War Profiteering and the Vietnam War

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In almost every conflict in the United States history, war profiteering has existed in some form. America fights when there is a profit to be had, and the motivation for becoming involved in wars has nothing what-so-ever to do with concerns of democracy and freedom. US doctrines of hegemony, the plundering of wealth, and the theft of citizen tax dollars to fund wars that benefit those who grease the palms of politicians, has become the ugly face of today’s modern era of “American Democracy”.

A company now known to many as one of the companies that profited from the Iraq War, Kellogg, Brown, and Root; was also the focus of a war profiteering scandal of the 1960s, involving the Lyndon B. Johnson administration and the Vietnam War.

The contract awarded to then “Brown and Root” was extensive, signing over billions of dollars to the company to rebuild virtually the entire infrastructure of Vietnam. The deal was a no-bid contract, meaning Brown and Root was awarded the contract without competition, and without a ceiling on the price tag.

Frequently, companies with close ties to the presidential administration are presented with lucrative contracts, allegedly to simplify the selection process. When the companies vying for these deals find themselves with no competition, there is little incentive to cut costs and lower the bids. In reality, the companies present swollen proposals, and often pocket the leftover cash at the end of the work project.

Corporate contracts were awarded in Southeast Asia even before the Vietnam War. In 1954, the United States created the “largest construction entity ever” (which included Brown and Root) for the appointed task of creating a solid military infrastructure in Southern Vietnam, and over the next ten years, constructed over $2 billion in military projects. Compare that to today’s dollar value that number would equate to nearly $20 billion.

In the mid-1960s, Congress began an investigation that eventually linked some of the Vietnam construction contractors to thousands of dollars of campaign contributions to Johnson’s election fund.