Business Opportunities Brighten in Fallujah

Reconstruction and body-removal firms poised for growth

The Pentagon, respecting one of Islam's holiest traditions, is helping Muslims observe the last days of the annual Ramadan fast by refusing to allow aid agencies to distribute food and water to starving and thirsty residents of Fallujah.

Who says we're not there to help?

Meanwhile, the contingent of 15,000 U.S. troops has just about finished reducing the Sunni stronghold to rubble in preparation for the awarding of contracts for reconstruction. In another milestone, the Pentagon has entered its 21st consecutive month of not releasing estimates of the number of civilians killed in Iraq by U.S. soldiers.

To supplement your knowledge of what's going on in Fallujah and elsewhere with info that may not have penetrated the U.S. media, take a look at this morning's BBC story "U.S. Marines Pound Fallujah Rebels." Here are some nuggets:

• Outside the U.S. base in central Fallujah, bodies lie in the streets, being gnawed at by dogs and cats.

• The Iraqi Red Crescent—one of the few aid agencies operating in Iraq—says it is still negotiating with the Americans after being denied access to the city. It said there was a desperate need for food, clean water and medical supplies, as hundreds of civilians were still hiding in their houses, without drinking water and running low on food.

• The Americans have said they can take care of Fallujah's humanitarian needs themselves.

• Military civil affairs teams are poised to begin giving out millions of dollars in compensation.

Another BBC story, "New Attacks on Mosul Police Posts," tells of the spreading war against the occupation in northern Iraq:

Scores of police officers were reported to have defected by taking off their uniforms and joining the insurgents.

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Hey, you Iraqis, don't you start messing with Mosul. There's a lot of oil in that part of Iraq. Fallujah doesn't have oil; we can level it. Mosul? We won't tolerate any destruction there. Of course, if there is, we'll just have a lot more reconstruction for American firms to do there as well.

This is how we spread democracy, y'all. We roll like that.

It's like what Dick Cheney told an audience at the Cato Institute in 1998, when he was the CEO of Halliburton. Speaking on "Defending Liberty in a Global Economy," at the Collateral Damage Conference (you can't make this shit up), Cheney said:

I think it is a false dichotomy to be told that we have to choose between "commercial" interests and other interests that the United States might have in a particular country or region around the world. Oftentimes the absolute best way to advance human rights and the cause of freedom or the development of democratic institutions is through the active involvement of American businesses. Investment and trade can oftentimes do more to open up a society and to create opportunity for a society's citizens than reams of diplomatic cables from our State Department.

I think it's important for us to look on U.S. businesses as a valuable national asset, not just as an activity we tolerate, or a practice that we do not want to get too close to because it involves money. Far better for us to understand that the drive of American firms to be involved in and shape and direct the global economy is a strategic asset that serves the national interest of the United States.

It's not personal, Sunnis. It's strictly business.

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