By Alan Scherstuhl
By Amy Nicholson
By Charles Taylor
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Brian Feinzimer
By CAROLINA DEL BUSTO
By AMY NICHOLSON
By Amy Nicholson
You already hate the Iraq War. You hate that George W. Bush and Colin Powell lied to the United Nations before the war about Iraqi involvement in 9/11. You hate that there were no weapons of mass destruction. You hate that Osama bin Laden is still on the loose. You hate that the war has actually helped Al-Qaeda's recruitment efforts. You hate that capturing Saddam did nothing. You hate that we were not greeted as liberators. You hate that Iraq has descended into civil war. You hate that the neo-con hawks who started this shit now admit the invasion was illegal. You hate that there is no exit strategy—hell, there is no timetable to develop an exit strategy, let alone a timetable to get out of Iraq.
You know the rest of the world hates this war. They hate us for violating international law, for denying the real reasons we went to war were to control Iraq's vast oil reserves and establish permanent U.S. military bases there, for "Shock and Awe," for killing 43,000 to 48,000 Iraqi civilians, for damaging peace and destabilizing the Middle East, for the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse, for the Haditha killings, for the Ishaqi incident, for the Hamadiya incident, for the Mahmudiyah incident, and for the Mukaradeeb massacre.
It is said there are now two superpowers: the United States and world opinion. It took until the summer of 2005—what took you so long?—for a majority of Americans to oppose the Iraq War. We can't stand that we are grappling with 2,703 Department of Defense-confirmed deaths of American servicepeople and more than $320 billion—as of June—in taxpayer dollars blown over there. The former chief economist of the World Bank has estimated the total costs of the Iraq War will be between $1 trillion and $2 trillion to the U.S. economy.
And yet, despite all this, along comes Robert Greenwald's Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers to make you hate this fucked-up quagmire even more. Since 2002, Greenwald has directed, produced and/or executive produced such documentaries as Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election; Uncovered: The War on Iraq; Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties; Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism; Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price; and The Big Buy: Tom DeLay's Stolen Congress.
Iraq for Saleproposes that the proliferation of private contractors performing the traditional roles of the U.S. military has cost our government more, produced shoddier work and allowed private workers to get away with the same crimes that have led to court martials against U.S. servicemen.
As Greenwald did with his Wal-Mart movie, he lets average-American participants—not wild-eyed conspiracy theorists—tell the story. We see grieving mothers, wives and children of private-company workers killed in Iraq. American military personnel—from grunts up to a brigadier general—give eyewitness accounts. Most effective are the workers hired by private contractors themselves. Many went to Iraq for the good pay and chance to serve their country, and left with life-changing injuries, world-view-altering encounters with corporate greed, or both.
The companies are invariably run by former top military and government officials, or members of the conservative/Republican/Christian Coalition club that gave generously to Bush-Cheney campaigns. Companies such as KBR, Titan, Blackwater and, of course, the one Dick Cheney used to lord over, Halliburton, are reaping billions after winning no-bid government contracts and seeing their stock values shoot skyward. Despite some companies getting caught engaging in fraud against the government, no subsequent laws or amendments have been passed by Congress to stop the abuse. As the film shows, elected politicians seem scared of offending the corporate fat cats.
"The American way is competition," retired Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters says near the end of the film, "and I cannot stress sufficiently that in the defense industry, when it comes to the big programs, there is no competition. It's monopoly, it's cartel behavior, it is corrupt, it is corrupting, it is corrosive to our national defense."
Critics/Bushies/corporate whores will complain that Iraq for Sale is too one-sided, but as video shown above the end credits reveals, Greenwald and his staff made repeated phone calls to Halliburton, KBR, Titan and Blackwater to get their sides of the story. All refused.
The end credits also show—in very small type—the names of all the Americans who gave generously to get Iraq for Sale made. Greenwald's frequent producing partner, Newport Beach's Jim Gilliam (see "Brave New Filmmaker," June 8), used the Internet and their Brave New Films database to raise $350,000 in one week by essentially ensuring each investor was a partner in the project. Like the scroll of Iraq War dead, the list seems as if it will never end.
IRAQ FOR SALE: THE WAR PROFITEERS WAS DIRECTED BY ROBERT GREENWALD AND PRODUCED BY GREENWALD, SARAH FEELEY, JIM GILLIAM AND DEVIN SMITH. UPCOMING BRAVE NEW THEATER SCREENINGS:
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