Chunnel: no problem. Iraq: big problem.
November 1, 2006 9:38 PM   Subscribe

Cut and Run Capitalism. Bechtel leaves Iraq after "heartbreaking" failures. Who's next?
posted by If I Had An Anus (49 comments total)
 
I'm pretty surprised by this development. Chaos is such a cash cow. Perhaps they fear Democratic control of the purse strings?
posted by If I Had An Anus at 9:41 PM on November 1, 2006


Bang-up job you guys did here in Boston!
posted by kid ichorous at 9:46 PM on November 1, 2006


Holy cow, I had no idea 52 of their people got killed.
posted by rolypolyman at 9:51 PM on November 1, 2006


Could this have anything to do with the attack on Camp Falcon? Does anyone really know what happened there?
posted by stammer at 9:51 PM on November 1, 2006


kid ichorous: ym "heckuva job."
posted by keswick at 9:51 PM on November 1, 2006


Bang-up job you guys did here in Boston!

Yeah, no shit. I recently came across the exhibit at the science museum they built in the early 90's advertising the Big Dig plans. Depressing as hell.

Somehow it's really hard for me to feel any sympathy for Bechtel.
posted by inoculatedcities at 10:11 PM on November 1, 2006


I like how the article presents the current situation as something completely natural, something that just happens to be this way:[...]in a country where virtually every road, power plant and waterworks needs repair.[...]War-damaged bridges[...]Airports in Baghdad and Basra were repaired to handle civilian flights.[...]
Nowhere does it come right out and say that most of this damage was done by the attacking forces that used their "surgical precision" missiles to destroy important infrastructure.
I'll admit that the article later adds that some of the recent trouble seems to stem from terrorists, but isn't one of the reasons the place is such a shambles that the "coalition of the willing" bombed it into oblivion in the first place? The repairs would not be necessary if the stuff hadn't been damaged/destroyed in the first place, would they?
I'm not trying to attack the American strategy here, but it should be logical that if you target civilian infrastructure the repairs will have to be done in territory that is antagonized by your previous actions; and if you cannot restore basic services at least to pre-war levels after several years you won't be seen as a saviour, but as someone who lowered the quality of life.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 10:18 PM on November 1, 2006


Bechtel Corp. went to Iraq three years ago to help rebuild a nation torn by war. Since then, 52 of its people have been killed and much of its work sabotaged as Iraq dissolved into insurgency and sectarian violence.

We always hear how many U.S. troops have been killed, (2818 as of today) as if that is the only number that really matters. I have often wondered how many contractors and other members of the "coalition of the willing" have died during the occupation. Does anyone here know the answer?
posted by leftcoastbob at 10:33 PM on November 1, 2006


The funny thing is, there are legions of Iraqi engineers out of work right now who would rebuild the country for pennies on the dollar (they already did it after Gulf War I). Instead we shovel cash into the furnaces of Bechtel et al, and the unemployed engineers are left on the wayside...or perhaps they're making IEDs in their ample spare time.
posted by mullingitover at 11:10 PM on November 1, 2006


Was Bechel's a "cost-plus" contract like Halliburton's? I.e., the more money you throw away, the more you get paid? It would amaze me that they'd leave if it was.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:12 PM on November 1, 2006


I don't suppose they'd shoveled so much money into the bank that they were just overtaken by good old-fashioned shame and remorse?

Gyro Gearloose (sorry kiddies) once made a machine that chewed up dirt and turned it into peppermint frappe ice cream ... but he couldn't turn it off and it devoured a whole island.

Sort of what Bechtel's like, if you think about it.
posted by Twang at 11:42 PM on November 1, 2006


Tangentially related, but Reuters just said that the Air Force is going to request $50 billion in supplemental funding this year. Just for the Air Force. Meanwhile, the Army is asking for $80 billion in supplemental funds just for the second half of 2007.
posted by gsteff at 11:57 PM on November 1, 2006


So, I'm here at the country club having a few drinks with the Vice President, and darned if ol' Dick Cheney (who just can't stay away from the intertubes these days) comes across this:

there are legions of Iraqi engineers out of work right now who would rebuild the country for pennies on the dollar... Instead we shovel cash into the furnaces of Bechtel et al...

Well, we share a good laugh, and Dick says "Damn, that mulling fellow just doesn't get it, does he? He thinks we went over there to give money to a buncha sand ni..." but then his Secret Service guys sorta motioned him to, you know, cool that kind of talk. He was still chuckling about it, though, on the way back to UNDISCLOSED LOCATION.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:20 AM on November 2, 2006


So the permanent bases are now complete? Mission accomplished, right?
posted by gemini at 12:50 AM on November 2, 2006


Even is my deep jadedness, this is pretty shocking.

