Iraq: When Capitalism Goes Bad
America’s legacy in Iraq is little different than other eras where American capitalism was out of control. Vietnam was first; Iraq is second. If America does not self-regulate and reform from within, it may have to suffer a third disasterous defeat, which may not be isolated to the battlefield.
The way forward is to explore what permitted these abuses to continue without restraint; and device a stronger Constitutional system which will prevent this from happening again.
Bad capitalism is characterized by four phases, each which occurred in Iraq. The "failure to plan" is not a new phenomena, but a natural outgrowth of flawed American planning on Wall Street and in the District of Columbia.
(1) Illegal entry
Unregulated capitalism has no regard for standards, requirements, or morality. It brutally destroys lives. Unregulated warfare gives us Iraq: Illegal invasions, prisoner abuses, and fabricated justifications for the original invasion.
Unregulated capitalism is marked by abuse, meaningless assistance, no solutions to social problems, a deteriorating situation, and propaganda to blame workers who complain about their mistreatment.
Unregulated warfare in Iraq gives us Geneva violations, meaningless assistance to the Iraqis, no solution to their current problems, a far worse/less stable situation, and plenty of propaganda to blame everything but those who caused the problem: The White House.
(3) Profit Extraction
Unregulated capitalism is marked by quick profits, fraud, and no audits. We’ve seen the same in Iraq with private discussions between the energy firms and the Vice President; secret agreements; corporations pushing for war on the basis of illusory evidence; insider trading; fraud; and meaningless audits of the funding flows.
(4) Quick Exit
Unregulated capitalism simply shuts down operations without notice. No corporate official is held accountable for the carnage and destruction they’ve created. Corporations create shell companies to hide owners and protect extracted profits. The ultimate goal of the corporation is to pass the burden to others and hide cash.
Similarly, the American experience in Iraq is marked by poor accountability; a willingness to use shell companies to avoid accountability; and a quickly transition from American ‘control” to “something else." Just as American CEOs hope to pass the risks to others, so too has the White House in Iraq.
The world does not respect abuse of power, whether it is in the form of abusive capitalism or war crimes. This was a war of choice. Iraq is the story of what happens when American capital interests move without regard to the rule of law.