BECHTEL, THE biggest vulture to have got its claws into Iraq since the invasion, planned to be in London on Friday this week. It wanted to hand out a few scraps to British firms linked to government projects here. Bechtel is a byword for ruthless privatisation. The US government has given it the principal contract, worth $680 million, to 'reconstruct' Iraq.
The true cost of rebuilding, say experts, is likely to rise to $100 billion, paid for from Iraq's oil, with the work and profit going to multinationals such as Bechtel.
Bechtel is linked to Bush's regime and top company figures lobbied for war on Iraq. Chunk George Schultz, a former Republican Secretary of State, sits on the board of a Bechtel subsidiary. He wrote last September, 'A strong foundation exists for immediate military action against Saddam Hussein.' Twenty years ago Schultz sent Donald Rumsfeld to Baghdad to, among other things, lobby for Bechtel to build an oil pipeline to Jordan.
The company, which is owned by the Bechtel family, was also responsible for making water unaffordable in Bolivia under a privatisation scheme. It is now suing the Bolivian government for reversing the sell-off.
In Britain, it has just got its hands on a chunk of the tube under New Labour's PPP privatisation scheme, and is up to its neck in PFI projects. Bechtel executives expected a warm welcome from government ministers this week. Protesters were planning a different welcome outside Bechtel's conference in Hammersmith, west London.
For details of protest outside Bechtel's conference go to www.stopwar.org.uk