Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Democracy, some have observed, is incompatable with large corporate interests.
In Grenoble large demonstrations have continued to take place regularly over the past several days, with 1000s of men, women and children protesting US imperialist policies in the streets.
Inevitably, the discussions turn to economics and America's fascistic abandonment of diplomacy in defenseless third-world countries. Grenada, Panama, then the First Gulf War, followed by Bosnia, Kosovo, and now Iraq again --all speak to a new post-cold-war US foreign policy. These are but battles in a protracted war which threatens to continue into the next generation of war resisters and war profiteers.
Below are two items our Research Center recently received: (A.)
from the North-South Commission of Isere Branch of l'Association pour la
Taxation des Transactions financieres pour l'Aide aux Citoyens(ATTAC),
which is now discussing the tactic of boycotting American corporations;
(B.) from our research associate Elisabeth Chamorand, an important
New York Times article on U.S. WAR PROFITEERING in Iraq.
And finally, we invite readers to visit the World Wide Web site of our Research Center (CEIMSA) at the University of Grenoble-3 and read three articles recently written (in English) by graduate students of American Studies on the marketing strategies of three large U.S. corporations. Please see on our web site's Atelier No.3, Production/Distribution/Consommation: les rôles locaux des multinationales at this address : <http://www.u-grenoble3.fr/ciesimsa/ateliers/a3/
Article 18 : Isabelle Sinic, "Philip
Article 19 : Aurélie Marchal, "Is Really 'What is Good for General Motors' Good for Everyone?"
Article 20 : Anne Lise Marin Lamellet, "Veni, Vidi, Vici...ous: 100 Years of Marlboro"
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research
for <email@example.com>; Sat, 22 Mar 2003 18:01:34 +0100 (CET)
Date: Sat, 22 Mar 2003 19:07:35 +0100
De : <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Objet : boycott
APPEL A UNE ACTION PLUS EFFECTIVE CONTRE LES FAUTEURS DE GUERRE
Les Etats-Unis viennent de déclencher contre l'Irak des opérations
généralisées. cette agression est perpétrée sans l'aval des Nations-Unies,
et malgré l'opposition de la majeure partie des gouvernements et de
l'opinion publique mondiale. Elle est donc illégitime, comme vient de le
déclarer le 18 mars, à Genève, la Commission internationale des juristes.
Cette agression est opérée par une superpuissance, qui mobilise, pour
écraser sa victime, toutes ses ressources technologiques et économiques :
elle va provoquer des désespoirs, des destructions, des gaspillages
inimaginables, des réactions en chaîne impossibles à circonscrire, et sur
lesquelles on mentira, parce que la force brute ne peut prospérer sans le
Notre résistance aux fauteurs de guerre doit donc dépasser
le stade des
manifestations d'opposition symboliques, qui, même étendues à l'ensemble de
la planète, n'ont en rien empêché le déclenchement de l'agression,
n'empêcheront vraisemblablement pas sa pursuite, et finiront par lasser des
opposants auxquels on ne propose que de brandir des pancartes.
Si nous sommes convaincus que les Etats-Unis mènent une guerre
d'agression illégitime, nous devons :
1) REFUSER EVIDEMMENT QUELQUE COOPERATION QUE CE SOIT : survol ou traversée
terrestre des territoires nationaux, assistance technologique de
décontamination, à ces fauteurs de guerre. Les gouvernements, comme celui de
la France, qui réaffirment "la primauté du droit", ne peuvent, sans
contradiction grossière, prêter la main à ceux qui le violent. Il faut donc
dénoncer cette contradiction, pour exiger qu'elle cesse.
2) DEMANDER d'ores et déjà que BUSH, aussi "voyou" que
les Etats qu'il
qualifie ainsi, SOIT TRADUIT DEVANT LE TRIBUNAL PENAL INTERNATIONAL pour
avoir attaqué un pays étranger au mépris du droit international, comme
Saddam Hussein l'a fait pour le Koweit en 1990.
3) ATTAQUER LA BETE CAPITALISTE LA OU CA LUI FAIT MAL, dans ses intérêts
économiques, pour essayer, par là, de la ramener à la raison.
Proposons donc à l'ensemble des collectifs français et étrangers qui
s'opposent à cette agression, un BOYCOTT CIBLE, à mettre en place aussi
rapidement que possible, de quelques produits et services nord-américains.
