The real looters are now arriving in Iraq. They do not want to grab a TV or a computer – nothing so trivial. They are after great chunks of the economy. Oil is top of the list. The US defence department is setting up an advisory board to run Iraq's oil industry.
The head of the board is likely to be Philip Carroll, former chief executive of Shell Oil. State department advisor Fahhil Chalabi, a former Iraqi oil minister, said last week, 'We need to have a large amount of money coming into the country. The only way is to partially privatise the oil industry.'
And it is not just oil. The United States Agency for International Development is handing out contracts worth up to $100 billion.
The Halliburton company has just grabbed a $7 billion contract to fight fires at oil wells. Vice-president Dick Cheney used to be chief executive of Halliburton, and he still gets $1 million a year from the company as a 'retainer'. No competition for the contract was allowed. The Pentagon said that 'it would have been a wasteful duplication of effort' to have invited any other companies to bid.
US military contractor DynCorp has been hired to recruit a private police force for Iraq. Only US citizens need apply and you do not need to speak a word of Arabic. DynCorp was forced to pay £110,000 to an employee sacked after she blew the whistle on other DynCorp employees taking part in a prostitution ring in Bosnia. The DynCorp workers, contracted to the UN, bought and sold prostitutes as young as 12.
This week the US company Research Triangle Institute was granted a $7.9 million contract to 'strengthen local administration' in Iraq.
On the same day Creative Associates International was handed a $2 million education contract. Previously Stevedoring Services of America were given a $4.8 million contract to run Umm Qasr port. Republican congressman Darrel Issa has now introduced a bill that would require the US defence department to build a CDMA cellphone system in Iraq. This is in order to benefit 'US patent holders'. CDMA is the US phone system developed by Qualcomm, one of the most generous donors to congressman Issa.
In the weeks to come contracts are due to be handed out for almost every sector of the economy. Blair's only complaint is that British firms may not get their share.