Wednesday, September 14
The Reconstruction of New Oraq: Corporations of the Whirlwind
By Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse, September 2005
"At times it is hard to ignore the comparisons between Baghdad (where I was less than a month ago and have spent more of the last two years) and New Orleans: The anarchy, the looting, some of it purely for survival, some of it purely opportunistic. We watched a flatbed truck drive by, a man on the back with an M-16 looking up on the roofs for snipers, as is common in Iraq. Private security contractors were stationed outside the Royal St. Charles Hotel; when asked if things were getting pretty wild around the area, one of them replied, ‘Nope. It's pretty Green Zone here.'" (David Enders, Surviving New Orleans, Mother Jones on-line)
In the decade before September 11th, 2001, "globalization," a word now largely missing-in-action, was on everyone's lips and we constantly heard about what a small, small world this really was. In the aftermath of Katrina, that global smallness has grown positively claustrophobic and particularly predatory. Iraq and New Orleans now seem to be morphing into a single entity, New Oraq, to be devoured by the same limited set of corporations, let loose and overseen by the same small set of Bush administration officials. In George Bush's new world of globalization, first comes the destruction and only then does one sit down at the planetary table to sup.
In recent weeks, news has been seeping out of Iraq that the "reconstruction" of that country is petering out, because the money is largely gone. According to American officials, reported T. Christian Miller of the Los Angeles Times last week, "The U.S. will halt construction work on some water and power plants in Iraq because it is running out of money for projects." A variety of such reconstruction projects crucial to the everyday lives of Iraqis, the British Guardian informs us, are now "grinding to a halt" as "plans to overhaul the country's infrastructure have been downsized, postponed or abandoned because the $24bn budget approved by Congress has been dwarfed by the scale of the task."
Water and sanitation projects have been particularly hard hit; while staggering sums, once earmarked for reconstruction, are being shunted to private security firms whose hired-guns are assigned to guard the projects that can't be done. With funds growing scarce, various corporations closely connected to the Bush administration, having worked the Iraqi disaster for all it was worth (largely under no-bid, cost-plus contracts), are now looking New Orleans-ward. [...more]