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Home > War On Terror

We're only in it for the money

Wolfowitz gets them howling with a ruling on Iraq contracts.

10 December 2003

On the website of the Iraq Program Management Office, Paul Wolfowitz - the US Deputy Secretary of Defense - draws some lines in the sand...

On the one hand, Wolfowitz is keen to stress the rebuilding of Iraq is all about the immediate needs and political future of the Iraqi people:

In awarding the contracts, competition and the responsiveness to the needs of Iraqi people will be emphasized.

On the other hand:

It is necessary for the protection of the essential security interests of the United States to limit competition for the prime contracts of these procurements to companies from the United States, Iraq, Coalition partners, and force contributing nations. Thus it is clearly in the public interest to limit prime contracts to companies from these countries.

Odd that he should bother to give it this gloss. "Necessary"? "Essential"? Mr Wolfowitz doth protest too much. Why is he dressing this up as a "security" issue? He knows, we know, everyone knows this isn't about security.

And when he says of this limitation that it is in the "public interest", does he mean the public interest of the USA or the public interest of Iraq? It's a telling ambiguity. Either way, he glaringly fails to mention the "private interest" - which is what drives this whole ugly business. Does he think we're all twits?

At least he admits that the contracts act as an effective bribe: "The limitation of sources to prime contractors from those countries should encourage the continued cooperation of coalition members." What a self-satisfied little remark. Smirky.

All in all it's quite a self-satisfied document, with that repeated phrase: "prime contracts" - "prime" is such an ugly, lip-smacking word. It's the sort of word you'd normally attach to a plate of plump ribs. When you apply it to a contract to build an electricity substation, it just sounds smug.

The document has caused quite storm. Canada, Germany and the other black-balled nations (including Israel!) are furious at Wolfowitz about the ruling. Although do they honestly think he gives a shit?

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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