As for the 52 dead civilians (I didn't know it was that many), pre-Rumsfeld they were doing things that the corps of engineers would do, i.e., Army guys. The billions given to these private companies was the ultimate "off the books" scheme.

It's hard to fathom just how bad it was for Bechtel, given the pretty much endless supply of cash the US government was paying them. Who knows -- maybe they just couldn't hire people once word of mouth was out about how bad things were. It was a double-edged sword really -- if you were driving a supply truck as a civilian and got attacked, the regular army might help you out. Then again, they might not. They weren't fully obligated to, and they probably had higher priority missions going on.
posted by bardic at 1:21 AM on November 2, 2006


It's hard to fathom just how bad it was for Bechtel, given the pretty much endless supply of cash the US government was paying them.

It might have something to do with the sudden possibility of investigations now that the US may once again have some checks and balances. I imagine 'handle paperwork' involves shredding.
posted by srboisvert at 1:38 AM on November 2, 2006


True.
posted by bardic at 2:56 AM on November 2, 2006


They're not alone:
"Manhattan security company Kroll has withdrawn its bodyguard teams from Iraq and Afghanistan after it lost four workers in Iraq, its parent company said Wednesday.

Michael Cherkasky, president and chief executive of Kroll owner Marsh & McLennan Cos., told The Associated Press that the business in the two countries wasn't worth risking the lives of their employees."
posted by PenDevil at 3:00 AM on November 2, 2006


I think this isn't bailing at all, it is just asking for more money, now that they have cashed the previous round of checks. And if they fail, well it was a good trip.

I also doubt they spent that much money into doing anything of substance ; why should one spend 100 on a working generator if you can spend 50 on a used one that will be destroyed in a week by a "terrahrist" ? That's doubleplus good, who's going to prove it was an used one , the government of iraq ahahaha ?!

No wonder the iraqui people now have an even worse opinion of everything western.
posted by elpapacito at 3:34 AM on November 2, 2006


sympathy for Bechtel.

"please allow me to introduce myself..."
posted by quonsar at 4:30 AM on November 2, 2006 [5 favorites]


"please allow me to introduce myself..."

wooo - wooooo!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:44 AM on November 2, 2006


This seems to me the worst news yet in the almost endless list of bad news the president and his pals have been getting in the last year from Iraq.

Bechtel leaving Iraq is as big a development as Great Britain pulling out.
posted by bukvich at 4:57 AM on November 2, 2006


quonsar: you are a man of wealth and taste ?
posted by elpapacito at 5:26 AM on November 2, 2006


Gimme a break !
posted by elpapacito at 5:26 AM on November 2, 2006


Michael Cherkasky, president and chief executive of Kroll owner Marsh & McLennan Cos., told The Associated Press that the business in the two countries wasn't worth risking the lives of their employees."

Translation: Losing mercenaries means death cash to the families, which raises salaries and premiums for live mercenaries — and cuts into profit margins.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:47 AM on November 2, 2006


Engineers are mercenaries now?
posted by Cyrano at 6:46 AM on November 2, 2006


Blazecock was referring to Kroll, Cyrano.
posted by If I Had An Anus at 7:03 AM on November 2, 2006


Meanwhile, these guys are stuck in Iraq.
posted by taosbat at 7:07 AM on November 2, 2006


mullingitover writes "The funny thing is, there are legions of Iraqi engineers out of work right now who would rebuild the country for pennies on the dollar (they already did it after Gulf War I)."

This isn't about rebuilding Iraq -- in fact very little of Iraq is getting rebuilt at all. This is all about corporate welfare for the US regime's patrons. Rumsfeld used to be on the board of Bechtel (and spent quite a bit of time in the 80s lobbying Saddam's government for Bechtel contracts even as he was there on official US government business), we all know about the ties that used to -- and still do -- bind Dick Cheney's fortune to Halliburton's, etc. Just look at the number of, well, crimes by Halliburton are documented here (there's really no other way to put it). These people don't give a sh*t about the projects they're in charge of once they've been paid. They don't care how many people die as a result of their not discharging their duties. It's fucking sad, but it's true.
posted by clevershark at 7:17 AM on November 2, 2006


The U.S reconstruction push in Iraq is winding down. About $18 billion in funding that Congress approved three years ago was supposed to be spent or committed to specific projects by the end of September. Two of the U.S. government agencies that have overseen the work are scheduled to close shop early next year. The United States and other countries are discussing another round of aid, but if it comes, Iraqi ministries are supposed to take the lead on rebuilding.

