July 31, 2000


We know who pays for our foreign policy of global interventionism. Not only the long-suffering American taxpayers, who must bear the burden of a "defense" budget more than equal to all military outlays of every nation on earth combined – and who are called upon to sacrifice their sons (and, now, their daughters) on the altar of the war god – but also the foreign victims of our militant "humanitarianism." The Iraqi children who are being starved to death by US-imposed sanctions, the Serb grandfather who watched his grandchildren explode in a burst of "smart" bombing, the night watchman at a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory who suddenly found himself in Bill Clinton's sights one unlucky night – these people, mostly poor and powerless, paid with their lives, or at least that which gives life such meaning as it has. But who profits from all this death and destruction? How could such an irrational policy possibly benefit anyone? Such wide-eyed naiveté, typically American, prevents us from seeing that quite clearly certain people do indeed benefit from a monstrous policy – and, furthermore, that these folks are entirely coincident with those who formulated and implemented the policy in the first place.


The most direct and obvious beneficiaries of imperialism are government contractors – those American companies and transnational consortiums that build and maintain the physical and financial infrastructure of America's global empire. A good example is the Halliburton Company, where Dick Cheney was CEO until he was tapped for the vice presidency. Cheney is the virtual embodiment of what Dwight Eisenhower called the "military-industrial complex," who segued easily from Bush's defense secretary to CEO of Halliburton, a major defense contractor as well as the biggest infrastructural engineer for oil drilling worldwide. In tracing the trajectory of "Cheney's Path: From Gulf War to Mideast Oil," the New York Times perfectly described the revolving door that hardly separates the corporate world from the US government: "Four years after helping to win the Gulf War and reclaiming the oil fields of Kuwait from Iraq, Dick Cheney, a former secretary of defense, went from fighting for oil to running a Dallas-based company that he has helped transform into the world's largest oil-field services company." Cheney was indispensable to Halliburton – and its subsidiary, Brown and Root, which has the contract for outfitting our Balkan occupation army – in a way only a former top foreign policy official could be: "Since joining the company in 1995, Mr. Cheney's background as a leader in the Gulf War has seemed tailor-made for Halliburton, since much of its business is done with Arab governments. Almost 70 percent of Halliburton's nearly $15 billion in annual sales comes from outside the United States."


The Times also reports that Halliburton under Cheney became a leading force behind "USA Engage," a coalition of trade associations that opposes the imposition of unilateral economic sanctions. Now this is a very curious group that, on the surface, appears to be doing some good work. The front page of their website is devoted to news and notes criticizing the counterproductive arrogance of sanctions, from Cuba to North Korea. Sanctions against Iran are deplored in particular as being contrary to US economic interests. But a search for the word "Iraq" will not find it on this page or any other. The biggest and most destructive example of a barbaric policy – a policy of genocide denounced by the Pope, the National Council of Churches, and such experts as former UN arms inspector in Iraq Scott Ritter – is not even mentioned by a group supposedly devoted to a great humanitarian cause. In an exchange with Elliot Abrams, who takes USA Engage to task for being insufficiently belligerent toward "rogue nations" such as Iraq, the group's Vice President, Frank D. Kittredge, protests that not a single press release or article put out by USA Engage calls for ending all sanctions:

"Elliott Abrams misrepresents the position of USA Engage and the business community when he states that 'the explicit goal of the several hundred business and trade associations that make up USA Engage is to end the use of sanctions as a tool of U.S. foreign policy,' he is simply incorrect. . . . We have gone to great lengths to point out that, yes, sometimes sanctions are necessary – and that national security should always be the paramount concern."


USA Engage – and behind them, Halliburton – chooses its causes with calculated precision. When some dotty Massachusetts town council banned all commerce with Burma because of alleged human rights violations, USA Engage went to court to stop the sanctions. The group argues that sanctions against Iran are counterproductive and that the time has come to "seek a modus vivendi with the rogue state." One USA Engage report argues, curiously, that sanctions have been good for Iran, which has prospered not only in spite of but because of the US attempt to isolate it. This has resulted in a popular mobilization, and has uplifted the economy. Business is good in Iran, whatever the reasons, and the general message, in short, is that there are profits to be made in Iran by US investors.


But the omission of Iraq from the laundry list of USA Engage's favorite causes should hardly be any great surprise – except for those naïve souls (again, nearly all of them Americans) who expect some sort of intellectual consistency or even honesty in the realm of public policy. Behind the mask of USA Engage lurks the grinning visage of Big Oil – and he has good reason to smile. For the denouement of a long campaign to solve the "problem" of Saddam Hussein is coming to a head in late August, when the UN Security Council is meeting on the matter of Iraq's refusal to allow arms inspectors back in unless and until the killer sanctions are lifted. As Scott Ritter and others maintain, Iraq has long lacked any sort of military capability that represents a credible threat to the US or its allies in the region – yet still the US and Britain continue their relentless bombing campaign. Yes, incredibly, the bombing of Iraq continues to this day, occurring well under the radar screens of the American public: children, hospitals, and other civilian targets have been hit. With Bush and Gore engaged in a chest-beating match to show who can be the toughest on Saddam, this bombing campaign is certainly going to escalate no matter which of the two major party candidates gets into the Oval Office The only question is who gets to give the order to attack, and when.