Dans tout ce qui nous vient des Etats-Unis, directement ou via les filiales
des transnationales-MacDonald, Coca-Cola, films et téléfilms, compagnies de
distribution de produits pétroliers, compagnies aériennes, produits
alimentaires, pharmaceutiques, informatiques, photographiques, vêtements
etc...Il est possible de choisir quelques produits cumulant forte charge
symbolique et réel poids économique. Ce n'est pas ici le lieu d'argumenter
en faveur du boycott, mais trois remarques cependant:
1) il a été utilisé contre l'Afrique du Sud raciste,
or les Etats-Unis sont
infiniment plus dangereux pour la communauté mondiale que ne l'était
l'Afrique de l'apartheid
2) l'économie capitaliste, qu'il s'agisse de détruire
ou de reconstruire,
nourrit la guerre et se nourrit en retour de la guerre : il faut donc cesser
de coopérer avec l'économie américaine si l'on veut s'opposer à la guerre
américaine. Un mot d'ordre mondial de boycott peut faire reculer ceux qui,
quoi qu'ils en disent, mettent le fric et la puissance matérielle au-dessus
3) les arguments contre l'efficacité du boycott s'appuyant sur
tentatives précédentes ne tiennent pas compte de deux facteurs radicalement
nouveaux : l'existence d'Internet, le mouvement d'indignation mondial contre
l'agression américaine. Le terrain est donc favorable, et les moyens
matériels existent, pour lancer dans les jours qui viennent un mot d'ordre
mondial de boycott.
Le groupe de travail sur les relations Nord-Sud d'ATTAC-ISERE, le 22 mars
From Elisabeth Chamornad:
In today's NYT there is an article on the American companies that will rebuild Iraq and the cost-plus system that will be used. this is a very telling article. Cheney's former company is the first mentioned. Oil profits will be used to pay them.
Which Companies Will Put Iraq Back Together?
@ New York Times, March 23, 2003
By DIANA B. HENRIQUES
WAR began last week. Reconstruction starts this week.
That, at least, is how it looks to government contract
officers, who in the coming days plan to give American
companies the first contracts to rebuild Iraq, a task that
experts say could eventually cost $25 billion to $100
billion. It would be the largest postwar rebuilding since
the Marshall Plan in Europe after World War II.
That comparison is being made at every opportunity by Bush
administration officials, who emphasize American generosity
and farsightedness. But the government's decision to invite
only American corporations to bid on these contracts has
added to the profound international divisions that already
surround the war.
The United States plans to retain control over the
occupation and reconstruction of Iraq, allowing the
administration to decide how it will spend the money needed
to repair the country. These contracts will be financed by
the taxpayer, although senior administration officials have
hinted broadly that Iraqi oil revenue will also be used to
rebuild the country.
"We're going to use the assets of the people of Iraq,
especially their oil assets, to benefit their people," said
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on Friday.
At the top of the to-do list, according to confidential
bidding documents, is rebuilding Iraq's only deep-water
port, the harbor at Umm Qasr, where cargo is loaded on
ships that travel down a waterway in southern Iraq to the
Persian Gulf. Dredging work is expected to begin
immediately after the port, which was seized by a
British-led invasion force on Friday, is secure enough. The
bid terms give contractors no more than eight weeks to
prepare the port to handle the unloading of pallets and
containers from large ships.
A separate bidding process is being conducted by the
Defense Threat Reduction Agency, a unit of the Defense
Department. That agency is seeking bids and résumés from
companies that are skilled in dismantling and neutralizing
chemical and nuclear weapons.
Other immediate priorities will be overseen by the United
States Agency for International Development. These include
rebuilding two international and three domestic airports,
ensuring that potable water is available and reconstructing
electric power plants, roads, railroads, schools, hospitals
and irrigation systems.
Bids sought by the Army Corps of Engineers call for more
"expedient" repairs throughout the region that would be
controlled by the United States Central Command. These
repairs include installing temporary doors, using plywood
to cover broken windows and covering damaged roof areas
with plastic sheeting.
For now, the Bush administration is seeking money under a
supplemental appropriation expected to be submitted to
Congress shortly, according to administration officials.
UT it may face some heat from lawmakers upset that the
administration is moving so swiftly to sign deals with
private companies without consulting Congress first.
