(To see photos of a countryside oasis in Ambar province, one of many shot-down old airplanes out in the desert, me, some children and an MRAP, go to my blog)
FAQ: "How long does it take to fly from Kuwait to Anbar province, in western Iraq?" If you fly in a C-17, it takes about an hour. The C-17 is a huge no-frills military troop transport jet that looks like the Bat Cave inside. All the plane's freight cargo and everybody's luggage sit right in there next to you, lined up on pallets, and you yourself have the choice of sitting in regular airline seats or sitting in lawn chairs. And there are no stewardesses, no inflight movies and no airline food.
Watching soldiers exit a C-17 at night is truly bizarre. It's like watching a big silver shark the size of Chicago giving birth to hundreds of tiny robots onto a large field covered with glo-sticks instead of runway lights.
FAQ: "What does the average soldier think of the war in Iraq?" Who the freak knows?
One soldier sitting next to me at the DFAC (dining facility) the other day told me that he thought that Iraq was a "resource war". "And this is just the beginning," he added. "Americans are soft, and are basically clueless about how to survive without their cars, appliances, supermarkets and gadgets. They are used to having everything done for them. They need to man up and learn how to grow things and build things and maintain some of the skills that our grandparents had. They are going to need these skills in the hard times to come."
FAQ: "What does Naomi Klein have to say about Iraq?" I actually found a copy of Klein's latest book, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" in an airbase give-away library yesterday while looking for something to read. Good grief, what a book! Am I the last person in the world to be reading this book? And if so, and everything that she writes is true, then why isn't everyone in the whole freaking world up in arms against the globalization movement and its "Disaster Capitalism" flying monkeys who deliberately take advantage of situations involving large-scale human misery in order to steal other people's stuff?
In her book, Klein states that economist Milton Friedman, the apparent godfather of globalization, "first learned how to exploit a large-scale shock or crisis in the mid-seventies, when he acted as adviser to the Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet. Not only were Chileans in a state of shock following Pinochet's violent coup, but the country was also traumatized by severe hyperinflation. Friedman advised Pinochet to impose a rapid-fire transformation of the economy -- tax cuts, free trade, privatized services, cuts to social spending and deregulation." Sound familiar?
This same plan of using chaos and disaster as an excuse to "de-regulate" and "privatize" and torture and murder and establish dictatorships and let corporatism raid the national treasury worked very well in Indonesia under Suharto, the USSR, the former Yugoslavia, Argentina after Peron, Brazil right after its 1964 coup, Asia during the 1997 financial crisis, Sri Lanka after the tsunami, a whole laundry list of African countries who fell victim of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund and, of course, Iraq. And don't forget that even here in the USA, Friedman and his followers had a field day after 9-11 and Katrina.
Klein also appears to think that, during Bush's 2003 famous Shock and Awe attack on Iraq and for several years afterward, Iraq was deliberately allowed to go to Hell in a hand-basket in order to create conditions of chaos that would generate an opportunity for rebuilding Iraq from the ground up as a colonial state controlled by corporatism -- like a neo-con version of what Mao was trying to do with his Cultural Revolution.
Further, Klein also strongly hints that American neo-cons have spent the last several years carefully engineering and orchestrating America's upcoming Great Depression sequel in order to generate some kick-ass Shock and Awe here at home -- so that in the chaos and confusion that results after the subprime goes nuts, hyperinflation hits hard and banks like Bear Stearns go under, they will be able to disassemble America as we know it and rebuild it again according to their own Disaster Capitalism model as well. Oops.
There appears to be a definite "intersection between super-profits and mega-disasters" in the minds of the followers of Milton Friedman, writes Klein. All I can say to that is Lord help us if they ever learn how to create man-made earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis.
FAQ: "What are the chances of Jane marching for at least half a mile in almost total darkness, across an unpaved airfield, from the C-17 to the Al Asad terminal pre-fab, while carrying all of her gear and yet managing to avoid falling flat on her face?" Zero.
FAQ: "How does one get from an airfield out in the middle of nowhere to the main part of Al Asad airbase at 1 am in the morning?" One stands around the terminal looking miserable for about 20 minutes, curses when one can't get the terminal's only telephone to work, searches for someone with an internet connection in order to e-mail one's point of contact to PLEEZE come get her and chats with a nice Kurdish man with a laptop but with no wi-fi connection. "What's it like up in Kurdistan now," one asks.
"Honestly? Right now it's rather peaceful and safe."
Then one goes and asks for help at the KBR office. Although KBR has a bad rep in the US for price gouging, no-bid contracts and violence toward its women employees, here in Iraq they are usually our go-to guys. "Walk outside that door, hang a left, proceed north for 50 feet and there will be a bus stop -- right past the construction equipment, port-a-johns, Humvees and blast walls. You can't miss it. A bus usually comes by every half-hour."