With the elevation of Cheney to the number two spot on the Republican ticket, however, it appears that Dubya is the chosen candidate of Big Oil – in spite of Gore's own intimate ties with the oil industry. As the Eastern wing of the Republican Establishment, the old Rockefeller faction, tightens its grip on the GOP and prepares to take the White House, it looks like President Dubya will give us a rerun of Desert Storm, in which the son may seek to redeem the perceived failures of his father – a dangerous possibility with unpleasant Oedipal overtones. Unless, of course, Bill Clinton pulls an "October surprise" and beats him to the punch. . . .


The choice of Cheney as Dubya's paladin and running mate is enormously significant. Big Oil has long sought a final solution to the Saddam Hussein problem, and when Dubya inherits his father's presidential mantle the lords of the gas pump hope to implement it. Bush's top foreign policy advisors, such as Richard Perle, have long advocated taking Baghdad and installing an army of occupation, as in Bosnia and Kosovo, a semi-permanent garrison to enforce to "democracy" at gunpoint – and, by the way, police the oil fields. Cheney is their man – and so, I'm afraid, is the affable and no doubt well-meaning but enormously ignorant Dubya.


Now don't get the wrong idea: the profiteers of globalism are by no means exclusively Republicans. I may have a special animus toward the Republican variety, as I'll readily admit, but the Cheney-Halliburton connection is small potatoes compared to some of the big boys, like George Soros. While Halliburton's subsidiary, the engineering firm of Brown and Root, has the contract for building the extensive infrastructure required by US troops in the Balkans, Soros has set himself up as the official banker and chief investor of the region – under US government auspices and with US taxpayers money. Soros Fund Management LLC is investing $50 million in a project to aid business expansion while the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) – an agency of the federal government – will put up another $100 million in "loan guarantees." At an official ceremony inaugurating the program, Soros declared ``Of all the people present, I'm the most nervous, because I actually have to deliver.''


But it was NATO that delivered first. Soros was a key figure in the propaganda campaign leading up to the Kosovo war, first through his financing of the American Committee to Save Bosnia and a whole bevy of groups, many of them militant Muslims, preaching intervention in the Balkans on behalf of "human rights" The Soros propaganda machine ceaselessly agitated for war with Serbia, and when it came he and his pet "human rights" activists applauded the longest and the loudest. Now that NATO has come through, Soros must "deliver" – that is, create profits for himself and his investors. While known as a philanthropist, if a highly eccentric one, Soros emphasized that his fund would practice "tough love" and, in the words of the Bloomberg News report, "be driven purely by profit." To the victor goes the spoils.


But all of us are driven by profit, even the ascetic Ralph Nader and the hermits who mortify the flesh and live out in the desert – for there is such a thing as a purely psychic profit, that is a value that is not monetary but which exists in our minds nonetheless: religion, obligation, love, revenge, or any number of other purely human motives, both sacred and profane. Through his Open Society Institute (OSI), which has insinuated itself into academia, government, and every level of public discourse, Soros has poured his fantastic wealth into causes as various as cheerleading US intervention in the Balkans, funding Arianna Huffington's three-ring "Shadow Convention," and calling for drug decriminalization – and he reaps his psychic profit, i.e. the personal satisfaction of seeing his ideas take root. With branches throughout Europe and Asia, OSI preaches a "free-trade" version of international socialism, a universalist creed hostile to the idea of national sovereignty. He for some reason is particularly concerned with the problem of how to manage international monetary institutions via a single centralized authority, a world central bank run by global economic planners. In spite of the fact that he made his fortune as a speculator who famously broke the Bank of England, Soros has denounced laissez-faire in a very boring book, and has also called for international regulation that would prohibit the very activities that have made him one of the richest men on earth.


Between these two varieties of war profiteers – between Cheney, on the right, and Soros on the left – the differences are purely stylistic. While the lefty Soros is constantly taking up loopy causes(euthanasia, drug legalization, Arianna Huffington) and Cheney has a reputation for hardheaded realism and social conservatism, when it comes down to dollars and cents both have their snouts in the same public trough: both are in on the Bosnia-Kosovo foreign aid gravy train, with Halliburton profiting from the physical reconstruction work while Soros builds up (and seizes control of) the financial infrastructure. This symbiotic relationship symbolizes the essential unity of "right" and "left" when it comes to the realm of foreign policy: working sometimes in tandem, and less often at cross-purposes, but always to their mutual profit, both wings of the ruling elite seek to create and extend the power of government – and consolidation of a single global authority. Whether it be some woozy Wilkeite One-World version of it, as projected by the universalist blatherings of Soros the Philosopher King, or the more realistic projections of an American empire extended to include a good deal of the civilized world (possibly excluding France, by mutual consent), is purely a matter of taste – and not much of a choice. This is what the two parties are offering this year in the realm of foreign policy: the internationalism of the right, as symbolized by Dubya-Cheney, and the "humanitarian" interventionism of the liberal-left, as personified by Gore and whomever. Anyone who thinks one or the other can deter us from our course of Empire – and the concomitant destruction of our old Republic – is fooling themselves.

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).

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