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Power corrupts.. September 5, 2007

Posted by Peter Hornby in currentaffairs.
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Four and a half years ago, Daniel Drezner, following a few wasted minutes reading a “..long, dull and witless ramble” from Thomas Friedman concerning the introduction of “democracy” to Iraq, suggested the following competition:

Can anyone..give me one single example of something with the following three characteristics:

  1. It is a policy initiative of the current Bush administration
  2. It was significant enough in scale that I’d have heard of it (at a pinch, that I should have heard of it)
  3. It wasn’t in some important way completely fucked up during the execution.

Four and a half years on, it seems to me that Daniel Drezner is in no danger of losing his money.

The story which prompted me to search for this quote is from Deborah Hastings, of the Associated Press.  The story was published on Forbes.com on August 24, and concerns the sanctions, official and unofficial, which have been applied to people who’ve attempted to expose the corruption which seems to be endemic in the work going on to rebuild Iraq.  Donald Vance, an ex-Navy veteran working for a private security company, attempted to tell the FBI about sales of arms – guns, land-mines, rocket-launchers – to anyone, and I mean anyone, with the cash to pay for them.  For his pains, Vance spent three months under interrogation in a security compound outside Baghdad.

Hastings has other stories along the same lines.  It’s pretty obvious that whistleblowing on the immoral, not to say illegal, activities of the current administration’s corporate friends is not a good career move.   I don’t think anyone’s under any illusions about the extent to which the Iraq rebuilding effort has turned into a bonanza for the multi-national corporations who have cornered this market.  It comes as a shock, though, to realize the chilling extent to which the Washington power structures are prepared to take the side of greed, mendacity and corruption and to use their power to silence the people who want the truth to come out.

Thanks to the Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait, for blogging this