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January 7, 2011

The New Pentagon: Soldiers of Fortune 500

On the surface, this new Businessweek (excuse me, Bloomberg Businessweek) cover is intriguing enough. It seems the military is not just in the war business anymore. Instead, in a classic pro-Empire/Shock Doctrine move, the Pentagon has fully integrated the corporate commercial interests of the U.S. into its agenda through its “Task Force for Business & Stability Operations.” As a result, America can not only occupy a country and level its industrial capacity, it can now, as a combined war machine and colonial Chamber of Commerce, actually pave the way for US companies to move on in.

What I really like about this photo-illustration, though, in sketching out the possibilities in Afghanistan, is how the suggestion works with the background image. On one hand, you could say the cover imagines the most productive outcome out of a situation that is the most inflamed.  If you think about the handtruck in the hands of the guy with the rifle, and particularly, the proximity of the smoke to the smokestacks, however, the real lure here, in appealing to gun shy U.S. companies (especially if there’s that much industry to begin with), might be the prospect of setting up U.S./Pentagon-approved dirty factories using dirt cheap labor in a fabulous new third-world industrial zone.

Backstory: Afghanistan: Land of War and Opportunity (Businessweek)

(photo-illustration by @JenniferDaniel with a study here.)

  • Vigilante

    The pathos presented here is unparalleled. The answer to the question of “What are we doing in Afghanistan”? is another question. The Chamber of Commerce’s question, “What if?”

  • Laura

    A creepy, imperialist version of Microsoft’s old “Your Potential / Our Passion” campaign – Begs the question, whose potential / whose passion?

  • black dog barking

    A stunning admission of utter lack of imagination. American businesses sit on a monstrous pile of cash wondering what to do next. “I dunno” is their battle cry. Failing a vision of what to do next in their own society this suggests a good next move is to transform Afghanistan into what we used to be. The Past is the Future™.

  • Thomas

    There is something really sick and vile about this shock doctrine image.

    Trying my best to ignore the sick and vile aspect, on a purely visual level there is an interesting juxtaposition of utopia/dystopia.

    Actually this might be a good definition for the shock doctrine: to see the utopia in every dystopia. It requires a warped imagination to be sure.

  • Charlie

    The sad fact is that most of our military budget ends up being spent on overseas wars and our thousand plus overseas bases, most of the bailout money went to overseas investments, most of American tax dollars spent on corporate welfare goes to overseas investments or to offshoring Americas labor. War, spying, offshoring labor, importing illegal labor, deregulation, governmental capture are all just part of Americas coporate strategy and agenda. Welcome to 21st century America…owned and operated by the corporation.

  • Rafael

    Empire by any other name.

  • littlebadwolf

    very sadly, it is overdue to recognize america’s foreign adventures–gussied up as ’spreading freedoms’ for the commercial enterprises they really are. oil in iraq and minerals in afghanistan are the true missions here, along with the transfer of funds to corporations which facilitate these operations outside the country. hand in hand with bailouts which also allowed the transfer of america’s wealth into foreign operations which are not taxable in the u.s., the country is being raped by commercial interests which make the largest demands on american funds and infrastructure, and provide the smallest return.

    if we stopped this massive and foolish outpouring, we could fund all the healthcare, education, and civic improvement we need, keeping the expended funds within our borders, and fulfilling the american dream.

    which is what the american people really want. not isolation, but enlightened self-interest. an upward spiral, not a vast loss, is desperately needed to save america.

  • tinwoman

    There’s no possibility for development in Afghanistan because of climate change. The place is drying out, the glacial ice in the mountains is going, and the population will become increasingly impoverished and desperate and will either migrate, die out, or persist in small hardscrabble pockets, not suitable for large scale economic activity. To a large extent it’s already happened in some areas.

    You can say the same thing over most of Central Asia. It makes to sense to develop it because in 100 years it will be too dry to be habitable.

    That people persist in just not recognizing this amazes me.

  • tinwoman

    LOL “it makes no sense to develop it” I should have typed.

  • Popsiq

    Raytheon eEast? MacDonell Douglas Asia? Colt Arms Afghanistan?

    Nah. But it will be something presently being ‘made in America’.

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