ANZ: Iraq War Profiteer
- by Murray Horton
The judges of the 2005 Roger Award for the Worst Transnational Corporation Operating in Aotearoa/New Zealand made it clear, when jointly awarding the title to BNZ and Westpac, that if all four Australian-owned banks had been nominated (the other two being ANZ and ASB), they would have declared all four to be the collective winner and to be viewed as one conglomerate. Well, ANZ may have missed out on the Roger, but it has been distinguishing itself in the international arena.
War profiteers are among the most despicable of the various players that have enthusiastically thrown themselves into the bloodfilled swamp that is the illegal American-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. There’s no shortage of them and a very good introduction can be read in the cover story of Watchdog 103, August 2003 (“War Profiteers: Corporate Beneficiaries Of The US War On Iraq”, Bill Rosenberg. This can be read online at
On September 1, 2003 (a few months after the invasion), ANZ announced that it was part of the Trade Bank of Iraq – a grouping of international banks led by US behemoth, JP Morgan Chase – created by the illegal Occupation Forces. The Iraq Trade Bank was set up to “facilitate international trade as part of Iraq’s reconstruction”. And hasn’t that “reconstruction” been a howling success – the general consensus among Iraqis is that, in terms of the essentials of life, infrastructure, employment and security, they were better off under the murderous dictator, Saddam Hussein. Iraqi civilian deaths since they were “liberated’ are estimated at anything up to 100,000 (the Americans deliberately do not count them, preferring to obsessively focus on the slowly but steadily increasing number of American soldiers killed there – now at 2,000+. Bear in mind that there are tens of thousands of American and other foreign mercenaries serving in this most privatised of wars. Their deaths are not counted either, so the numbers killed on “our” side are deliberately kept artificially low, for expedient political reasons).
In reality, the finance consortium encourages the importation of cheap products from the West (such as dairy products from NZ), flooding the Iraqi market and making Iraq dependent on outside business to the detriment of its own economy. Iraqi unemployment is around 70% because the economy is being restructured in a manner that benefits transnational corporations and certainly not the people of Iraq. For an example of the utter savagery of this restructuring at gunpoint, see Watchdog 107, December 2004 (“ Iraq’s New Patent Law: A Declaration Of War Against Farmers”, GRAIN and Focus on the Global South. It can be read online at http://www.converge.org.nz/watchdog/07/09.htm. Follow the links in that to articles on the subject in earlier Watchdogs). The war profiteers hide behind the tanks and helicopters, the prisons, torture chambers and killing grounds, to make money out of this act of armed robbery and mass murder. They work to systematically “restructure” Iraq so that its lifeblood is sucked dry, to their benefit and the great detriment of the Iraqi people. They are parasites and beneath contempt.
Naturally, this has not gone unnoticed or unopposed. A trans-Tasman campaign against ANZ the war profiteer was launched. In Auckland, a March 2005 protest (organised by Global Peace and Justice Auckland) to mark the second anniversary of the invasion led to at least 100 people demonstrating at the city’s main ANZ branch, in Queen Street. The police broke up the protest in a heavy handed and provocative fashion, arrested four people and used highly dangerous choke holds. Things descended into farce when five more people were arrested at the Auckland District Court when they tried to attend the case of one of those arrested. They were charged with trespass – when they appeared, in June 2005, common sense prevailed and the judge dismissed the charges against all five when the prosecution’s key witness, the court manager, failed to reveal any reason for the arrests. Cases are still outstanding against some of the four arrested at the original March 2005 protest. More recently, as part of an October 2005 Day of Action, the ANZ’s automatic cash machines in Wellington were festooned by stickers bearing slogans such as “ANZ: Making Profit From Iraqi Misery” and “ANZ: Profiting From Iraqi Blood”. The pressure needs to be kept on this transnational vampire to get its fangs out of the neck of the Iraqi people.
Foreign Control Watchdog, P O Box 2258, Christchurch, New Zealand/Aotearoa. December 2005.
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