Monday, April 02, 2007

A. Cockburn, Jeffry St. Clair, Monica Benderman

First up, please read Kat's "Kat's Korner: Holly Near Shows Up." She wrote it Saturday. When we were on the phone to the gang in California, she mentioned she'd finished a review and I was dying to see it. I guess, even though I thought I wasn't hinting, I was because C.I. told me it was saved at The Common Ills (it went up right before midnight their time because even though it was supposed to be a quick edition, C.I. didn't believe it would be and by putting it up at midnight, there would be something at The Common Ills for anyone who went to the site and wanted to read something.) It's amazing and so is the CD. Holly Near is a name I knew and I'm sure I've seen her perform at some point. But I never had one of her CDs ('back in the day,' Rebecca and C.I. both made me 'mix tapes' and would usually include a song or two by her on them, so I did know her work). I'm so excited by Show Up (Holly Near's new CD), that as soon as I wear it out (or in a week or two), I'm going to get the double disc set to dive into more of her work. This really is an amazing album -- it's very diverse and the music is so strong. If you're looking for a CD to purchase, I strongly recommend this one.

Because I've gotten so bad about remembering to note things, let me note three things that went up on Saturday. First "Ruth's Report," is Ruth's latest. She addresses the way the will-not-end-the-war bills are being portrayed as though they will. Betty's "If it makes me happy, why the hell is Friedman so sad?" was a headache for her. She tried and tried to get something up on Friday but it wouldn't come. She slept on it and found a way to further a plot point and to be funny. That's not always easy for her -- sticking to her outline, advancing the story and being funny. She pulled it off (she pulled it off again) and it's more than worth reading. Finally, Trina's "Maddison's Special Easy Bake in the Kitchen" offers a recipe that's very simple because it's a kids' recipe. In addition, she's discussing politics. All together, it makes a nice visit to 'the kitchen.'

"On Keeping Men Alive" (Monica Benderman, CounterPunch):
An enormous brick box, with few windows and another bright green metal roof, its one distinguishing aspect is the pristine white steeple pointing sharply to the sky like a lightning rod beckoning the presence of a higher power to grant redemption and instant healing for questioning soldiers looking for answers when the haunting ghosts of the reality of war come creeping into their consciousness unwilling to be denied. Is that the answer; a building, a steeple and a prayer?
Just a half mile down the road is Warrior Walk ­ 320 Redbud trees serve as a living memorial to this war's contribution of over 300 honorable dog-faced soldiers who have now given their lives in combat. Seeming testimony to the fact that the sacrifice of the 35,000 dog-faced soldiers who had died before, lost its meaning on the day our leaders lost their courage, and neutered their souls by believing it was the strength of war machines that could give them true power over those who only wielded swords.
Only a few short months ago the command at Ft. Stewart announced the grand opening of "Rocky's" night club. What had once been a family sports center now became a full-fledged bar established on post to give soldiers a safe environment in which to drink their troubles away when the prayers didn't work and the steeple lost its power.
The regulations for visitation for non-military personnel were relaxed when the sun went down and Rocky's opened, and on-post privileges no longer required a stop at the visitor's access building as long as cars were licensed, drivers were licensed and heading to Rocky's for a drink and more. To commanders, there was no point in giving soldiers a place on post to drink if there were no girls at the bar ­ so the bar was opened, the rules relaxed and I wonder how many notice the steeple as they drive on past neutered Rocky standing a little less proudly on guard before the behemoth of office space replacing the once commanding headquarters for the division that had refused to back down from its stand at the banks of the Marne.
Just before driving out of the back gate onto the road leading through the training grounds of the Mighty Third stands a flashing neon sign proudly announcing "185 days since our last driving fatality."
The training grounds of Ft. Stewart belie their true purpose. Rifle and artillery ranges are carefully hidden behind walls of tall Georgia pines. For every road marked "off limits to civilians" there is another marked "landing area" leading to the peaceful banks of a slow moving river full of catfish, bream and wildlife safe in the refuges acting as barriers to the real purpose of the land. On almost every red-clay dirt road is a marker pointing to a cemetery lined with protective fencing, dating to the early 1800's or sooner; the only remaining testimony to the small civilian towns devoured by the progress of a warring nation.
One mile down the road in a cutaway that once was forest, is the first billboard of almost thirty ordered erected by the installation command.
In the clearing before the sign I pull off of the roadway and turn off the lights. A small herd of deer feed in the moonlight, just near enough to the safety of the trees to scamper quickly if someone approaches too closely. The stars overhead seem to go on forever in the darkness and somewhere a giant owl calls out ­ wisdom from nature wondering when we will finally understand.
I glanced up at the boldly lettered sign:
"Don't Drink and Drive, We Want Our Soldiers Alive."
We're spending millions of dollars on a new headquarters for our military machine and millions more on a building with a steeple whose purpose is to help with the aftermath of the destruction that military machine creates.
The training ground for the "dog-faced soldiers" lies in the middle of a wildlife sanctuary lined with over 100 cemeteries memorializing a time when communities lived where Abrams tanks now patrol.
Three more soldiers died in combat today.

