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War by Other Means
has broken out again as the US-led invasion of Iraq gives way to military occupation. While the US was trying to get support from European powers on the UN Security Council for the invasion of Iraq it deferred confronting those powers in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over the issue of the European Union’s moratorium on importing new and unlabelled GE foods. The decision to do this was taken right to the top — the American National Security Council — and a trade official said that while the US was testing Europe on Iraq, it would not be testing it on GE. Now the gloves are off, and while Iraq is still months if not years away from a democratic government let alone a stable and secure society, the US is filing suit at the WTO — with New Zealand as a third party.
On 13 May the Green Euro MP Caroline Lucas said that by trying to use the WTO to force GM foods on Europeans, the US was launching the mother of all trade wars — one which threatened to destroy the WTO itself.
On 14 May Jeanette Fitzsimons asked why the NZ Government was being party to an attempt to force the people of Europe to eat food and grow crops that they have overwhelmingly rejected. Jeanette sees this as undermining the excellent work the Government has done in building relationships with Europe. New Zealand and Europe are natural allies, Jeanette said ”…linked by a mutual interest in the rule of international law, a multilateral approach to foreign affairs, commitment to the Kyoto Protocol and dedication to higher environmental standards.” All very unlike America under the Bush administration. Read
Independent Iraq Online
– The first independent media outlet in Iraq/Baghdad is now up on line, with the first issue of
. This is the first move to break the news embargo. Produced mainly by students on the ground in Iraq — please extend your support.
[Note: We discovered on checking this address before sending JustPeace that the website is now unobtainable. We have included it hoping that it will be back up shortly, but can’t guarantee accessibility].
Phillipines Solidarity Network Of Aotearoa Online.
PSNA now has a website up
Thus far it contains basic information about PSNA and the online edition of the latest Kapatiran (Solidarity) January 2003, which has plenty of good reading in it. Other features to be added include links to a number of Philippine progressive movement Websites. A fantastic information resource on what’s happening in the Philippines and its connections to local and global issues of concern. Keep checking it regularly to see what’s new.
Auckland, Sunday, 18 May, 1:30 P.M., St Matthews In The City Human Rights Benefit Concert: Artists for Amnesty International
, featuring Jackie Clarke, Miranda Adams, Jonathan Besser; with Ensemble Philharmonia, Vivo, Bravura, Tango Tiempo Dancers & more! Tickets $30 / $20, children under 12 free. Tickets from Ticketek or at the church door from 12-30pm, all proceeds to Amnesty International. For more information contact email
john [dot] shaw
amnesty [dot] org [dot] nz
will go on killing civilians in Iraq and military personnel in the US-led forces that invaded Iraq for decades to come. More facts about what actually happened in the invasion are starting to emerge. The following May 11 press release from Rob Green of the Security and Disarmament Centre summarises the current state of knowledge. Background papers on DU are available from Rob at
chch [dot] planet [dot] org [dot] nz
”US Colonel Whistleblows on Depleted Uranium Use in Iraq
A US Special Operations Command Colonel has admitted that US and UK forces used over 500 tons of Depleted Uranium (DU) munitions in Iraq, including in Baghdad, and that the Pentagon has known for years that DU is hazardous to health.
In a briefing to the National Peace Workshops 2003 in the University of Canterbury, Christchurch yesterday, ex-British Navy Commander Robert Green reported on interviews by a US journalist with the US Army officer, whose identity has been suppressed for obvious reasons. This is a vital breakthrough in the outrageous cover-up concerning use of DU, which has serious implications for the health of New Zealand bomb disposal experts who are about to go to Iraq.
Cdr Green said: “The Colonel was clearly sufficiently troubled to have decided to whistleblow. As a key targeting officer who chose which munitions should be used, he is the most authoritative source so far. He confirmed that:
- At least 500 tons of DU munitions were used by US and UK forces
No attempt was made to avoid DU use in cities, and over 100 tons
were used in Baghdad
- DU is a key material in the GBU-28 BLU 113B 5,000lb bunker-buster guided bomb, many of which were targeted on command bunkers in Baghdad, and probably in the failed assassination attempt on Saddam Hussein at a restaurant
- Over 20,000 Iraqi armoured vehicles were completely destroyed with DU
- Buildings were hit with DU in Baghdad and other cities, using 25mm and 30mm machine gun ammunition as well as 125mm tank shells
- There are huge health risks with DU which the Pentagon has known for years from monitoring US test ranges
- No protection is practicable for troops, so the problem has been suppressed
- Parts of southern Iraq were designated as DU contaminated before any troops invaded, left over from the 1991 Gulf War
- One test range in Saudi Arabia shows over 1,000 times the normal background radiation level.”
After the Bombs — Bechtel Makes a Killing.
The war on Iraq has not increased global security one iota — but it has opened some lucrative opportunities for transnational companies with links to the Bush administration. One of the most infamous of these companies is Bechtel. In these excerpts from an article in Z Magazine Vandana Shiva spells out how water as well as oil is a valuable spoil of war for US corporations.
”Bechtel And Blood For Water
Within a month of the start of the war against Iraq, the real victor is emerging. Bechtel has got a $680 million contract for “rebuilding” Iraq. The U.S. led war first bombed out Iraq’s hospitals, bridges, water works, and now U.S. corporations are harvesting profits from “reconstructing” a society after its deliberate destruction. Blood was not just shed for oil, but also for control over water and other vital services. In a period of declining economic growth and a slowing down of the globalization juggernaut, war has become a convenient excuse for enlarging corporate rule.
