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Iraq's Next Shock Will be Shock Therapy

With one exception - the actual military "victory," which looks increasingly Pyrrhic - President Bush's Iraqi adventure has been marked by repeated failures. Scant signs of weapons of mass destruction have been found, and, according to David Kay, America's chief arms inspector, the stockpiles either never existed or were destroyed years ago. So Bush simply ignored the data, gathered by Hans Blix's UN inspectors, and the evidence on which he based his case for war seems to have been largely fabricated.

Worse still, it is now clear that Bush never had a plan for when the war ended. Instead of moving towards peace and democracy, the situation in Iraq remains so dangerous that Paul Bremer, the American occupation leader, is using instability as his rationale for avoiding democratic elections this year.

Of course, America tried to keep real order in some places, revealing a lot about what it truly valued in Iraq. When Baghdad fell, the oil ministry was quickly protected, while museums and hospitals were allowed to be looted.

If there was not outright corruption in the $7 billion in contracts awarded to Halliburton, whose former chairman was Vice President Dick Cheney, there was undoubtedly a strong whiff of crony capitalism. Halliburton and its subsidiaries have been ensnared in charges of war profiteering ever since, and have had to pay back millions of dollars to the US government.