That needs no comment because it says everything that needs to be said. I'm really looking forward to the book by Monica and Kevin Benderman. It should be a very powerful read.

Mike wanted us to both highlight the following item.

"Get Out -- Now" (Dennis Jett, Common Dreams):
Despite all the rhetoric and resolutions emanating from Washington, two fundamental facts about the war in Iraq won't change. The killing will continue, but not all of it has to.Iraqis will continue to die in large numbers regardless of what the United States does. The troop surge will shift the violence to other locations or cause the combatants to go underground for a time, but will do nothing to resolve the reasons for the fighting. The ignorance, arrogance and incompetence of the American architects of the invasion and its aftermath have created the perfect storm of factors that made the current civil war possible and inevitable for years to come. The deepening of the sectarian divide, the struggle over who gets to steal the oil revenue and the proxy fight for influence being waged by other countries in the region all ensure that peace will not break out soon.
The war is lost
The politicians in Washington, whether they support the war or oppose it, do not want to end it at all costs, however. Those who pass legislation calling for a fixed timetable for withdrawing American troops do so secure in the knowledge that it will never be enacted. They would not pass a bill that would actually take effect because they are not about to remove the Iraqi albatross from around President Bush's neck and hang it around their own.
Those political leaders who say they support the war know it is lost, but cannot admit it. Their constituents cannot accept the idea of defeat. What has been won, how or why does not matter. In the Vince Lombardi school of international relations, winning is the only thing. So, for them, there is no accepting any outcome called defeat even though invading Iraq has not made us safer and debilitates us more every day. Instead they have to stay the course hoping something they can call victory will miraculously appear.
And so the conflict continues, but it doesn't have to, at least for the Americans. While Iraqis will fight and die for some time to come, the Americans can withdraw now.

There are some strong points in that excerpt. But I do think it needs to be noted that the US did fuel the conflict, did pit Shia against Sunni. They "will fight and die for some time to come," no question. But it shouldn't be accepted as though it 'just happened.' The US was very active in this, increasing the divisions.

"That Was an Antiwar Vote?" (Alexander Cockburn, Jeffrey St. Clair, CounterPunch):
Has the end of America's war on Iraq been brought closer by the recent vote in the House of Representatives? On March 23, the full House voted 218 to 212 to set a timeline on the withdrawal of US troops, with September 1, 2008, as the putative date after which war funding might be restricted to withdrawal purposes only. It's not exactly a stringent deadline. It only requires Bush to seek Congressional approval before extending the occupation and spending new funds to do so.
On Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi's website we find her portrait of what US troops will be doing in Iraq following this withdrawal or "redeployment," should it occur late next year on the bill's schedule. "US troops remaining in Iraq may only be used for diplomatic protection, counterterrorism operations and training of Iraqi Security Forces." But does this not bear an eerie resemblance to Bush's presurge war plan? Will the troops being redeployed out of Iraq even come home? No, says Pelosi, as does Senate Majority leader Harry Reid. These troops will go to Afghanistan to battle al Qaeda.
So the bill essentially adopts and enforces Bush's war plan and attendant "benchmarks" as spelled out in his January 10 speech. On March 27, the Senate voted 50-48 to start withdrawal in March 2008, said schedule being nonbinding on the President. At any rate, Bush has promised to veto all schedules for withdrawal coming out of Congress. Meanwhile the war goes on, with a supplemental, Democrat-approved $124 billion, more than Bush himself requested. As Congress considers the half trillion dollar FY 2008 Pentagon budget, there is no sign that the Democratic leadership will permit any serious attack on further war funding.
Thus when it comes to the actual war, which has led to the bloody disintegration of Iraqi society, the deaths of up to 5,000 Iraqis a month, the death and mutilation of US soldiers every day, nothing at all has happened since the Democrats rode to victory in November courtesy of popular revulsion in America against the war. Bush's reaction to this censure at the polls was to appoint a new commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, to oversee the troop surge in Baghdad and Anbar province. The Democrats voted unanimously to approve Petraeus and now they have okayed the money for the surge. Bush hinted that he would like to widen the war to Iran. Nancy Pelosi, chastened by catcalls at the annual AIPAC convention, swiftly abandoned all talk of compelling Bush to seek congressional authorization to make war on Iran.
Although nothing of any significance actually happened on March 23, to read liberal commentators one would think we'd witnessed some profound upheaval, courtesy of Nancy Pelosi's skillful uniting of the various Democratic factions. What she accomplished in practice was the neutering of the antiwar faction. In the end only eight Democrats (plus two Republicans) voted against the Supplemental Appropriation out of opposition to the war. The balance of 202 no votes came from Republicans who opposed Pelosi's bill as anti-Bush and antiwar. So, in Congress 420 representatives officially have no problem with the war in Iraq continuing until the eve of the next election. Ten are foursquare against it, which is more or less where Congress has always been, in terms of committed naysayers.

So, for those who are still holding out for some strange reason, determined to believe that Congress did something amazing or at least good, relinquish. Let go of the fantasy. This was an embarrassment for Congress and it was an embarrassment for those on the left (and those who pose left) who tried to talk it up as "it's the end of the war!" It's not the end. A lot people were (a) uninformed, (b) in denial or (c) flat out lying. Party Hacks were flat out lying. They were so determined to shout down other voices because of the fact that they didn't want the truth to get out. It's more important to them to lie for elections than it is to tell the truth about the measures that passed in both houses. That's how you get the laughable editorial from The Nation. They aren't interested in the war at that magazine as a whole (there are individual exceptions), they are interested in electing Democrats. If they were interested in the illegal war, they would cover it. They don't. They don't cover war resisters, they don't cover the peace movement, they don't cover Iraq. Issue after issue, it's all about the horse race campaign with a smidge of globe trotting tossed in -- oh look, Egyptian bloggers this week! They have no impact because they never follow through.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Mondy, April 2, 2007. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; Crazy John can't stop fluffing; while the House and Senate bills have yet to be reconciled, a new Senate bill is announced and appears to be more of the same (continuing the war),

Starting with war resistance.
Randy Richmond (London Free Press) reports on the United in Song, United in Peace event in Canada yesterday where US war resister Tim Richard sang (Richard self-checked out in 2005) and US war resister Dean Walcott spoke about his "two tours of Iraq" and his decision to self-check out in Decemeber. Walcott has applied for refugee status. Friday, US war resister Corey Glass appeared before the Canadian Immigration and Refugee board to plead his case. Unlike during the Vietnam era, no war resister has yet been granted refugee status. Today, 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. PST, Chris Cook's Gorilla Radio will feature War Resisters Support Campaign's Lee Zaslofsky discussing "treatment of a more sinister nature" such as the US military's harassment of Kyle Snyder via a supposedly Canadian police force.

