We must ask from what are the true origins of this economic surge? Can we attribute it solely to tax breaks for a wealthy elite of Republican-party donors? Let 's jump for a moment from the cushioned luxury of Crawford, to the bloody insurgency in Iraq, and the "perpetual war " against terrorism in full swing against an insurgency as resilient as the US economy. With last months clownish contradictions that the US will leave Iraq in 12 (Rumsfeld) or 2 (Cheney) years, this is a far cry from the bogus optimism of the neo-conservative propaganda circus beating their drums of war in 2002, with reassurances we would be welcomed as liberators, and gone within a year or two.
Let 's suppose for a moment that events in Iraq are going exactly as planned by this administration, or at the very least are following a contingency plan they find acceptable, and predicted before attacking Iraq. These predominantly Neo-conservative hawks have always understood that a war-economy would bear the economic fruit necessary to carry a second term for a lame-duck president, and were willing to send brave American servicemen and women to die in Iraq for this objective. Here 's a brief look at two of the many corporations making immense profit from the prolonged commitment of US forces in the region, and that I would suggest are largely responsible for this economic recovery. As we would expect, Halliburton shares have had a meteoric rise from around $10 per share at the start of the conflict in 2002, to almost $60 per share today a staggering 500% increase. They currently employ over 100,000 people, and have weathered a storm of accusations that they over-charged for supplying fuel and soldier 's meals. The General Electric Company (GE), a large weapons manufacturer with a powerful "imagination at work " inventing new military technologies, had stock that plunged from over $55 per share in 2000 to less than $25 at the start of the war, to ricochet upwards to its current level of $35 not quite as impressive, but a 25% increase on earnings reported for 2004. These performances are no doubt replicated in hundreds of companies traded on the US stock exchange, providing weapons and other services to the US military machine.
Seen in these cold and calculating statistics of economic performance, is US military action in Iraq setting up a prolonged bulk-head for the long-term economic exploitation of the region by predominantly American companies, for financial gain to boost an anemic economy? It is ridiculous to think otherwise. From the stance of the hawkish realists and neo-liberals in this Administration, a prolonged military commitment to an unstable region will continue to funnel profits from the public purse ($5 billion every month) to the very corporations who paid to have Mr. Bush placed back in the Whitehouse.
The "economically advantageous " instability in Iraq will prohibit the Iraqi 's from receiving investment from any other nationality not part of the American-lead coalition, let alone financing the setting up of their own businesses to carry out reconstruction work. Chaos and instability in Iraq will allow the continued plundering of Iraqi oil resources. Over $8 billion is unaccounted for under American rule, in a system of US-supervised corruption that exposes the UN "Oil for Food " scandal for the insignificant smoke screen that it really is.
It seems that the military-industrial complex Dwight D Eisenhower warned us about so long ago has finally come to fruition, and the great patriot had this to say on upon leaving office in 1961: -
"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."
Back at the ranch, George and his economic team had cause for celebration at such "good " economic news. But in these corridors of power, might not the neo-cons also be tacitly celebrating the economic contribution of sustained conflict in Iraq? So far removed from the human cost of war - over 25,000 Iraqi civilian dead and over 1,800 US fatalities - and with Eisenhower 's "alert and knowledgeable citizenry " cowed into fearful submission business is booming. With an administration and country that has overwhelmingly never worn a uniform, let alone experienced a war-zone, or ever questioned exactly what stocks and shares their 401K or financial portfolio is invested in, this war, like all those preceding it, is good for business. How long this war continues depends on how long we are prepared to turn a blind-eye, collectively as a nation and individually as investors, to the war-profiteers that have bought and paid for our government, and mortgaged our formerly democratic institutions to the highest bidder. Where is Dwight when we so desperately need him.
Nicholas Chavasse is a tourism marketing consultant living in Chicago, preparing for entry into grad school to study International Relations. An active member of the Network of Spiritual Progressives and active blogger, he is currently working on a thesis looking at Non-Violent Direct Action as an alternative to military intervention.