Protest Local War Profiteers

Ruby Sinreich's picture

I apologize for the length, but there doesn't seem to be any info online.

As a warm up to March 20:

Please Spread the Word and join us for the International Day of Action Against War Profiteers: Tuesday, February 24

"Why are RTI , UNC, Duke, NCCU, and NCSU willing accomplices to war profiteering?"

"Why Won't Bush and RTI allow real democracy in Iraq?"

RTI: You CHOSE to take this contract, now CHOOSE to promote FAIR AND FREE ELECTIONS. NO, NO TO SELECTION. YES, YES TO ELECTIONS.

RTI & LOCAL UNIVERSITIES OUT OF IRAQ.

Let the Iraqi People Speak for Themselves. REAL DEMOCRACY NOT U.S.
APPOINTOCRACY

Tuesday, Feb. 24; 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM On the corner of Corwallis Rd. and NC
Hwy 55 in Durham.

Bring signs and banners. We will have a lively street-side demonstration at a busy intersection followed by dinner and a strategy session beginning at approximately 6:00pm.

Sponsored by: Campaign to Stop the War Profiteers (Institute for Southern Studies), Campaign to End the Cycle of Violence, Duke Against War in Iraq,
Internationalist Books and Community Center, Student Peace Action Network,
NCSU Campus Greens.

*OTHER ACTIONS WILL TAKE PLACE ON CAMPUSES*

For more information, contact Tara Purohit: tara@southernstudies.org

BACKGROUND: What do local Universities -- UNC - Chapel Hill, NC State, Duke and NC Central -- have to do with the occupation of Iraq? More than you think.

In 1958, these four local universities came together to form the Research Triangle Park (RTP) based Research Triangle Institute (RTI).

RTI is a non-profit, research and development institute that strives to turn "knowledge into practice" (www.rti.org). Beyond their role in the incorporation of RTI, local universities continue their connections with RTI through research contracts and through the positions on their governing board held by administrators from these universities.

What is RTI's connection to the occupation of Iraq? On March 25, 2003, only 5 days after the occupation of Iraq, RTI received a contract, through limited bidding, from USAID to implement the 'Iraq Local Governance Project.' The contract awarded is worth $167 million, for one-year, with an option of renewing the contract for 2 more years. The contract is up for renewal this March and the renewal would be worth up to $1.5 million. The stated purpose is to "establish and support local civic councils and institutions of democratic governance in Iraq" (www.rti.org).

Who does RTI report to about their work? Despite the fact that they were awarded their contract through USAID, in reality, RTI reports to USAID in Baghdad who reports to Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and on up to the Department of Defense. This calls into question the role and influence that the CPA and the US military have on the establishment of local governance councils in Iraq.

What does RTI's work in Iraq look like? Through a process of selection, rather than elections, RTI is working with communities to establish local governments and strengthen civil society. These councils MAY then play an important role in setting the tone and power structure of local communities in Iraq. RTI is presenting a dangerous cover, hiding the role of the US military and the CPA in designing the face of local governance in Iraq.

Has RTI had any problems like Halliburton or Bechtel? No, RTI has not had a scandal like Halliburton or Bechtel. But, an October 19, 2003 article in the NY Times reported that USAID's inspector general criticized it for the contract given to RTI because the inspector general said the size of the contract had been set "to justify the available funding rather than an assessment of actual needs."

Although RTI may seem benign in comparison to other corporations involved in the war profiteering in Iraq, they acknowledge that the CPA and Bremer have the final word, even over matters like whether an election is conducted or not. In one case, the CPA reversed a local democratic election in favor of RTI's selection process. Also, RTI claims to have no positions on elections, while they are setting up local governances. RTI needs to take a position on elections if we are to believe that they are not simply a cover for the military and the CPA.

