'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Running Scared 

This is big news. Maybe Rumsfeld will end up resigning ... From the AP:

An international construction company has pulled out of its contract to rebuild Iraq's transportation systems, deciding it was too dangerous to stay, a spokesman for the U.S.-led reconstruction effort said Wednesday.

Contrack International led a coalition of firms working on a $325 million contract to rebuild Iraq's roads, bridges and railways. Contrack withdrew from that contract last month after a surge in attacks on reconstruction efforts, said Lt. Col. Eric Schnaible of the Pentagon's project and contract office in Baghdad.

"It's hard to do construction in a place where people are shooting at you or intimidating your work force," Schnaible said by phone. "It's a challenge across the country."

Yes, you read the above correctly: a corporation just turned down $325 million of free money from the US government. The contract in question was one of the twelve big reconstruction contracts granted last year.

Contrack International is a US subsidiary of Egypt-based Orascom Telecom. The Financial Times reports that, according to Orascom chairman Naguib Sawiris, all of the corporation's other subsidiaries in Iraq are considering following suit, including "the company trying keep Baghdad's cell phone business alive". Sawiris had the following to say about the situation:

I'm not into the business of putting the lives of my people in danger ... If (the violence) goes on, they won't find anyone willing to work in Iraq.

Notice too that the AP says the Contrack pull-out occurred "last month" -- before Tuesday's Mosul bombing which many an informed commentator suggests will become a watershed moment in the US occupation of Iraq.

In my posts below covering the surprising twist in which neoconservative luminary Bill Kristol decided to break with Rumsfeld, I argued that Rumsfeld probably wasn't being set up for a fall because I couldn't see what anyone would gain from it. What does someone like Kristol have to lose from Rumsfeld remaining in power? It's not like there's an election coming up -- so, you know, what pressure is Kristol under that led to what Buchanan called "the backstab of the year"?

The news above is one answer.

I don't mean in Bill Kristol's particular case, of course; I'm talking about Kristol as representative of a class of people. There are neocon true-believers, like Wolfowitz, who are accurately characterized, as Zbig Brzezinski just characterized them, as fanatics doing what they do for religious reasons, Kool-Aid drinkers, members of the cult of American empire. These true-believers are a powerful lot -- Bush Jr., in particular, has allowed them to ascend to the highest echelon of our political culture -- but they are not all-powerful and they aren't really that numerous. The true-believers wouldn't have gotten anywhere, wouldn't have gotten their war or their job titles, if it wasn't for another class of people who couldn't care less about transforming the world with American military power except for the part about making loads of easy money.

Corporations turning down hundreds of millions of dollars is an indication that the non-true-believers have lost faith in the true-believers' ability to generate profits.

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