It looks like President Flip Flop has had his Quaker Oats this morning. Forget the adamant proclamations, over the past few days, that he will "stay the course" in Iraq, the Associated Press now reports that plans are in the works to beef up the number of troops, currently at 144,000, in the occupied land, as well as set a somewhat amorphous "timeline" for the Shiite-led government to take control. The announcement was made, at "a rare news conference," given by General Casey, only hours ago. (AP) Casey says that the additional U.S. forces, from inside and outside Iraq, will be used to "improve basic services for the population." Oh, yes, and we all know just how much the presence of American, and "coalition" forces has "improved" services in Baghdad, as well as throughout Iraq, since Saddam was ousted, and the country occupied. The news comes less than 24 hours after Tony Snow announced that the president has decided not to change, mind you, but to "adjust" its current strategy with regard to ending the war.
Reportedly, while the news conference gave "no specifics" (AP) about the timeline U.S. officials just announced, there was news that there is now a general timeframe for the Iraqis to take over their country's military operation. Specifics, and logistics, were also notably absent with respect to how the Shiite-led government is to achieve their objectives in time for the American and coalition forces to go home. That said, Casey insists that the Iraqi military will be "completely capable" of taking control of the country in less than 2 years, but that "some level of support" from American forces will be needed for at least another 18 months after that. (AP)
Hmmmmm.... you think this decision may have something to do with the fact that, while Ford Motor Company posted a whopping $5.8 billion third quarter loss in sales, major defense contractors like United Technologies boast of a muscular, indeed bionic third quarter profit? Another wartime president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, once said: "I don't want to see a single war millionaire created in the United States as a result of this world disaster." Oh, FDR would not be a happy camper now were he to find out about how many billionaires the so-called "War on Terror" has produced, to date, many of whom we never hear about. While we know about the Ken Lays, and Jeffrey Skillings, we don't hear about Halliburton CEO, David Lesar, who was paid $26.6 million last year alone despite the ongoing scandals about his company's contracts in Iraq. Moreover, Lesar earned nearly $50 million since 9/11.
The mainstream media is conspicuously quiet, too, about the facts and figures behind who is making the most money out of this president's "War on Terror." According to a major study by the groups United for a Fair Economy, and the Institute for Policy Studies, the highest paid defense executive is United Technologies' Chief Executive Officer George David, who earned nearly $88 million last year. DHB Industries, hugely lucrative bulletproof vest maker, founder and chief executive, David H. Brooks, received $70 million in salary alone last year. Also, in 2005, defense contractor chief executive officer pay was 44 times that of a military general with 20 years of experience, and 308 times that of an army private. Missing in action, too, are reports that, since 9/11, the top 34 defense contractors in Iraq are earning twice what they earned during the pre-9/11 period of 1998-2001. What's more, over the past 5 years, the top 34 defense CEOs, in the study sample group, pocketed $984 million, enough to support more than a million Iraqis for an entire year.
Some may think that the sudden change of heart, by the commander-in-chief, is evidence of a newfound propensity for flip flopping about "staying the course" in Iraq, and anywhere else on the globe that he can exploit for monetary gain in the name of exporting democracy. Others, however, view it differently, and think the sudden decision to come up with a "timeline," however ambigious, is mostly about "luring the Sunni establishment away from the violence and into the political process." (AP) Still, in light of the $984 million dollars pocketed by CEOs of defense contracting firms, there can be little doubt that any talk of "timelines" for withdrawal is nothing more than a transparent smokescreen, and attempt to pull the wool over Iraqi and American eyes only 2 weeks before an important midterm election in which, if an investigation into this war is justifiably ordered, we may well see more CEO defense contractors who, like Skilling and Lay, get caught with their hands in the proverbial cookie jar.
So, before he sits down to another game of Monopoly, or gets back in the saddle and goes home to his ranch in Texas, in 2008, you can bet your bottom beeper that this president will see to it that his pals Dick, and Donald don't have to worry about social security either. You can also bet, judging by the obscene profits of defense contractors in Iraq, and their grossly overpaid chief executives, if General Casey's estimates of how long our troops must remain, in Iraq, to finish up the job are conservative, as they most likely are, the likes of Halliburton and United Technologies will figure out a way to hang around Baghdad for as long as possible, and well into the second term of any new president.