Making a killing


Quoting New York Times economics writer Jeff Madrick, Newcastle University lecturer Chris Dorran told a November 13 meeting that "by almost any mainstream economists' standard, the plan [for the economic transformation of Iraq] is extreme; in fact, stunning".

Madrick was referring to US plans for the reorganisation of Iraq's economy, including a 15% flat tax rate for individuals and corporations, and laws allowing 100% repatriation of profits by foreign companies.

The meeting was jointly organised by the Sydney Stop the War Coalition and AidWatch.

Dorran explained how oil profits were a big factor behind the US-led invasion of Iraq, but not the only reason. For Australia's corporate elite, Iraq's nationalised food-processing industry was a major incentive to participate in the occupation.

Kate Wheen from AidWatch discussed the (mis)use of aid in Iraq. She revealed that the day after the war started on March 20, 2003, $100 million from the AusAID budget was approved to purchase an AWB wheat shipment that was stranded in the Persian Gulf. Had the ship reached Iraq, it would have been clear evidence of the AWB kickbacks program. The sale was disallowed by the UN because it was at 400% of the market price for wheat.