The companies that have been invited to bid on the work
include some of the nation's largest and most politically
connected construction businesses. Among them are
Halliburton, where Vice President Dick Cheney served as
chief executive from 1995 until mid-2000; the Bechtel
Group, whose ranks have included several Republican cabinet
alumni; and Fluor, which has ties to several former top
government intelligence and Pentagon procurement officials.
Others bidding on reconstruction business are the Parsons
Corporation, the Louis Berger Group and the Washington
Group International, which absorbed Morrison-Knudsen in
Two other companies have submitted bids in the current
round of contract awards, but contract officials declined
to identify them. The final roster of seven bidders has
already been narrowed to two or three, and contracts are
expected to be awarded this week, according to
While those contracts are sizable - potentially worth more
than $1 billion - they are a pittance compared with the
deals to follow, according to Andrew S. Natsios, the
director of United States Agency for International
Development, which is overseeing the largest contract put
out for bids so far.
But Mr. Natsios disputed some of the outside estimates
about the reconstruction costs. For example, a report
jointly sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations
predicts that it could take $25 billion simply to repair
oil export installations and restore the Iraqi electric
power system to its status before the first Persian Gulf
war in 1991.
"The private contracting companies, all the consulting
firms are going to tell us it's going to take $50 trillion
to rebuild Iraq," Mr. Natsios said. "We'll make Iraq look
like Park Avenue based on this amount of money. These are
HE administration, clearly wary of a long occupation, says
it hopes that a new Iraqi interim authority can be in place
within a month of victory and that the authority's
officials can make some decisions about the pace and
financing of reconstruction.
But the administration is already poised to decide which
companies will initially oversee and carry out the work.
They have extensive experience - and some also have awkward
political and financial baggage.
No company has firmer political connections than Kellogg
Brown & Root, the engineering and construction arm of
Halliburton. Besides its links to Mr. Cheney, the company
has been a major military contractor since World War II.
Most recently, it handled the high-speed construction of
the Guantánamo prison compound for terror suspects .
But since last May, the company has also come under
scrutiny by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which
is investigating how the company has accounted for cost
overruns on its construction and engineering work since
1998. And this spring, its shareholders will vote on a
proposal, sponsored by two giant New York City pension
funds, calling for a review of Halliburton's previous
business ties to Iran.
Louis Berger, based in East Orange, N.J., could be a
dark-horse contender in the Iraq reconstruction
sweepstakes. Besides its work on an ambitious pipeline to
carry oil from Tengiz, Kazakhstan, to a deep-water port on
the Black Sea in Russia, the privately held firm has been
an important government contractor in the Balkans for
years. More recently, it won a contract to oversee
extensive infrastructure development in postwar
Afghanistan. The centerpiece of the $300 million contract
was the rebuilding of a shattered 600-mile highway from
Kabul to Herat.
Derish Wolff, the president and chief executive, declined
to comment on the current reconstruction bidding process.
But he noted that the company had been doing extensive
"nation building" work in the Balkans.
"There is a difference between reconstruction and nation
building, where you build institutions, and not just
infrastructure," Mr. Wolff said. "You have to build, and
you have to teach them to build."
ECHTEL is considered the largest contractor in the country,
and one of the largest in the world. Its board includes a
former secretary of state, George P. Shultz, and its ranks
once included a former defense secretary, Caspar W.
Bechtel, privately held and based in San Francisco, helped
build the Hoover Dam, oversaw work on the tunnel under the
English Channel and worked on the cleanup of Chernobyl. But
it is facing a political meltdown of its own in
Massachusetts, where it is under severe criticism by the
state's inspector general for more than $1 billion in cost
overruns on the tunnel and highway construction project in
Boston, the so-called big dig.
Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts has ordered an
independent review of the project, which was managed for
the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority by Bechtel and its
joint venture partner, Parsons Brinckerhoff - which is not
related to the Parsons Corporation that is bidding on the
Jonathan Marshall, a spokesman for Bechtel, said the
inspector general's recent report on the project
"misrepresents the facts" and predicted that the company
would be vindicated by the independent review.
The joint venture "has saved taxpayers more than $1 billion
and cut years off the completion time," Mr. Marshall said.
"We continue to stand by our record." Mr. Marshall would
not comment on the recent bidding for Iraq reconstruction
Fluor, based in Aliso Viejo, Calif., is not currently
working on any Agency for International Development
projects, but it has extensive experience building
petroleum facilities in difficult places. It is building an
enormous plant on Sakhalin Island, off Russia's Pacific
coast, for an international consortium that includes Exxon
Mobil, and is developing oil and gas fields in Kazakhstan
for a consortium whose largest member is ChevronTexaco.
