Friday, February 08, 2008

In The Beginning

It's so quaint, now, but we should remember that in the early days Republicans dreamed of an Iraq which was a libertarian paradise giant patronage machine for their donors.

But back in Washington, D.C., the focus had already turned from the needs of Iraq to the bottom lines of a select few corporations. "The battle for Iraq is not over oil," said one Defense Department official involved in communications. "It's over bandwidth." And no one was fighting harder for a piece of the spectrum than the consortium led by American cellular giant Qualcomm with such business partners as Lucent Technologies and Samsung of South Korea. They wanted to follow U.S. troops into Iraq with Qualcomm's patented cellular technology, called CDMA, a system no nation in the Middle East had yet been willing to adopt. Even as the bombs fell over Baghdad, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), whose district includes many Qualcomm employees, had tried to wrap his favored company in the flag. He denounced the cellular system used by Iraq's neighbors as "an outdated French standard," and proposed a law that would effectively mandate Qualcomm on Iraq. "Hundreds of thousands of American jobs depend on the success of U.S.-developed wireless technologies like CDMA," Issa wrote in a March 26, 2003, letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. A swarm of lobbyists rallied to the companies' cause, including William Walker, a former protégé of Rumsfeld from the Ford White House, and Stacy Carlson, who ran President George W. Bush's California campaign in 2000.