<\body> Stories in America: Must Read: The Bu$h Agenda

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Must Read: The Bu$h Agenda

Antonia Juhasz, visiting scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, was on Democracy Now! this morning talking about her new book, The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time. It's amazing that "Christians" and hardcore right wingers (the ones who aren't benefiting from war profiteering) still defend this activity. Here are a few of the most important and alarming points and facts Juhasz raises in the interview:

*Currently, 150 U.S. corporations have received $50 billion worth of contracts, as you said in the introduction, to utterly fail in reconstruction in Iraq, but the money has still been granted.

*That [reconstruction] plan was ready two months before the invasion. It was written by BearingPoint, Inc., a company based in Virginia that received a $250 million contract to rewrite the entire economy of Iraq. It drafted that new economy. That new economy was put into place systematically by L. Paul Bremer, the head of the occupation government of Iraq for 14 months, who implemented exactly one hundred orders, basically all of which are still in place today.

*And the most important company, in my mind, to receive blame is the Bechtel Corporation of San Francisco. They have received $2.8 billion to rebuild water, electricity and sewage systems, the most important systems in the life of an Iraqi. After the first Gulf War, the Iraqis rebuilt these systems in three months' time. It's been three years, and, as you said, those services are still below pre-war levels.

*Bremer became the dictator of Iraq. His orders laid out the law. Now, probably the most important thing to know is that that was completely illegal under international law. The Geneva Conventions are very specific about what an occupying power should do. It must provide basic security and services. It cannot change the laws or the political structure of the country it occupies. The Bush administration did exactly the opposite -- changed all the fundamental economic and political laws and utterly failed to provide for the security and the basic needs of the Iraqi people. What you hear most often in Iraq today is people saying, "Please just put us back where we were before you came."

*Chevron has seen its most profitable years in its entire 125-year history over the last two years. They are making out like bandits. They have been at the forefront of advocating for decades for increased U.S. economic access to Iraq.

*Chevron has been training Iraqi workers in the United States for years, mapping -- doing mappings, free services, so that they are ready, when the permanent government is in place, to sign contracts. And then, I believe, once those contracts are signed, they will get to work, but they need security. And what better security force than 150,000 American troops. And I do not think that those troops will leave, unless we all have something to do about it, until the oil companies are safely at work.

And here she explains the connection between high gas prices and the Bush administration:
The Bush administration is the most beholden administration probably in American history to the oil and gas industry. This is the first time in history that the President, Vice President and Secretary of State are all former energy company officials. In fact, both Bush and Rice have more experience as energy company officials than they do as government leaders. Cheney outbeats them. He's spent 30 years working for government. However, his five years at Halliburton have been so profitable that you might say that his Halliburton years outweigh their oil years, because Bush was a very bad oil company executive. But their links to the oil sector are deep.

The oil industry provided more than 13 times more money to the Bush-Cheney ticket in the first round of elections than it did to his competitor, nine times more in the second. And this industry has been absolutely coddled by the Bush administration: enormous tax subsidies, deregulation, and, I would argue, a war waged on their behalf.

Now, there's two intimate connections between the war and the price of gas. But first, I think it's very important for people to understand that the vertical integration of the oil industry, which has been absolutely exacerbated under the Bush administration. For example, ChevronTexaco and Unocal merging into one company, the completion of Exxon and Mobil's merger, all of these little companies merging into enormous behemoths, so that you have ExxonMobil being the company that has received the highest profits of any company in the world, over the last two years, ever in the history of the world. That is because of the vertical integration and monopoly power of these companies. That means that they control exploration, production, refining, marketing and sales.

The price of oil at the pump is about 50% the price of a barrel of oil, about 25% taxes, and then the rest is marketing and just the price determined by the company at the pump. So that means that about 18% to 20% is absolutely determined by the oil companies themselves and governed by the companies themselves. So they could reduce the price of oil and reduce their profit margin, or they could jack up the price of oil and increase their profit margin. They have chosen to do the latter.

And one of the things that has helped them do that is, first of all, the United States is receiving a tremendous amount of oil from Iraq. Oil is down in overall export and production, but not tremendously so. We were -- at prewar was 2.5 million barrels a day. We're now at about 2 or 2.2 million barrels a day. But 50% of that, on average, is coming to the United States, and it's being brought to the United States by Chevron and Exxon and Marathon. The myth of dramatically reduced supply has helped them create an argument to the American public, which is, you know, it's a time of war, we're suffering, gas prices are going to go up, everyone needs to come in and support this because this is war. Well, that's just not true. The companies are using that as a myth to help make it okay for them to receive these utterly ridiculous profits.