Glass, Key, Snyder and Johnson are part of a movement of resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Darrell Anderson, Joshua Key, Ryan Johnson, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Resistance takes place outside the military and the
Grandmothers Against the War were interviewed by Janet Coleman today on WBAI's CAT RADIO CAFE about peace, the war and their arrest October 17, 2005 at Times Square Recruiting Center in NYC. They group described this activism in a 2005 statement as: "We are grandmothers heartbroken over the huge loss of life and limb in Iraq. We feel it is our patriotic duty to enlist in the United States military today in orders to replace our grandchildren who have been deployed there far too long and are anxious to come home now while they are still alive and whole. By this action, we are not supporting the use of military force in Iraq -- in fact, we are totally against it. But inasmuch as it exits, our goal in joining up is only to protect young people from further death and maiming." Call, call, call, was one point, and tell your legislatures to vote for peace by stopping funding of the illegal war. (AP's Mike Glover reports that Senator Barack Obama says if Bully Boy vetoes the proposed Congressional bill, "quickly" -- like whipped puppies -- Congress "will provide the money without the withdrawal timeline". Obama would stand if he wasn't on all fours.) The Congressional switchboard is (202) 224-3121.

US Senator Russ Feingold announces he's teamed up with the Majority Leader Harry Reid for a piece of legislation that, as described, is honestly disappointing coming from Feingold. The way it will be reported -- by KPFA and others -- is "The bill ends funding for the war"! The reality is the same escape clauses built into the House and Senate measures (House measure passed two weeks ago, Senate measure passed last week) that still need to be reconciled. As with those measures, the bill, as described, says, "War is over . . . except for" and these are the exceptions:

(d) Exception for Limited Purposes -- The prohibition under subsection (c) shall not apply to the obligation or expenditure of funds for the limited purposes as follows:

(1) To conduct targeted operations, limited in duration and scope, against members of al Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations.

(2) To provide security for United States infrastructure and personnel.

(3) To train and equip Iraqi securit services.

If it all seems familiar, we're back to the age-old issue, "Are you a soldier or are you an adviser?" As Robert Knight noted last Monday on
Flashpoints, "This would leave an equal or greater number of US troops in Iraq under the vague but permanent classifications of counter-insurgency, security and training for what New York Senator Hillary Clinton calls 'remaining vital national security interests in the heart of the oil region.' The rhetorical flourish of referring only to the withdrawal of combat troops recalls the tactic by which earlier administrations once referred to US soldiers in Vietnam as advisers rather than troops." (Those unable to utilize or benefit from the archived broadcast can click here for a text version -- with typos I'm sure.) Lisa Goddard (CNN) asserts this proposed bill, if passed, "would end the majority of Iraq war funding after March 31, 2008".

Staying with politics and Iraq, US House Rep and 2008 presidential candidate
Dennis Kucinich spoke to over 200 people in Olympia, Oregon. Brad Shannon (The Olympian) reports that Kucinich stated, "We have to remember that Democrats are expected to stand for peace, to balance the power of this administration, to stand for the truth, to stand for social justice, and to stand for a domestic agenda instead of a military build-up. . . . Congress should be using its power now to pull the plug on the war and to stop this war and to stop the bloodshed and take a new direction. And Congress has the power to do it."