What can I do? Come join the International Day of Action against the privatization of Iraq - Tuesday, February 24th at 4:30pm at the intersection of NC 55 and Cornwallis Rd.
For more information contact: Tara Purohit, tara@southernstudies.org, 419-8311 ext. 25

If you attend UNC-Chapel Hill, NC State, NC Central or Duke or are an alumni of one of these universities, contact the Chancellor and tell them that you oppose RTI's work in Iraq and demand that they pressure RTI to get out of Iraq.

You can also contact Ron Johnson, Senior VP for International Development at RTI at rwj@rti.org

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Total votes: 0

10 Comments

The post does not question

The post does not question the legitimacy of RTI. It questions the legitimacy of the political machinery that RTI is putting into place in Iraq on behalf of the occupation forces. Does RTI do good work? Sure they do. Is RTI's work in Iraq being undertaken in good faith? Probably. That doesn't mean what they're doing is without problems. There is no reason why this shouldn't be a topic of discussion, regardless of how well respected the company is or of how many jobs it provides in the local community or, for that matter, of how manic and hyperbole-ridden the e-mails from the Institute for Southern Studies can be. In any case, here's a link to a related article that I haven't seen mentioned here: http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20040223&s=klein

Dimion, I was true to my

Dimion,

I was true to my principles during the Vietnam War. History has proven what so many of us knew then - that it was a tragic and wasteful chapter in American adventurism, 50,000 plus U.S. soldiers died for nothing, hundreds of thousands of innocent caualties, a war based on lies. What reason did I have to go halfway around the world and kill people?

So I became a conscientious objector, protested the war, and smoked pot. My only regret is that we didn't have more Vietnamese pot available.

Mark

I don't really get the

I don't really get the implied "evil empire" tone of this negative posting; seems illogical and divisive.

RTI is an excellent and respected international company, and it so happens that RTI is located in the triangle; a good thing for us locally, and for those employed here by RTI. USAID is a legitimate organization, hardly a "tool" of the US Military. Stirring up trouble for RTI on its role in the rebuilding process in Iraq seems more of a red-herring to instill a political agenda. It also undermines good faith efforts going on in Iraq, at the expense of those who need help most - - - i.e. the Iraqi people and people employed in the Triangle area.

Let me re-state what you have posted above as RTI's mission, and see just what I can find to oppose in it..."RTI is a non-profit, research and development institute that strives to turn "knowledge into practice" (www.rti.org). Beyond their role in the incorporation of RTI, local universities continue their connections with RTI through research contracts and through the positions on their governing board held by administrators from these universities."

Well, what bothers me enough to go protest this company? Is it the...non-profit part? No...is it the knowledge into practice part? No...is it local university governance? No.

Mmmmh. I'm SO NOT THERE.

What I think we fail to

What I think we fail to fully comprehend is just how fully the war industry has penetrated American society. At this point, nearly all corporations and universities are somehow profiting from DC policies that directly relate to the welfare/warfare state. Thus, we are all hypocrites.

This is precisely why all monies collected through taxation are reprehensible, no matter what how good the cause seems to be--robbing Peter to pay Paul is still fundametally coercive. What we are witnesses is the blowback from all the years of extremely poor policy making within an institutional culture of "government money is always good." I see it every day--otherwise ethical university researchers acting like fiends over federal grant monies. Never once have any of them stopped to consider whether the source of their funding is undermining them morally. What good is it to be anti-war and then go to work at a place that profits from imperialism?

Mark, I assume by your

Mark,

I assume by your question, that you believe I am a leech on liberty and freedom. Did you serve in Vietnam and leave part of your body & soul in a rice paddy? Or did you hang around Chapel Hill in the 60's & 70's and smoke pot?

Best,

dimion

i would like to hear more

i would like to hear more from damion/dimion regarding the substance of the post. my sense of the weblog is that this is to be a new forum for the exchange of ideas. for too long, in my view, citizens on the right and left have spewed out emotionally charged diatribes without any real substance to arguments. i challenge damion/dimion, and "these people" although i'm unclear on who that is, to engage with the ideas here and not just shoot off soundbite drivel. i look forward to it.