was sealed before U.S.-based competitors like Sprint even had a chance to compete.
Apart from being one of Bush’s major campaign contributors, Worldcom is also the company known for wiping away the pensions and life savings of thousands of it’s employees after an $11 billion accounting scandal.
The Army Corps of Engineers granted several no-bid contracts totaling $2 billion to the Halliburton Corporation.
Halliburton’s former CEO is Vice President Dick Cheney, a man whose severance package from Halliburton included provisions for rejoining the corporation upon the end of his term in office.
Halliburton, through it’s Kellogg, Brown & Root subsidiary, will be responsible for building and managing military bases, logistical support for intelligence officers searching for those mysterious WMDs and delivering mail and food services for army bases.
Traditionally, these have been roles assumed by the military itself.
The Bush administration dismisses any talk of cronyism in this contract.
There is an inability by American troops to maintain peace in Iraq.
Having entered this war without a clear occupation plan, American troops are now stuck in the middle between infinite, ever-shifting Shiite, Sunni and Kurd factions.
In addition, multiple incidences of accidental killing of civilians have occurred, such as the gunning down of eight Iraqi policemen by U.S. troops on Sept. 12 and several incidents at border crossings over the past several months.
Nearly every day brings news of attacks on American soldiers and of new riots taking place across the country.
Our lack of a clear occupation plan before entering this war was a betrayal of both American soldiers and the Iraqi people we are supposedly there to help.
There is also a continuing inability upon the United States’ part to restore basic services to Iraq.
While contracts for building new bases and cell phone networks are being doled out, the less glamorous end of reconstruction is being neglected.
Most Iraqis still lack access to clean water and electricity – services they had even under the despotism of Saddam Hussein.
America has already suffered a loss of prestige around the world due to the Bush administration’s behavior in the months leading up to the war.
With every day that Iraq remains a quagmire and the greatest nation in the world remains unable to live up to it’s promises to a people they helped liberate, we lose even more.