On the Forgotten Profiteers of a Forgotten Iraq War

Pratap Chatterjee‘s new TomDispatch essay (5/31/09) explores how Dick Cheney’s mercenary corporation Halliburton recently has managed to largely “Stay Out of Sight While Profiting From the War in Iraq” despite what Tom Engelhardt’s introduction calls “hatfuls of charges against the company for a laundry list of alleged misdeeds“:

There were no protesters outside the [annual Halliburton shareholders] meeting this year, nor the kind of national media stakeouts commonplace when [CEO David] Lesar addressed the same crew at the posh Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Houston in May 2004. Then, dozens of mounted police faced off against 300 protesters in the streets outside, while a San Francisco group that dubbed itself the Ronald Reagan Home for the Criminally Insane fielded activists in Bush and Cheney masks, offering fake $100 bills to passersby in a mock protest against war profiteering. And don’t forget the 25-foot inflatable pig there to mock shareholders. Local TV crews swarmed, a national crew from NBC flew in from New York, and reporters from the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal eagerly scribbled notes.

Now the 25-foot pigs are gone and all is quiet on the western front. How did Halliburton, once branded the ugly stepchild of Dick Cheney–the company’s former CEO–and a poster child of war profiteering, receive such absolution from anti-war activists and the media?

Naming “a general apathy towards the ongoing but lower-level war in Iraq” as just “part of the answer,” Chatterjee urges readers to not, as U.S. media have, “ignore a potentially brilliant financial sleight of hand by Halliburton either. That move played a crucial role in the cleansing of the company.” Listen to the FAIR radio show CounterSpin: “Jason Leopold on Halliburton” (9/3/04).