At 4/25/2006 2:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


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At 4/25/2006 3:16 PM, Anonymous Dick Cheney said...

Everyone who supports this war should be required to read this book. Therein lies the problem. Most people rely on soundbites and right wing talking heads. O'Reilly et al. are still obsessed with the rape case (important, but come on, we're at "war") and Cynthia McKinney.

At 4/25/2006 4:33 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

I notice that Antonia Juhasz was featured prominently at the recent "Educational Event" sponsored by United for Peace and Justice -- whose affiliations include the Communist Party USA, the Young Communist League, Communist Party of Vietnam, the Socialist Party, Palestine Activist Forum. etc.

Not surprising, I guess, considering she's a "visiting scholar" from the Institute for Policy Studies.

Well, I have to admit, if you like your information coming from the absolute end of the leftist spectrum, you can't do better than this.

At 4/25/2006 4:53 PM, Anonymous dick cheney said...

So you discredit someone who is offering clear cut facts because you don't like her politics or affiliations? Sad. You're in total denial. Go hang out with the guys who started PNAC. Oh sorry, they're in the White House. A much more credible bunch.
I'm sure you didn't bother to read the interview. The woman offers very few of her own opinions. She clearly did her homework about corruption, contracts and gas companies. You're just a sheep who pays taxes to multinationals who are in bed with politicians.

At 4/25/2006 5:29 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

Look, I didn't offer any comment other than to point out that the political neighborhood she lives in ain't exactly mainstream. Of course, you guys probabley appreciate that, so what's the big deal?

One thing I can't understand though -- given that the oil companies love Bush so much, you'd think they'd be watching out for his approval ratings a little better than they do...


At 4/25/2006 7:24 PM, Anonymous truthseeker said...

Then why write a comment that sounds like her affiliations take precedence over the FACTS??

At 4/25/2006 8:32 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

Well, let's just say I'm a little wary of political analysis coming from people with hard-left, pro-Communist affiliations. Same goes for affiliations with the Klu Klux Klan or other far right organizations. I just don't see enough responsible journalism from the outer fringes of the political spectrum, be it right or left, to have much confidence in their scholarship. Just a cursory reading of some of this stuff she cites about gas prices runs completely contrary to everything I've heard from other experts...both Democrat and Republican. I'd really like to hear (or read) a debate between her and someone else who isn't carrying the twenty tons of ideological baggage she is. But it doesn't look like that's gonna happen...from what I can see, she sticks pretty close to the ideological reservation. In fact, I haven't found anything where she's had to defend this stuff in a public forum. If anyone else has I'd be interested in seeing it.

At 4/25/2006 9:40 PM, Anonymous timmy said...

Antonia Juhasz:

"So they could reduce the price of oil and reduce their profit margin, or they could jack up the price of oil and increase their profit margin. They have chosen to do the latter."


And Exxon just reported a whopping 10.7% profit margin in the fourth quarter. Give me a break.


At 4/25/2006 10:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, so rip the woman's affiliations and link to cato. Typical. Funny how you never address facts about no-bid contracts and reconstruction failures. Gotta go pump some gas.

At 4/26/2006 9:45 AM, Anonymous timmy said...

Again, I'm not ripping the woman's affiliations, I'm merely pointing them out. Whether you find the nature of her company instructive is your call, but let's not pretend that Antonia isn't coming from anywhere other than the deepest of the deep space leftist political fringe. But hey, for those of you who believe ties to the Communist Party only increase one's credibility -- Antonia's your girl. (And yes, you're right, the Cato Institute doesn't have much to show for itself when it comes to Communist Party bedfellows...(sigh)..)

I do have to share this. Antonia had a bit part in the film "Breaking the Bank" (she's big into WTO protests and anti-capitalism across the board). She had a brief appearence where she made this insightful observation:

"Somebody's very scared of our big puppets, and they should be, because our puppets spread the message of coming together, of peace, of joy, or solidarity, of how you can come together in a protest and have it be a beautiful thing, and they should be scared of our puppets."

Scary. Big. Puppets.

Just the sort of insight you'd expect coming out of the mouth of a visiting scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies....I guess.


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