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Political Ties, Globalization: 
Corporate Invasion of Iraq



United States military forces in Iraq have been followed by corporations looking to cash-in on their political connections and the defeated country’s disarray.

Among the companies with contracts are Bechtel, a San Francisco-based construction corporation with many ties to Republican administrations, and Halliburton, formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney.

Protests have been directed at Bechtel, recipient of a $680 million contract that covers upgrading Iraq’s water and sewer systems. Halliburton has a $77 million contract to repair and distribute Iraq’s oil.

Both companies have experience in Iraq. While Cheney was in charge, Halliburton subsidiaries defied international sanctions to sell more than $70 million of oil equipment and services to Iraq. And while Saddam Hussein was gassing Kurds, Bechtel provided help in building a chemical plant linked to Iraq’s chemical weapons program.

Bechtel "is one of the top 10 water privatization companies in the world," observes Antonia Juhasz, project director at the International Forum on Globalization. "If its contract is extended to include ‘distribution of water,’ just as Halliburton’s was for oil, the people of Iraq have much to fear."

After privatizing Bolivian water systems, Bechtel made water so expensive many were forced to go without, says Juhasz.

The Bush Administration hopes to establish a free-market economy in Iraq, with the sell-off of public-owned industries, and to turn the entire region over to corporate exploitation. On May 9, President Bush announced plans for a U.S.-Middle East Free Trade area, to be realized by 2013.

The details of this "other" invasion are available in "The Corporate Invasion of Iraq," a report produced by U.S. Labor Against War (USLAW). The report profiles the records of 18 U.S. corporations granted contracts to participate in the reconstruction of Iraq.

Bob Muehlenkamp, USLAW co-convenor, depicted the corporations profiled in the report as a "rogues’s gallery" of notoriously anti-democratic, anti-labor, social irresponsible corporations.

"Iraqi workers were overjoyed to be rid of the Hussein regime but they also don’t want to exchange Saddam’s tyrannical rule for the rule of multinational corporations intent on privatizing their resources, and denying their democratic right to form independent trade unions," Muehlenkamp said. "Iraqi workers need and deserve to know whom they will be dealing with."

The report is viewed as the first step in an international campaign to assure that Iraqi workers enjoy the basic labor rights recognized by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

"The Corporate Invasion of Iraq" can be downloaded (in pdf format) by clicking here (from or for $5 by writing to USLAW at P.O. Box 153, 1718 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20036.

UE News - 7/03

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