If W.T.O. is not enough, use war.
This seems to be the underlying economic and political philosophy of the neo-conservatives ruling the U.S. and trying to rule the world. What the past month has revealed is the total and rotten corruption on which the new world order is based. As Bob Herbert states in ”
Ask Bechtel what war is good for
International Herald Tribune
, April 22, 2003 p6)
“Somewhere George Shultz is smiling…
“Shultz, whose photo could appropriately appear next to any definition of the military-industrial complex, was secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan and has been a perennial heavyweight with the powerful Bechtel Group of San Francisco, where he previously reigned as president and is now a board member and senior counselor. “Unlike the anti-war soul singer Edwin Starr – who, in an ironic bit of timing, went to his eternal reward this month just as U.S. ground forces were sweeping toward Baghdad – Shultz knows what war is good for. And he wanted this war with Iraq. Oh, how he wanted this war. Shultz was chairman of the fiercely pro-war Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which was committed to moving beyond the political liberation of the oil-rich country to the conveniently profitable `reconstruction of its economy.’
“Under the headline `
Act Now; The Danger Is Immediate
,’ Shultz, in an op-ed article in
The Washington Post
last September, wrote: `A strong foundation exists for immediate military action against Hussein and for a multilateral effort to rebuild Iraq after he is gone.’ “Gee, I wonder which company he thought might lead that effort.
“Last week Shultz’s Bechtel Group was able to demonstrate exactly what wars are good for. The Bush administration gave it the first big Iraqi reconstruction contract, a prized $680 million deal over 18 months that puts Bechtel in the driver’s seat for the long-term reconstruction of the country, which could cost $100 billion or more. “Bechtel essentially was given a license to make money. And that license was granted in a closed-door process that was restricted to a handful of politically connected U.S. companies. “Saddam’s dictatorship is being replaced by U.S. corporate dictatorship — with little distinction left between those who sit in board rooms and those who sit in White House, Pentagon and other institutions of government.” …..
….. Bechtel in Bolivia
The most famous tale of Bechtel’s corporate greed over water is the story of Cochabamba, Bolivia. In the semi-desert region, water is scarce and precious. In 1999, the World Bank recommended privatisation of Cochabamba’s municipal water supply company (SEMAPA) through a concession to International water, a subsidiary of Bechtel. On October 1999, the Drinking Water and Sanitation Law was passed, ending government subsidies and allowing privatization. In a city where the minimum wage is less than $100 a month water bills reached $20 a month, nearly the cost of feeding a family of five for two weeks. In January 2000, a citizen’s alliance called “La Coordinara” de Defense del Aqua y de la Vida (The Coalition in Defense of Water and Life) was formed and it shut down the city for four days through mass mobilisation. Between January and February 2000, millions of Bolivians marched to Cochabamba, had a general strike and stopped all transportation.
The government promised to reverse the price hike but never did. In February 2000, La Coordinara organised a peaceful march demanding the repeal of the Drinking Water and Sanitation Law, the annulment of ordinances allowing privatization, the termination of the water contract, and the participation of citizens in drafting a water resource law. The citizens’ demands, which drove a stake at corporate interests, were violently repressed. Coordinora’s fundamental critique was directed at the negation of water as a community property. Protesters used slogans like “Water is God’s gift and not a merchandise” and “Water is life”.
In April, 2000 the government tried to silence the water protests through market law. Activists were arrested, protestors were killed, and media was censored. Finally on April 10, 2000, the people won. Aquas del Tunari and Bechtel left Bolivia. The government was forced to revoke its hated water privatisation legislation. The water company Servico Municipal del Aqua Potable y Alcantarillado (SEMAPO) was handed over to the workers and the people, along with the debts. In summer 2000, La Coordinadora organised public hearings to establish democratic planning and management. The people have taken on the challenge to establish a water democracy, but the water dictators are trying their best to subvert the process. Bechtel is suing Bolivians and the Bolivian government, is harassing and threatening activists of La Coordinadora.
If we go by the lessons from Bolivia, Bechtel will try and control the water resources, not just the water works of Iraq. If the international community and the Iraqis are not vigilant, Bechtel could try and own the Tigris and Eupharates, as it tried to “own” the wells of Bolivia.
Bechtel and India
Bechtel Enterprises, a privately held firm, is the world’s largest construction company, having been involved heavily in the U.S.’s construction boom in the post WWII period. They are responsible for over 19,000 projects in 140 countries, with operations on all continents (save Antarctica). Bechtel is involved in over 200 water and wastewater treatment plants around the world, in large part through its subsidiaries and joint ventures such as International Water (which is partnership of Bechtel, Edison of Italy, and United Utilities in the UK).
In India Bechtel was involved in the Dabhol plant with Enron, and is now involved in water privatisation of Coimbatore/Tirrupur as part of a consortium with Mahindra and Mahindra, United International North West Water. As with other water privatisation contracts, the contract has not been made public. Business that can only be carried out behind closed doors, under secrecy, does not promote freedom. It extinguishes both freedom and democracy….”
JustPeace is produced by Christine Dann, Tim Hannah and Keith Locke, MP
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