"That's really an under-told story -- we've stopped the reconstruction," said Frederick Barton, co-director of the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project at the Center for Strategic & International Studies think tank. "There are some things we're still finishing up, but we're wrapping up, and we're stepping back. It's really a tragedy."


Mission Not Accomplished.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:33 AM on November 2, 2006


I find it both sad and funny that so much brouhaha was made about a few hundred millions that were looted in the oil-for-food "scandal", while God knows how many billions were poured into the corporate welfare black hole that was the "Iraqi reconstruction".

But then that must surely be the fault of the "liberal media".
posted by clevershark at 7:41 AM on November 2, 2006


"And why behold you the splinter that is in your brother's eye, but consider not the beam that is in yours own eye?" Matthew 7:3
posted by clevershark at 7:44 AM on November 2, 2006


Could this have anything to do with the attack on Camp Falcon? Does anyone really know what happened there?
posted by stammer at 9:51 PM PST


I'm sure the military knows. But that information isn't going to make it to the blue, unless its the result of some form of investigation/the link to the book about the attack some years in the future.

The reporting range from 'a few dead, and it wasn't an important place' to 300+ dead/hurt and a billion+ worth of ammo up in smoke.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:54 AM on November 2, 2006


Nothing to see here, folks. Just market forces making corrections. Move along, now. Go buy something.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:40 AM on November 2, 2006


Huh, I hadn't heard anything about Camp Falcon. Surprise!

That is absolutely stunning. Watch this video of the Ammo Dump burning on the skyline, and tell me what that is at 3:55. Wtf?
posted by prostyle at 9:05 AM on November 2, 2006


Not to defend Bechtel, but they didn't really cut and run, their contracts ran out. It's more appropriate to say the government cut and ran by not renewing them....
posted by Big_B at 9:11 AM on November 2, 2006


tell me what that is at 3:55. Wtf?

It's a large explosion.

It is in no way a nuke of any size. If a nuke had gone off, it would have been obvious to the entire world. There are little things like massive bursts of radiation and radioactive fallout and an EMP that tend to clue people in.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:19 AM on November 2, 2006


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.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower Farewell address
posted by elpapacito at 11:13 AM on November 2, 2006


My dad was shit-canned from Bechtel just before he reached a pension-vesting milestone, after 29 years. They're no different than any other giant corporate welfare whore. Those men didn't deserve that but Bechtel as a company can bite me.
posted by maxwelton at 12:05 PM on November 2, 2006


Iraq for Sale torrent (nsfw)
posted by elpapacito at 3:26 PM on November 2, 2006






President-General Eisenhower did so much to protect us from the military-industrial complex. Good thing he heroically warned us before it was too late.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:09 PM on November 2, 2006


I have often wondered how many contractors and other members of the 'coalition of the willing' have died during the occupation. Does anyone here know the answer?

Iraq Coalition Casualties has a partial list of contractors killed in Iraq (currently 367). They also list 5,703 Iraqi security personnel killed (4,403 since the beginning of 2005), 120 UK military killed, and 119 other coalition military killed.

Wikipedia's list of multinational forces in the "Coalition of the Willing." After the US military, the second-largest contingent is approximately 35,000 private military contractors, then 7,200 UK military. The other coalition countries each have fewer than 1,500 troops in Iraq.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:38 AM on November 3, 2006


Congress Tells Auditor in Iraq to Close Office

Investigations led by a Republican lawyer named Stuart W. Bowen Jr. in Iraq have sent American occupation officials to jail on bribery and conspiracy charges, exposed disastrously poor construction work by well-connected companies like Halliburton and Parsons, and discovered that the military did not properly track hundreds of thousands of weapons it shipped to Iraqi security forces.

And tucked away in a huge military authorization bill that President Bush signed two weeks ago is what some of Mr. Bowen’s supporters believe is his reward for repeatedly embarrassing the administration: a pink slip...
posted by taosbat at 6:45 AM on November 3, 2006




Glenn Greenwald puts this in context of Matt Taibbi's recent article on Congress.
posted by homunculus at 12:48 PM on November 4, 2006




Thanks for the intense link, homunculus, I emailed it to everyone I know. I thought of this FPP I posted in September quite a lot as I watched it. I hope Smedleyman sees this 'cause he doesn't have an email link in his profile or I'd ensure it.
posted by taosbat at 8:26 PM on November 5, 2006


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