Covers much more than just the Bush agenda, going back to the first influence of the Neo-cons with the Carter doctrine drawn up by Paul Wolfowitz. Covers all the usual territory about PNAC (Plan for a New American Century) and how that group first expressed themselves by asking Clinton to go to war with Iraq. Much of this story I already knew; what was illuminating were the details and background on the four companies that are major war profiteers and supporters of Bush's global agenda, namely Halliburton, Chevron, Bechtel and Lockheed Martin. Except for Haliburton, the other three are based in Northern California making it a local story for me. I was particularly illuminated by the history of Bechtel and how George Schultz angled to overthrow US policies that would help his company gain business access to the whole world to build nuclear power plants, thus kicking off the global proliferation of nuclear arms.
My father worked for the defense industry (as an engineer) so reading about Lockheed Martin recalled the work he did and the eagerness with which he wanted us to go to the Persian Gulf war so he could field test the heads-up pilot's helmet for which he was able to patent some solution of his that was crucial to making it work. That I was a peace activist did amuse him so especially because he was so confident that war was inevitable.
The author lays out the history of the oil industry both in Northern California and Iraq. Know the history of oil and everything falls into place including who has power in American politics and why we support repressive regimes in the Middle East. She also gives a nice run down of the destructive policies of the World Bank and the "structural adjustment policies" of the IMF that have been the undoing of national economies world wide.
Most fascinating was the story of how the Bush agenda proceeded to erase all of Iraq's existing laws that they didn't like in order to dismantle the socialist infrastructure and force the country to favor the services of multi-national corporations. Changing a countries laws is illegal per the Geneva convention and why everything is such a mess, but no pundit is really going to discuss it in a big picture way because it means discussing how the socialistic government ran things much better for the populace while capitalism is all about looting multi-nationals. We do know bits and pieces like how the Bush agenda fired key workers who were running the country, but I don't remember anyone saying they were replaced with Haliburton and Bechtel scabs from Pakistan. They also fired the Iraqi soldiers and apparently let them go home fully armed. So here we have key people out of work supported by an armed contingent while their foreign replacements are making an expensive mess of the reconstruction, doing things the American way when all the existing fittings and hardware were from France or the Soviet Union. Who would support this nightmare?
I heard a speaker on Iraq talk about how the Iraqis have a saying about the American reconstruction. "To heal the wound you must first pull out the knife."
And despite this story being called the Bush Agenda, it is not a new one. Under Clinton, the economy of Yugoslavia was similarly invaded for the purpose of replacing nationally controlled infrastructure with private enterprise. But she doesn't mention that. I read it in To Kill A Nation. What is new is the extent to which the Bush administration has taken this strategy especially by forcing the signing of "free trade" policies that would make the WTO cream its pants, not only with Iraq but with other middle eastern countries thus forming MEFTA.
It becomes clear through the details, Antonia Juhasz gives, that this is not a war, but a military takeover by American corporations. Particularly telling were the provisions put into place to rewrite Iraqi textbooks. Gives new meaning to the phrase "history is written by the victors". Reading this book convinced me that we should not even say the words "war in Iraq" because that is essentially a euphemism implying that we are defending ourselves from aggressive violent outsiders while protecting innocents. From now on I'm going to call it the American occupation of Iraq, make that the illegal American occupation of Iraq.
This is one of the few non-fiction books I've read whose author is a woman. I'm glad to see that a woman will tackle economics as a world organizing principle. I was beginning to fear that, while women excelled in discussing psychology and social justice, they were resistant when it comes to the importance of economic health. The last woman I read who tackled this territory was Frances Moore Lappe of "Food For A Small Planet" fame. Her book Food First was my first glimpse into the continuation of colonialism through corporate globalization.