Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers (2006)

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Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers (2006) Poster

Robert Greenwald looks at war profiteering in Iraq by private contracting companies Halliburton, CACI, and KBR.

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Robert Greenwald

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27 October 2007 | DeeNine-2
| Actually it's America for sale and it's a no-bid contract
The war dribbles on, hundreds of billions of dollars dumped into the Iraqi sand, over a hundred thousand people dead, millions made homeless, Halliburton stock triples, Bush has his hair styled, Cheney shoots caged birds thrown from the bed of a pickup truck, heroically I guess or ain't it fun to watch the bird bodies splatter? Meanwhile, somebody somewhere has that "Mission Accomplished" banner. It should go for some serious bucks on Ebay someday. Karl Rove is writing his memoirs: "There's a new reality, the reality of power. Power makes its own reality. (And I--I!--was at the pinnacle: indeed I was the Power and the Glory. Myself. Me.)" Rumsfeld ditto. But Rummy writes of "shock and awe" and how the generals in the field bungled his best laid plans. And soon George W. himself will be writing his memoirs. The advance will be several million. The lies will probably not exceed that number.

Of course there is no way that I at my computer can find the words to really make clear the stupefying waste and the horrific immorality of what the Bush administration has done in the name that was once America. Robert Greenwald's documentary does it better, much better by focusing on the profiteering by KBR, Halliburton, Blackwater et al. He uses the camera to show the images of human carnage, of the weighty mass of trucks and equipment, of Bush administration officials lying through their teeth on TV, of Bush himself strutting, waving, smiling. There are graphs of profits going up, up, up, street level shots of the stately office buildings of the profiteering companies, silver and glass, sunlight on well-tended lawns. Condi and Rummy, and Dick and Bush lying, lying, and lying some more. And for what? Cheney will be dead soon himself. Bush will be bored (perhaps to drink), their ill-gotten millions of no value to their dying souls.

I liked the way Greenwald predicted the Blackwater scandal, more or less with his focus. (You should check it out.) All those macho guys with their military pensions in their back pockets finding Soldier of Fortune jobs at Blackwater, toting their guns, shooting the enemy in self-defense, making an additional six figures a year. Pallets of hundred dollar bills forklifted off of military transport planes...

Well, Greenwald didn't get THAT shot (too bad), but he did show EMPTY trucks, a convoy, on an Iraqi highway (paid for as LOADED according to the contract). The contract of America with Halliburton. Halliburton with America. What's good for Halliburton is good for America. He shows the hundred dollar a meal meals contracted for those inside the Green Zone. It's surreal and then some. We airlift the PX, the movie theaters, the gym equipment, the computers, the TVs, the Pepsi Cola--well, actually Halliburton was able to substitute some local Iraqi cola at a fraction of the cost. We create a virtual reality army base inside Bagdad where our forces can hang out in safety. Who gains? Those doing the transporting.

More than any war in history, this documentary shows the influence of privatization. With no-bid contracts, of course. Bush hates big government. The way to reduce government is to make it go broke. How do you do that? You create a useless war and sell the contracts to your buds at inflated prices. It's amazing but this is what has happened. And Greenwald documents it.

Problem is, this fine documentary will be lost in the vast sea of information that we ourselves are lost in. Hide in plain site is what the profiteers have been able to do. Your stock triples, it's reported on the five o'clock news and in the pages of the New York Times ("our paper, man") but who can see it amid the myriad details of other stock prices or of the endless parade of other numbers, and words, words, words. A billion dollars lost here and there. Pentagon accountants clueless. Just another story on CNN, spun out of sight by Fox News.

You can watch this without the sound. The images tell the story.

This is another fine piece of work by Greenwald. He also directed Uncovered: The Whole Truth about the Iraq War (2003) and Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism (2004). He does a great job with the visuals, the interviews, and the narrative.

I have one tiny criticism. No captions. No English subtitles. Every film and documentary on DVD should have subtitles. That way we can be sure of the exact phrasing of the lies.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)

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Documentary | War

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