Home / Books / Book Reviews / Book Review: Blood Money – Wasted Billions, Lost Lives, and Corporate Greed in Iraq by T. Christian Miller

Book Review: Blood Money – Wasted Billions, Lost Lives, and Corporate Greed in Iraq by T. Christian Miller

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I’m no pacifist. Sometimes wars are necessary to stave off encroachment upon sovereign territories. World War II is an example of a horrible yet necessary war that was needed to keep the Axis Powers from overrunning Europe, Africa and the Near East. While the cruelty of that war has been chronicled over the past 60 years, the end result was a reconstruction effort for Europe so ambitious that it seemed unfathomable at the time. It was called the Marshall Plan, and anyone familiar with 20th-century world history understands how significant this effort was.

Since the time of The Marshall Plan, the nature of war has changed. In the case of the United States vs. Iraq, a number of scenarios were used to justify a second US intervention in the country, none of which have the ring of truth. One of those scenarios includes the one proposed by LA Times Washington correspondent T. Christian Miller in his extremely comprehensive Blood Money: Wasted Billions, Lost Lives, and Corporate Greed in Iraq. Miller, who has painstakingly researched his hypothesis, offers the rehabilitation of Iraq as a main reason for the war in the first place.

While President George W. Bush tried to use the rehabilitation of Iraq as his version of a Marshall Plan for the Near East, Miller uncovers thousands of government documents which reveal that re-construction corporations like Halliburton/KBR were in on the plans for war from the beginning, and were shoe-ins for no-bid government contracts before one US soldier landed on Iraqi soil.

Beyond this, Miller accentuates the bungling of government overseers in Washington and Baghdad too immersed in the partisan politics to notice the incredible fraud and waste of taxpayer and Iraqi cash that enhanced the insurgent revolt now dominating Iraq. Worse, Miller notes incidents of over 500 killings of contractor employees, and alleges assassinations of military men and contractors who tried to halt the abuse.

While at times Miller can be a bit heavy-handed stylistically, this book puts the reader inside the heads of workingmen just trying to feed their families while dodging Improvised Explosive Devices on jagged highways where supplies, ammunition, and oil were transported – a gauntlet many workers were unsure they’d survive each night. It follows the money, which is surreptitiously laundered through Middle Eastern currency traders and sent to contractors supplying sub-par equipment for coalition forces. And it connotes the inter-office squabbling of Pentagon bureaucrats who pissed away critical time in providing adequate cover for US troops fighting the insurgency.

Above all, Blood Money shows how easily the Bush administration and the Coalition Provisional Authority spent more time covering the asses of their friends in the contracting world while letting young American men die for the lack of proper armament. Blood Money is a sprawling work that will leave you aghast and exhausted after reading each chapter.

You don’t have to be a pacifist to find yourself opposed to the methods used by Bush, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his Pentagon staff to build their so-called democratic Iraq. You just need a modicum of common sense. Blood Money will flood your mind with heavy doses of it. I dare anyone to defend the actions of the Bush administration after reading this remarkable work.

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About Larry

  • There are good points in the book. I would like to supplement them with some information:

    I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

    If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting at
    my blog entitled, “Odyssey of Armaments”.

    The Pentagon is a giant, incredibly complex establishment, budgeted in excess of $500B per year. The Rumsfelds, the Administrations and the Congressmen come and go but the real machinery of policy and procurement keeps grinding away, presenting the politicos who arrive with detail and alternatives slanted to perpetuate itself.

    How can any newcomer, be he a President, a Congressman or even the Sec. Def. to be – Mr. Gates- understand such complexity, particularly if heretofore he has not had the clearance to get the full details?

    Answer- he can’t. Therefore he accepts the alternatives provided by the career establishment that never goes away and he hopes he makes the right choices. Or he is influenced by a lobbyist or two representing companies in his district or special interest groups.

    From a practical standpoint, policy and war decisions are made far below the levels of the talking heads who take the heat or the credit for the results.

    This situation is unfortunate but it is absolute fact. Take it from one who has been to war and worked in the establishment.

    This giant policy making and war machine will eventually come apart and have to be put back together to operate smaller, leaner and on less fuel. But that won’t happen until it hits a brick wall at high speed.

    We will then have to run a Volkswagen instead of a Caddy and get along somehow. We better start practicing now and get off our high horse. Our golden aura in the world is beginning to dull from arrogance.