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Flight to the Tax Haven

by Dago Langhans Wednesday, Jun. 06, 2007 at 2:30 AM
mbatko@lycos.com

Halliburton's relocation to the Emirate is "an example of the most wicked entrepreneurial greed, an insult to US soldiers and taxpayers who paid the bill all these years for the no-bid contracts and exorbitant prices. Security policy differs from propaganda as sharing differs from megalomania

FLIGHT TO THE TAX HAVEN

Halliburton moves to Dubai. Critics of the state-friendly US corporation presume tax gifts and hushing up scandals as main reasons

By Dago Langhans

[This article published in: Junge Welt, 5/3/2007 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.jungewelt.de/2007/05-31/013.php?print=1. The Alternative Annual Report on Halliburton is available at www.halliburtonwatch.org and www.corpwatch.org.]

When the duet of war and oil played anywhere in the world in recent history, the US corporation Halliburton played first violin. Managers and the corporate directors from Houston, Texas chose president George Bush Senior’s secretary of defense Richard “Dick” Cheney in 1995 as its business leader. Halliburton was Washington’s largest contracting firm after Cheney, Bush Junior’s vice-president since 2001, supervised the occupation of Iraq by the most heavily armed military power in world history. billion in sales was given to the corporation. The firm’s “engagement” also caused great damage, billion through excessively high prices, waste and loss. This will occupy many US congressional committees for a long while.

TO NEW SHORES

Halliburton preferred to leave “God’s own country.” The corporate headquarters has moved from the Texan oil metropolis to Dubai, the booming metropolis of the second-largest partial state of the United Arab Emirate (UAE),

The migration of the business founded in 1919 to the Persian Gulf was officially announced at an annual meeting of Halliburton shareholders two weeks ago. On the streets, corporate critics celebrated a symbolic “good bye party.” “Take the money and run” was the motto on demonstrator banners.

At the same time, the corporate critics of CorpWatch published its fourth alternative annual report. The current report under the ironic title “Good Bye Houston” sums up the scandal-ridden international entanglements of the Texan oil service provider.

In the US and beyond, Halliburton is regarded as the epitome of a state-promoted contracting firm amassing the bulk of US-government contracts to support diverse military interventions without price commitments, quality controls and official competition. Critics were sickened hat the US-vice turned up surprisingly in the Emirate right after Cheney’s latest lightning visit on a US aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. He was received euphorically by the top ruling feudal class like the acting Halliburton chief David Lesar a week before. Lesar declared the way to Dubai serves new strategic priorities. Through its local presence in the Middle East and in Eurasia, Halliburton will gain a stronger foothold and raise sales to billion in the next five years.

Ebtisam Al Kitbi, political scientist at Emirate University, emphasized ambiguously to the Dallas News: Dubai has a modern infrastructure as demanded by multinational businesses. There are good schools and airline connections. Lastly, there is also a grain of truth that laissez-faire economic standards prevail in the Emirate. Al Kitbi explained the relocation with view to state control mechanisms in the US: “I think they are doing this to escape taxation in the US and avoid all legal scrutiny.”

WRETCHED REPUTATION

Many in the US support this interpretation of the relocation. “This is an example of the most wicked entrepreneurial greed,” said democratic senator Patrick Leahy. The relocation in the Emirate is an “insult to US soldiers and taxpayers who paid the bill all these years for the no-bid contracts and the exorbitant prices.” Last week the Halliburton management tried everything to please the critics. To appease the ultra-reactionaries on the neo-conservative side, the business connections to an Arab business were described as part of the common work in natural gas exploration in Iran. With the separation from Halliburton-subsidiary Kellogg-Brown and Root (KBR) in April, the management rid itself of a subsidiary whose self-service mentality provoked the harshest criticism and many local and congressional investigations on its operations in Iraq.

Notwithstanding various scandals, KBR with annual sales of %5.5 billion is still the fourth-largest civilian contractor of the US government. KBR is involved in all military deployments of the US armed forces. Through the outsourcing program of the former Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld, KBR had a prominent position in all military logistics in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. The corporation helps out the US military power as a service provider in another 90 countries.

As long as military interventionism remains an economic constant of US policy, the now independent KBR management will not have any great cash-flow problems despite legal bickering. As the Washington Technology journal reported last week, KBR recently signed a billion service-provider contract over many years with the British defense ministry.

[Translator’s note: Cooking the intelligence, exaggerating the threat, demonizing Hussein and glossing over injustice in US trade policy are elements of propaganda. A security policy deserving its name would go beyond blaming the victim. Justice requires equalizing benefits and risks and mending our own pockets. Normalization of war and militarization of foreign policy have turned the US into a threat to the world. In a world of shared power and shared vulnerability, countries should be treated as partners, not as vassals. War-mongering and thuggery may succeed in GI-Joe movies and Wyatt Eerp nostalgia but are hardly 21st century identities.]

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