Corporate 'good citizens'

Issue 

If you think that McDonald's activities are an aberration, think again:

  • With a turnover of $10.8 billion in 1996, Rio Tinto is the biggest mining company in the world; its environmental and human rights record is amongst the worst. According to its chairperson, Sir Roderick Carnegie: "The right to land depends on the ability to defend it". Rio Tinto's "right" to mines such as Freeport in West Papua and Panguna in Bougainville has been "defended" by the brutal armed forces of Indonesia and the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, both armed and trained by the Australian army.

  • Oil giant Chevron produces about 400,000 barrels of oil a day in Nigeria, a country ruled by a brutal military dictatorship. On May 28, 1998, Chevron called in the feared paramilitary Mobile Police (known as "kill-and-go" to locals) to end an occupation by 120 villagers of an oil platform. Many were killed. Chevron spokesperson Mike Libbey told a radio reporter: "In order for Chevron to do business in 90 countries around the world, we must cooperate with governments of many kinds".

  • the 1991 war against Iraq had nothing to do with "liberating" Kuwait and everything to do with ensuring the profits of mainly US oil companies like Exxon, Mobil and Chevron. "Middle East oil is the west's lifeblood. It fuels us today, and being [the bulk] of the free world's proven oil reserves is going to fuel us when the rest of the world runs dry", declared US General Norman Schwarzkopf, supreme commander of allied forces.

  • "The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist — McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F15 [war plane]. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps." — New York Times correspondent Thomas L. Friedman, March 28, 1999.