December 11, 2003

The Difference Between Pork and Spoils

Michael Williams believes that because someone is going to make an awul lot of money on reconstruction contracts in Iraq, that makes them spoils of war. It does not. The war was only incidental to the contracts from a political point of view (as opposed to national security). If the political faction behind KBR gets a contract, they don't care if it's in support of war related reconstruction or AIDS initiative infrastructure construction. It's money for KBR and their political backers. It's corporate pork to the extent that unnecessary expenditures went from US taxpayers to KBR. Btw: the example could be Bechtel, Halliburton, or any of the reams of politically connected firms that feed off of government contracts. I'm not implying anything about KBR other than they're good at extracting money from the US govt.

A spoil of war must, of necessity, be coming out of the hide of the defeated power. If the money is coming out of the pockets of taxpayers in the winning countries or interested neutrals, it might be pork, it might be a political payoff, but it is not a spoil. The term spoil implies that a party is despoiled ( defines this as "To deprive for spoil; to plunder; to rob; to pillage; to strip; to divest"). This is a linguistic necessity. But who has been despoiled? Where did the money come from? To speak of spoils of war in Iraq implies that the US is robbing Iraq. That is not true and requires too much explanation to be of any practical benefit other than misleading propaganda.

Posted by TMLutas at December 11, 2003 03:04 PM