Max Elbaum (LeftTurn) explores a history Congress would do well to remember:

The heartbreaking truth is that officials at the top level of the U.S. government KNEW they could not win in Vietnam (and WHY they couldn't win) even before the first bombing runs and deployments of U.S. ground troops. And they were right. Ten years later the Vietnam War ended exactly the way it would have in 1965 if Washington not massively intervened: U.S. troops fled the country under enemy fire, and Vietnam was reunified under the leadership of the communist revolutionaries who had been anchoring the fight for Vietnamese Independence for 50-plus years.
The cost between 1965 and 1975 was more than two million Vietnamese and 50,000 U.S. dead; uncounted wounded and innumerable lives ravaged on all sides, much of Vietnam poisoned by Agent Orange for two generations.
All this carnage because of U.S. leaders' calculations about the damage to empire if Washington was forced out of Vietnam, as well as fear of being politically destroyed at home by the charge of "losing Vietnam." It took a decade, but in the end the combination of Vietnamese tenacity, international isolation and protest, and antiwar resistance at home forced the guardians of empire to confront the fact that they would pay a bigger political price for staying than leaving. At a huge cost in lives and anguish, the U.S. was finally forced to withdraw.

In other US Congressional news,
Crazy John McCain took The John McCain Showboat Express to Baghdad yesterday where he again made like McCartney asserting Iraq was getting better all the time, a little better all the time, getting so much better . . . Kirk Semple (New York Times) reports things got "testy" in the Green Zone when Senator McCain took questions from reporters following a "stroll" in Baghdad accompanied by "a convoy of armored military vehicles and was accompanied by a large contingent of heavily armed soldiers. The politicians wore body armor while they shopped." [ Note, Friday's snapshot mentioned a report by Semple but left out the link -- it's "More Than 100 Are Killed in Iraq as a Wave of Sectarian Attacks Shows No Sign of Letting Up."]

Sudarsan Raghavan and Saad al-Izzi (Washington Post) note Senator Crazy's claim from last week that it was safe to walk some of the streets of Baghdad -- an assertion Crazy now though he was demonstrating as he and others "rode in armored Humvees protected by dozens of U.S. soldiers and wore bulletproof vets. Those without a military patrol/brigade escorting them, feel differently. Mussab Al-Khairalla (Reuters) reports that merchants from the Shorja market McCain briefly visited yesterday disagree with his assessment and notes Abu Ammar stating, "Who said there was security? I told him there were snipers who were really harming us. I told him the plan had improved security but Shorja still wasn't safe." Crazy John probably heard Ammar's voice but he hears so many voices these days.

Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) notes McCain's "media hype," but notes the increased airwar going on in Iraq (and the lack of coverage of it) reminding: "American news outlets will be inclined to depict the Iraq war as winding down when fewer Americans are dying in it. That happened during the last several years of the Vietnam War, while massive U.S. bombing -- and Vietnamese deaths -- continued unabated." Which is a good lead in for today's violence in Iraq . . .

AFP reports "eight Iraqi schoolgirls and a toddler" as well as 3 adults were killed in a Kirkuk bombing. BBC reports that 192 were wounded from the bombing which was on "a truck laden with explosives". Yahya Barzanji (AP) reports: "Video by an Associated Press cameraman showed at least four wounded U.S. soldiers and one badly damaged American Humvee. The soldiers were being treated by Army medics, with one seated while having guaze bandages wound around his bloodied head. Another soldier, whose nose was bleeding, was standing and waving directions to others. A third soldier was carried away on a stretcher and the fourth was being treated on the ground." AFP observes, "Many of the wounded were pupils at the nearby school and local residents, after the suicide bomber blew up the truck outside the criminal investigations department in the Kurdish district of Rahimawa" and they quote fifth grader Naz Omar who states, "We were at the last lesson and we heard the explosion. I saw two of my class mates sitting near the window. They fell on the floor drenched in blood. . . . They could not speak. I was terrified. I said God is Great. I need my mother. I need my father." Louisa McLennan (Times of London) quotes 13-year-old Sarah Samad stating, "The gate fell on my leg and broke it."

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that a bomb contained in a freezer killed 3 women in al-Khalis and left 23 people (6 were women) wounded. Reuters notes two bombings in Baghdad that killed a total of 4 people and left 14 wounded (one in the Doura neighborhood, one in Bayaa neighborhood). CBS and AP note a car bombing in western Baghdad that killed 3 people. CNN, which identifies the location of the bombing as "southeastern Baghdad," notes 3 dead and 10 wounded.