Last April, Fluor hired Kenneth J. Oscar, who as acting
assistant secretary of the Army oversaw the Pentagon's $35
billion-a-year procurement budget. Its board includes Bobby
R. Inman, a retired admiral who was also former director of
the National Security Agency and deputy director of the
Central Intelligence Agency.
Fluor is currently in arbitration to untangle a dispute
with Anaconda Nickel in Australia over Fluor's work on a
$615 million nickel-cobalt processing plant in western
Australia. Fluor has disputed the accusations of poor
workmanship, but Anaconda has collected millions of dollars
in compensation in the first phase of the arbitration.
A spokesman for Fluor, Jerry Holloway, confirmed that it
had been invited to bid on the work in Iraq but said he
could not comment on the scale or scope of the contracts.
ARSONS, an employee-owned company based in Pasadena,
Calif., is one of Bechel's most formidable rivals in the
Parsons, too, would not comment on the current procurement
process. But it has done extensive postwar reconstruction
work in Bosnia and Kosovo and built the Saudi military city
of Yanbu. It also helped build the subway system in
metropolitan Washington. It does not have the prominent
political connections that Bechtel and Fluor have, though
the labor secretary , Elaine Chao, served on its board for
about a year before joining the cabinet in January 2001.
In 1998, Parsons won a contract to take over the vehicle
inspection program in New Jersey, a deal that has mired the
company in a long dispute over delays and malfunctions. But
last year, the state renewed the company's contract for
another two years, though it cut the company's pay rate and
established penalties for poor service.
After the Washington Group International, based in Bosie,
Idaho, took over the ailing but venerable Morrison-Knudsen,
it continued to acquire engineering operations from
Westinghouse and Raytheon. The Raytheon purchases became a
financial quagmire, and Washington filed for Chapter 11
bankruptcy protection in 2001. Last year, it emerged after
an extensive restructuring.
It remains a major military contractor, however, and has
done extensive work in the department's so-called
demilitarization work, which involves the dismantling and
safe disposal of old weapons. It dominates the business of
neutralizing and disposing of chemical weapons within the
United States, according to Jack Herrmann, a spokesman.
ONFIDENTIAL contract documents indicate that companies
will be paid under an arrangement known as "cost plus fixed
fee." Once the cost of a project is established, the
contractor is entitled to recover those costs plus a fee
that is a fixed percentage of those costs. That percentage
is generally 8 to 10 percent, although the security
precautions required under the Iraq contracts might justify
a higher fee in some cases, construction industry analysts
The fast-track reconstruction bidding is already drawing
fire in Congress. "We can't tell the taxpayers in this
country, who are going to be asked to foot the bill for all
of this, what the charge is going to be in the aftermath,"
Senator Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat who is on
the Foreign Relations Committee, complained recently.
"Apparently, I think the administration believes that they
can get away with it, that the Congress will not do
anything about it."
Administration officials said they moved swiftly because
they needed to line up contractors with proven track
records and high-level security clearances.
"The prime contractors are American, and there's a reason
for that: In order to work in Iraq you have to have a
security clearance, and the only companies that have
security clearances are a certain number of American
companies that have done this work before in war settings,"
Mr. Natsios said.
More than 50 percent of the money will actually be spent by
subcontractors. Companies in any country, save those on the
administration's terror list, can apply to be
subcontractors, he added.
He also dismissed the lawmakers' criticism as uninformed.
"I think some senators and congressmen, because they're
under severe stress, have not maybe gone into the details
of this, but their staffs have been briefed," Mr. Natsios
But those arrangements do not satisfy construction industry
experts, who say that the administration is asking for
trouble by not setting up an independent monitoring process
from the beginning.
Thomas D. Thacher II runs a consulting firm that monitored
the integrity of the cleanup process at ground zero in
Manhattan for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and
New York City. He questioned the wisdom of demanding such
speed without also establishing ways to monitor the
integrity of the rebuilding process.
"Anytime you have an emergency response driven by time, the
opportunity for fraud, waste and abuse is huge," Mr.
Thacher said. "And when the opportunity is that great, it
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research at CEIMSA
Center for the Advanced Study of American
Institutions and Social Movements
University of Grenoble-3