Depending on the political leanings of your favoured media outlets, you might have varied views on the war in Iraq. If your preference is for left-leaning media, then you might have come across the opinion that the current occupation of Iraq by American and British forces is less about the liberation of the Iraqi people and the transition of government from dictatorship to democracy, and more about having control over the country’s extremely precious oil reserves. Although dressed up and sold to the electorates of the West as a fight for freedom and against terror, the evidence of a deeper political agenda appears to bubble under the surface.
The charity War on Want has gathered evidence about the running of the oil fields and other commercial operations controlled by Western companies. It suggests a cavalier attitude to corporate responsibility and that these businesses are more concerned with siphoning money from the war-scarred country than helping to rebuild its economy. Western companies dominate the oil business, millions of dollars worth of machines and equipment have been purchased and imported, and contractors are brought in from abroad, whether it’s to rebuild schools and public buildings, or to help the government soldiers fight the insurgency.
Iraq: Operation Corporate Takeover tells this story through the eyes of an Iraqi blogger called Nazem. Having spent most of the war out of the country, studying in London, he returns to his homeland to find foreign business dominating many facets of his country. He tours a local school where his sister teaches and finds the rebuilding work has left it in a worse state than it was in before the American-sponsored contractors arrived. His father is battling for better conditions for oil workers. Nazem feels he has little option but to put fingers to keyboard and tell the world what’s really going on.
Despite this human face, the presentation of the information is still somewhat dry. Nazem’s blog posts are informative and well presented but his conversations with his relatives feature statistics and quite a lot of other dense information, which gives it the feeling of a lecture dressed as fiction.
The book and its comic-style presentation makes it an interesting spring-board into the complex politics of Iraq. Those already suspicious that there might be a few layers of agenda that haven’t been made public will find few surprises and some more food for thought in here, about what America and Britain are still doing in Iraq and whose best interests are really being served.
Order online from the War on Want online shop.