Klein-Disaster Capitalism-Harpers 2007

That is hardly a surprise when countries are rebuilt

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Unformatted text preview: ot;al Qaeda for the good guys" by its right-wing admirers. It's a striking analogy. Wherever the disaster-capitalism complex has landed, it has produced a proliferation of armed groups that operate outside the state. That is hardly a surprise: when countries are rebuilt by people who don't believe in governments, the states they build are invariably weak, creating a market for alternative security forces, whether Hezbollah, Blackwater, the Mahdi Army, or the gang down the street in New Orleans. he reach of the disaster industry extends far beyond policing. When the contractor infrastructure built up during the Bush years is looked at as a whole, what we see is a fully articulated state-within-a-state that is as muscular and capable as the actual state is frail and feeble. This corporate shadow-state has been built almost exclusively with public resources, including the training of its staff: 90 percent of Blackwater's revenues come from state contracts, and the majority of its employees are former politicians, soldiers, and civil servants. Yet the vast infrastructure is all privately owned and controlled. The citizens who funded it have absolutely no claim to this parallel economy or its resources. 2 One of the most alarming aspects of this industry is how unabashedly partisan it is. Blackwater, for instance, is closely aligned with the anti-abortion movement and other right-wing causes. It donates almost exclusively to the Republican Party, rather than hedging its bets like most big corporations. Halliburton sends 93 percent of its campaign contributions to Republicans; Fluor, 78 percent. Is it far-fetched to imagine a day when political parties will hire these companies to spy on their rivals during an election campaign--or to engage in covert operations too shady even for the CIA? THE VAST INFRASTRUCTURE OF THE DISASTER INDUSTRY, BUILT UP WITH TAXPAYERS' MONEY, IS ALL PRIVATELY CONTROLLED T ESSAY 51 THE COMPANIES AT THE HEART OF THE DISASTER COMPLEX INCREASINGLY SEE THE STATE AND NONPROFITS AS COMPETITORS The actual state, meanwhile, has lost the ability to perform its core functions without the help of contractors. Its own equipment is out of date, and the best experts have fled to the private sector. When Katrina hit, FEMA had to hire a contractor to award contracts to contractors. Similarly, when it came time to update the Army manual on the rules for dealing with contractors, the Army outsourced the job to one of its major contractors, MPRI, because it no longer had the in-house expertise. The CIA has lost so many staffers to the privatized spy sector that it has had to bar contractors from recruiting in the agency dining room. "One recently retired case officer said he had been approached twice while in line for coffee," reported the Los Angeles Times. And when the Department of Homeland Security decided it needed to build "virtual fences" on the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada, Michael P. Jackson, deputy secretary of the department, told contractors, "This is an unusual invitation .... We're asking yo...
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