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Baghad (al-Ghadeer neighborhood), : "Before sunset, A motorists was killed by American check point which was near Um Al-Tibool mosque in Yarmouk neighborhood" and that the man was an off duty Iraqi soldier.


Al Jazeera notes that 19 corpses were discovered. These are the men who were kidnapped on Sunday. AFP reports that, "Medics say the Shiites' handcuffed and blindfolded bodies were found near a water treatment plant in Moraiyah village in Diyala after daybreak."

The UK Ministry of Defence announced that Danny John Wilson is the British soldier who died in Iraq Sunday "as a result of injuries sustained during a patrol in Basra City on 1 April 2007." They also announced "the death of a British soldier from 2nd Battalion The Rifles in Iraq earlier today, Monday 2 April 2007." The BBC notes that both men were "wounded on patrol in the same area" and that the two deaths bring the total number of British soldiers who have died in the illegal war to 136.

Turning to the cheap laugh of today, Bob Herbert (New York Times) half-writes a column and some on the left rush forward to say, "Yea, Gary Sinise!" Gary Sinise is a supporter of the Bully Boy, a defender of the abuses in Abu Ghraib, part of a front group. He is not a left hero, he's not even a good actor. For whatever reasons (intended or just not knowing what he was writing about), Herbert files a valentine to Sinise and some on the left rush forward to embrace the never-was-a-star.

Reality check.
On CBS' The Early Show November 8, 2005, Sinise tried to build a wave of Operation Happy Talk, "It's always about a bomb or a suicide bomber or somebody getting killed. And, of course, that's dramatic and all of that. But on a day-to-day basis, there's a lot of improvement. There's a lot of hope." That's the same sort of fluff (lies) that Laura Bush was slammed for giving out over CNN or John McCainn today. In Feburary of 2006, the Abu Ghraib defending Sinise argued, in a News Max interview, "But on the other hand, I would say -- where's the other side?" Yes, where is the other side to torture -- and, gosh darn it, why can't that be covered? Donald Rumsfeld may have introduced Sinise as a "superstar" when Sinise did his concert for the Pentagon in May of 2006, but he's barely a second-rung TV star (and never made it as a movie star). Bill O'Reilly may hail him as "a true patriot" (which he did at the start of last month) but the left doesn't usually rush to embrace O'Reilly's designated chosen . Sinise is a spokesperson for America Supports You. From SourceWatch:

America Supports You is a government-funded public relations program to generate support for the Bush Administration's [global war on terror] by organizing publicity and support for soldiers. Susan Davis International (SDI) is a Washington D.C.- based PR company funded to work on American Supports You.
In December 2004, O'Dwyers PR Daily reported that SDI "is handling the Pentagon's 'America Supports You' campaign to drum up support for the nearly 150,000 U.S. forces that may be occupying Iraq during the next four years." "America Supports You," a Defense Department campaign, was originally planned to run through May 2005 but as of July 2006 is ongoing.
On December 3, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld presented an "America Supports You" dog tag to Bill O'Reilly on his Fox News show, calling O'Reilly "a terrific supporter of our troops." President Bush also plugged the "America Supports You" campaign during an address to Marines and their families at Camp Pendleton, California.

That's the reality of the idiot who's getting praised: Gary Sinise, the Little Miss Connie Francis of this decade.

Finally, in
a speech broadcast today on Democracy Now!, Naomi Klein address the various layers involved in the continued war on and occupation of Iraq:

What's so extraordinary about what has happened in Iraq -- and Amy mentioned the "
Baghdad Year Zero" article -- is that you really have all of these layers of colonialism and neocolonialism, this quest for privatization, forming a kind of a perfect storm in that country. On the one hand, you have sort of old-school colonial pillage, which is, let's go for the oil. And as many of you know, Iraq has a new oil law. It's passed through cabinet, hasn't yet passed through parliament. But, really, it legalizes pillage. It legalizes pillage. It legalizes the extraction of 100% of the profits from Iraq's oil industry, which is precisely the conditions that created the wave of Arab nationalism and the reclaiming of the resources in the 1950s through the '70s. So it's an undoing of that process and a straight-up resource grab, old-school colonialism.
Layered on top of that, you have sort of colonialism 2.1, which is what I was researching when I was in Iraq, which is the looting of the Iraqi state, what was built up under the banner of Arab nationalism, the industry, the factories. The kind of rapid-fire, shock therapy-style strip-mining privatization that we saw in the former Soviet Union in the '90s, that was the idea, that was Plan A for Iraq, that the US would just go in there with Blackwater guarding Paul Bremer and would sell off all of Iraq's industries. So you had the old-school colonial, then you had the new school.
And then you had the post-modern privatization, which was the idea that the US military was actually going to war, the US Army was going to war, to loot itself, which is a post-modern kind of innovation, right? If we remember, Thomas Friedman told us less than a decade ago that no two countries with a McDonald's have ever gone to war. Now, we go to war with McDonald's, Taco Bell, Burger King, in tow. And so, the process of waging war is a form of self-pillage. Not only is Iraq being pillaged, but the United States coffers of this government are being pillaged. So we have these three elements, all converging this perfect storm over this country.
And one of the things that I think is most important for progressives to challenge is the discourse that everything in Iraq is a disaster. I think we need to start asking and insisting, disaster for who, because not everybody is losing. It's certainly a disaster for the Iraqi people. It's certainly a disaster for US taxpayers. But what we have seen -- and it's extremely clear if we track the numbers -- is that the worse things get in Iraq, the more privatized this war becomes, the more profitable this war becomes for companies like Lockheed Martin, Bechtel, and certainly Blackwater. There is a steady mission creep in Iraq, where the more countries pull out, the more contractors move in, which Jeremy has documented so well and will talk more about.
The danger. These are the stakes that I think we need to understand. And I really do want to keep this brief, so that we have a fruitful discussion afterwards. What are the stakes here? The stakes could not be higher. What we are losing is the incentive, the economic incentive, for peace, the economic incentive for stability. When you can create such a booming economy around war and disaster, around destruction and reconstruction, over and over and over again, what is your peace incentive?
There was a phrase that came out of the Davos conference this year. Every year, there's always a big idea to emerge from the World Economic Summit in Davos. This year, the big idea was the Davos dilemma. Now, what is the Davos dilemma? The Davos dilemma is this: for decades, it's been conventional wisdom that generalized mayhem was a drain on the global economy, that you could have an individual shock or a crisis or a war that could be exploited for privatization, but on the whole -- and this was the Thomas Friedman thesis -- there needed to be stability in order to have steady economic growth; the Davos dilemma is that it's no longer true. You can have generalized mayhem, you can have wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, threats of nuclear war with Iran, a worsening of the Israeli occupation, a deepening of violence against Palestinians, you can have a terror in the face of global warming, you could have increased blowback from resource wars, you can have soaring oil prices, but, lo and behold, the stock market just goes up and up and up.
In fact, there's an index called the Guns-to-Caviar index, which for seventeen years has been measuring an inverse relationship between the sale of fighter jets and executive luxury jets. And for seventeen years, this index, the Guns-to-Caviar index -- the guns are the fighter jets, the caviar are the executive jets -- has found that when fighter jets go up, executive jets go down. When executive jets go up, fighter jets go down. But all of a sudden, they're both going up, which means that there's a lot of guns being sold, enough guns to buy a hell of a lot of caviar. And Blackwater is, of course, at the center of this economy.
The only way to combat an economy that has eliminated the peace incentive, of course, is to take away their opportunities for growth. And their opportunities for growth are ongoing climate instability and ongoing geopolitical instability. Their threats -- the only thing that can challenge their economy is relative geopolitical and climatic peace and stability, so I suppose we have our work cut out for us to fight the war profiteers.