6068Re: How Fairs the Night?
- Aug 9, 2004Monday 09 August 2004
"I sat with a photographer from Reuters who had just returned from a
six-month tour of Iraq. He had been tagging along with the Kellogg
Brown & Root operation, subsidiary of Halliburton, and saw
everything there was to see. He went from new military base to new
military base, from the oil work in the north and back to the south,
observing how busy were the contactors for Halliburton.
"I feel like I compromised every one of my principles by even being
over there," he told me after the story had been spun out a bit. His
eyes, which had seen too many things through the lens of his camera,
"It was two years ago that talk about invading Iraq began to
circulate. Reasons for the invasion were bandied about - they had
weapons of mass destruction, they had a hand in September 11, they
will welcome us as liberators - but it wasn't until the Project for
the New American Century got dragged into the discussion that an
understanding of the true motives behind all this became apparent.
"As for the corporate takeover of the Iraqi oil industry, that has
become the prime mission of the American soldiers engaged there.
Kellogg Brown & Root also does a tidy business in the oil-
infrastructure repair market. "The troops aren't hunting terrorists
or building a country," said the Reuters photographer. "All they do
is guard the convoys running north and south. The convoys north are
carrying supplies and empty tankers for the oil fields around Mosul
and Tikrit. The convoys south bring back what they pull out of the
ground up there. That's where all these kids are getting killed.
They get hit with IEDs while guarding these convoys, and all hell
"That last goal, about overthrowing other regimes in the region,
hasn't been as easy to follow through on as the PNAC boys might have
hoped. The Iraqi people are fighting back, and the small-by-
comparison force Rumsfeld said would be enough to do the job can't
seem to pacify the country. Perhaps that is because too many troops
are dedicated to guarding the oil supply lines. More likely,
however, it is because of the sincere belief among the Iraqi people
that they have been conquered - not 'liberated' but conquered - and
their conquerors don't give a tinker's damn whether they live or
"The Americans over there have all these terms for people who aren't
Americans," the Reuters photographer said. "The Iraqi people are
called LPs, or 'Local Personnel.' They get killed all the time, but
it's like, 'Some LPs got killed,' so it isn't like real people died.
Iraqi kids run along the convoys, hoping a soldier will throw them
some food or water, and sometimes they get crushed by the trucks.
Nothing stops, those are the orders, so some LPs get killed and the
convoy keeps rolling. The labels make it easier for them to die. The
people are depersonalized. No one cares."
"Everyone is an 'insurgent' over there," the photographer told
me. "That's another label with no meaning. Everyone is against the
Americans. There is a $250,000 bounty on the head of every Westerner
over there, mine too, while I was there. The Americans working the
oil industry over there are the dumbest, most racist jackasses I've
ever seen in my life. That's the American face on this thing, and
the Iraqi people see it."
The soldiers over there are hip to the jive at this point. Michael
Hoffman, a Marine corporal in artillery, was part of the original
March invasion. Before Hoffman's unit shipped out, his battery first
sergeant addressed all the enlisted men. "Don't think you're going
to be heroes," said Hoffman's sergeant. "You're not going over there
because of weapons of mass destruction. You're not going there to
get rid of Saddam Hussein, or to make Iraq safe for democracy.
You're going there for one reason and one reason alone: Oil."
"The Reuters photographer I spoke to couldn't get any soldiers to
talk about how they felt when surrounded by their fellow
soldiers. "They don't talk in the ranks, or just about anywhere on
base," he said. "You have to go out to the latrine area, to the Port-
O-Potties. For some reason, they talk there. You can read how they
really feel - all the anti-Bush stuff, all the wanting to go home -
in the writing on the shithouse walls."
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