The Bush Agenda: Conquering the World, One Economy at a Time
By Antonia Juhasz
NYC, ReganBooks (HarperCollins), 2006.
This is an infuriating book.
It infuriates the way truth does when you get a cold splash of it and
you learn how you've been taken. (Example: In 2004, Halliburton, the
world's largest energy services corporation, and the happy hunting
grounds of its former CEO, Dick Cheney, charged American taxpayers
$27,500,000 to deliver $82,000 worth of heating oil from Kuwait to
This is also a hopeful book.
How the author manages this alchemy of outrage and uplift requires
close attention and willingness to learn. Ms. Juhasz names names and
doesn't pull her punches. She has done her homework, filled in the
gaps. She argues her case like a lawyer, and I'm glad she's on our
The Bush Agenda is subsumed in the subtitle: to invade and conquer the
world by conflating America's "national interest" with American-based
multinational corporations' interests in instituting trade policies
that cripple our trading partners and make them dependent upon our
political largesse and military power. Ms. Juhasz exposes the
squirrelly cast of characters hiding behind masks of preemptive
patriotism and hard-power "democracy."
I'd divide her book into four parts: Vision, Methodology, Rebuttal,
Vision is Bush and Company's dystopic vision of "war and free trade,"
the "twin solutions to virtually all of the world's problems." Listen
as carefully as Ms. Juhazs has to Bush's stump speeches and you hear
the constant refrain: "the surest path to greater wealth is greater
trade." Free trade and "free markets" are not, of course, synonymous
with "freedom," though our cheerleading President never makes the
distinction. Ms. Juhasz prefers the less euphonious, more accurate
reality: corporate globalization. In her words, our policies "expand
the rights of multinational corporations and investors to operate in
more locations, under fewer regulations, with less commitment to any
Bush's vision is abetted "through the barrel of a gun." The major
corporate players are Halliburton, Bechtel (the world's largest
construction company), Lockheed Martin (the world's largest weapons
manufacturer), and Chevron (one of the "Four Sisters" oil companies).
These corporations thrive on the control and exploitation of energy --
namely, oil production and distribution, and they have spearheaded
America's imperialist thrust into the "developing" world. Integrated
boards of directors, seats on "development" agencies like the World
Bank, IMF, and WTO, and revolving-door blurring of public and private
sectors -- all serve to promote their mutual interests. Chevron, for
example, is "the only oil company in the world that can count the
former U.S. national security adviser and current secretary of state
as a former director." That's Condoleezza, of course, proud bearer of
the name of a Chevron oil tanker! Then there's Bechtel, where George
Shultz, Reagan's Secretary of State, has been pasturing for decades.
The point is, they all know each other. They go to the same parties!
Add the NeoCon media and think-tank hucksters -- William Kristol,
James Woolsey, Kenneth Edelman, Robert Zoellick, Lynne Cheney (the
V.P.'s wife served on Lockheed Martin's board from 1994 to 2000), and,
of course, Henry Kissinger, et. al. -- salivating in print and
broadcast venues since the end of the Cold War, about the need to
establish a global Pax Americana and we've all the ingredients for a
Superpower empire. Then, light the fuse with 9/11 and Iraq!
Juhasz devotes more than half her book to the "mutual seduction" of
Iraq. She describes how, "over the course of several
administrations," the four corporations used their influence "to
increase economic engagement with Iraq and then, when Saddam Hussein
no longer played ball, to advocate for war." Bechtel, Chevron,
Halliburton, and Lockheed Martin "were part of a chorus of
corporations desiring increased and more secure access to Iraqi
profits." Clearly, our corporate-governmental alliance used 9/11 and
then the myth of WMD to declare illegal war -- in violation of the
Geneva Conventions, which our Constitution upholds as a treaty
obligation, "the law of the land" -- to seize the oil wealth of 25
million people and establish new military bases in the Middle East.
How Provisional Authority "Dictator" Paul Bremer spent 14 months in
Iraq issuing 100 Orders that lock Iraq into deleterious "free-market,"
judicial and military agreements, should comprise a book in itself
(but not one written by Bremer!).
Juhasz will not allow us to buy the bilge-water that we've been
dealing with a cast of well-meaning incompetents who simply improvised
poorly when it came to implementing their New World ("Democratic")
Order. "It is now repeated as gospel that the Bush administration had
no plan for post-conflict Iraq," she reminds us (and we may recall
Rumsfeld's shrug: "Stuff happens … Freedom is untidy"). "But the
gospel is not correct," she continues. "There was at least one clear
plan -- an economic plan -- the blueprint for which was ready and in
Bush administration hands at least two months prior to the invasion."
One of the principal architects of that plan was Paul Bremer, who left
the U.S. State Department in 1989 to become the managing director of
Kissinger Associates. Bremer was no naïf in suit and combat boots,
struggling to bring order to a devastated Iraq. He was following a
carefully scripted plan, devised by the corporate and government elite
for over a decade. He knew exactly what he was doing. In 2001, he had
warned companies that "the painful consequences of globalization are
felt long before its benefits are clear." The point is, the War on
Iraq, and the "War on Terror" have never really been about spreading
democracy or freedom, or finding weapons of mass destruction or
toppling a dictator. They have always been about globalization -- and
war as the chief instrument to spread the American brand of it.
Bremer's 100 Orders are akin to Presidential Executive Orders. It
doesn't matter what sort of Constitutional government Iraq may evolve
into, Iraqis are hidebound by the Orders they were given. Order #62
enabled Bremer to determine which Iraqis could run for or hold public
offices. Order # 65 established an Iraqi Communications and Media
Commission, and Bremer appointed its members. Order #'s 57 and 77
placed American representatives in key decision-making positions
within each government ministry for terms that last five years -- well
after the permanent elected government of Iraq takes office in 2006.
Perhaps the icing on the cake, Order # 39 "does no less than
'transition [Iraq] from a … centrally planned economy to a market
economy' virtually overnight and by U.S. fiat." It allows for the
privatization of Iraq's state-owned enterprises; 100 percent foreign
ownership of Iraqi businesses; "national treatment," or, "no
preferences for local over foreign businesses"; "unrestricted,
tax-free remittance of all profits and other funds"; "the right to
take legal disputes out of Iraq's courts and into international
What we have here is not freedom, but the perversion of freedom. Not
well-meaning Americans spreading the ideals of democracy, but the
worst kind of hypocrites. Do we still wonder why these people hate us?
Do we wonder why the "insurgency" goes on and on and on when we lock
our clients, our colonies, into alien systems, forcing them to bow
before our alien gods of commerce and our martial law?
Juhasz describes the tragedy of imperial over-reach, but she concludes
with a ray of hope and a call to arms: the interlocked arms of
citizens, consumers, students, working people, mothers -- all those
who stand for community against empire, localization against corporate
hierarchialism, human values against profits. She was Congressman John
Conyer's aide, and she has served as the project director of the
International Forum on Globalization. She has marched and protested,
appeared on CBS News, CNN and NPR. She's been there and she's done
that, and in this fine, thoughtful book, she tells it like it is, and,
if we awake in time, like it still could be.
Gary Corseri has taught in public schools and prisons in the U.S., and
at US and Japanese universities. His work has appeared at Dissident
Voice, Palestine Chronicle, TeleSurtv.net, CounterPunch, CommonDreams,
The New York Times, Village Voice, Uruknet, City Lights Review,
Atlanta-PBS, WorldProutAssembly and 200 other websites and
publications. His books include: Manifestations (edited); Holy Grail,
Holy Grail; and A Fine Excess. He can be contacted at: