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Mayday: Crown Agents exposed

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  • tliouk
    Mayday protest at Victoria exposes Crown Agents role in war profiteering. author: worthing anarchists Friday 02 May 2003 Ref:
    Message 1 of 1 , May 2, 2003
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      Mayday protest at Victoria exposes Crown Agents' role in war
      author: worthing anarchists
      Friday 02 May 2003
      Ref: http://uk.indymedia.org/email_display.php3?article_id=66130

      Protesters staged an autonomous Mayday morning picket of Crown
      Agents' London office, holding a banner across its front entrance and
      handing out 300 leaflets in one hour to passers-by in Buckingham
      Palace Road, between Victoria rail and bus stations.
      The main text of the leaflet was as follows:

      Agents of War and Greed

      THERE is more than one kind of looter operating in Iraq at the

      We've all heard about desperate, impoverished masses grabbing
      whatever they can for themselves and their families under cover of
      the chaos and destruction caused by the illegal US/UK invasion.
      But you won't have heard so much about a very well established and
      well connected British organisation which is basically helping big
      greedy multinational companies to cash in on the riches of a country
      that has now been forcibly 'opened up' to western business interests.
      The firm is called Crown Agents and its London office is at 150
      Buckingham Palace Road, Victoria. It also has a big office in Sutton
      and an International Management Training Centre in Worthing.
      Crown Agents' usually low profile has been raised over the last month
      or two by its role in the take-over of Iraq.

      A report on the BBC website on March 11, before the war was launched,
      commented: "A fairly narrow coterie of international firms has
      developed a reliable sideline in post-war clean-ups. Construction
      firms such as the US's Fluor and Bechtel, Britain's Costain and
      Balfour Beatty, and France's Spie are usually the first in; service
      providers such as British Crown Agents and Swiss SGS are rarely far
      behind. Sometimes, this results in a sordid scramble or stitch-up."
      This prediction of Crown Agents' involvement quickly proved spot-on.
      The Independent reported on March 31: "Crown Agents, a privatised
      development assistance firm, has become the first British company to
      win a contract in the American programme to rebuild Iraq. It will be
      a subcontractor to International Resources Group (IRG), a US
      professional services firm providing technical assistance for
      planning and management of the reconstruction and rehabilitation
      activities in Iraq."
      So what exactly does Crown Agents do? If you want a straight answer,
      the one place not to look is the firm's own website,
      www.crownagents.com, which projects a predictably rose-tinted view of
      the organisation and its role in the world. It claims: "We help
      countries and public sector entities and businesses within those
      countries, to grow. We do this by working in partnership with our
      clients to confer the skills, ideas and material resources each needs
      at every stage of their development."
      But you can begin to understand what all this 'help'
      and 'development' might really all be about by glancing at the
      history section on the Crown Agents site. This reveals that its
      beginnings were in oiling the cogs of the British empire in the 19th
      century: "Crown Agents originated in 1833, when the Joint Agents
      General for Crown Colonies were appointed by H.M. Government. The
      Agents' remit was to reduce costs and increase efficiency in the
      procurement of goods and services to the Crown Colonies."
      Exactly 170 years later, Crown Agents is still busy facilitating
      imperialism, though these days the global greed machine prefers the
      Stars and Stripes to the Union Jack as its flag of convenience.
      Privatised in March 1997, Crown Agents lurks in that murky area
      between state and business that has become so central in the new age
      of corporate government. Its board boasts some notable links to the
      world of big business and banking - and these are just the ones
      actually declared on its own website! Chairman Peter Berry is "a
      director of listed investment trusts and Kier Group plc". Deputy
      chairman Francis Summer is "a non-executive director of the Bankers
      Investment Trust plc". Chief executive Jack Garvey has enjoyed a
      career with Unilever, Proctor and Gamble and Pepsico.

      Its holding entity is The Crown Agents Foundation, whose membership
      includes token 'worthy' organisations such as Christian Aid and
      British Overseas NGOs for Development. But the vast majority of names
      of both permanent and elected members hail, once again, from the
      world of business. There is the International Chamber of Commerce,
      for instance, and the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders
      Forum, not to mention Barclays Bank, British Telecommunications plc,
      Securicor plc, the Securities Institute, Standard Chartered Bank,
      Tate and Lyle plc and Unilever plc, for whom Crown Agents chief exec
      Mr Garvey put in such good work over the years.

      The British Government is also still very much involved with Crown
      Agents and is a Special Member of the Foundation. Indeed, it is
      important to remember that without governments to help them on their
      way, the sharks of multinational business would not be able to
      operate. Big companies can't wage wars to take over 'new markets'
      across the world. They need governments to do that for them. Big
      companies can't tax the population to pay for the wars or
      the 'rebuilding'. They need governments to do that, too. That's why
      it's so vital to these interests that political parties like New
      Labour are `business friendly'. Together, these partners in crime
      form a double act of con merchants ripping off the rest of us in the
      most lucrative scam you could imagine. Every year, more and more of
      our tax money is redirected by our corrupt central government
      straight into the pockets of the big business fat cats.

      We have been victims of this in the UK for years, with the constant
      privatisation of services that used to be under public ownership. Now
      it's the Iraqi people's turn to enjoy the wonderful world of
      business `democracy', as author Naomi Klein explained in The Guardian
      on April 14.

      She wrote: "Rather than rebuilding, the country is being treated as a
      blank slate on which the most ideological Washington neo-liberals can
      design their dream economy: fully privatised, foreign-owned and open
      for business... What is being planned is not reparations,
      reconstruction or rehabilitation. It is robbery: mass theft disguised
      as charity; privatisation without representation."
      There may still be some readers out there who think the war on Iraq
      was fought because of breaches of UN resolutions or the weapons of
      mass destruction that were strangely never used.
      But the Crown Agents' involvement in Iraq, and the way it is linking
      government with big business in a greedy scramble to strip Iraq bare,
      is yet another factor pointing towards an entirely different agenda
      behind the whole sordid, bloody affair.
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