Thursday, August 21, 2003

Has Halliburton Inc. Hijacked America's Defense Policy?

In 'The Pentagon's Eastern Obsession' (NY Times Op-Ed, July 30)
Lawrence Korb asked whether the best explanation for Defense
Department plans to move US bases from Germany to Eastern
Europe might be the desire of the Bush administration to
punish 'Old Europe' over Iraq. 'Since moving to new bases
would not save money or improve our strategic flexibility,
there must be another motive' writes Korb. Indeed. But I
suspect a motive more rational than mere pique at long-time
allies. Korb points out that upgrading the 'crumbling and
out of date' Soviet-era bases of Eastern Europe will be
expensive. This begs the question as to who will be
contracted to rebuild the bases. Close friends
of the administration, perhaps?

I made the above comment in letter to the NY Times
(they didn't publish it). Today I came across a
story about the Pentagon's increased dependence on private military contractors by Barry Yeoman in the May/June issue of Mother Jones. You probably already know that VP Dick Cheney is the former CEO of Halliburton. Well, Yeoman reports that Halliburton subsidiary Halliburton KBR (formerly Brown & Root) has so far been awarded "$2.5 billion to construct and run military bases, some in secret locations, as a part of the army's Logistics Civil Augmentation Program." (my italics)

So let's put two and two together. Korb made a convicing argument that relocating US bases to Eastern Europe is uneccessary and costly. Also, he pointed out that the relative lack of infrastructure Eastern Europe would actually mean slower deployment times for US troops. Yet the Bush administration is hell-bent on building expensivenew bases anyway. I think Bush enthusiasm for new bases is about more than dissing Old Europe (as Korb speculates). It's mostly about funnelling US taxpayer dollars into the pockets of the same gang who get the big contracts to rebuild Iraq: Halliburton.

So we see that Bush defence policy is just like Bush tax cut policy, the interests of the United States of America never really seem to enter into the equation.

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