No more Wood

Recently released Australian hostage Douglas Wood, currently in Melbourne with his family, is considering a return to Iraq to pursue “business opportunities.”

During a press conference upon his arrival at Melbourne airport, Wood said that he supported the American occupation of Iraq:

“I’d like to apologise to President Bush and Prime Minister Howard for things I said under duress. I actually believe that I am proof positive that the current policy of training the Iraqi army, of recruiting, training them worked because it was the Iraqis that got me out. I am proof positive that the current policies of the Americans and the Australian governments is the right one.”

I am very glad that Wood has been released unharmed and is safely back with his family. But I can’t help but think his belief in the Iraqi occupation is directly linked to his ability to make a buck. Wood may well be a free market profiteer, not unlike many who have flocked to Iraq to earn some quick money. It’s time to stop lionising the man, other than wishing him well.

The proliferation of private, Western contractors is a major source of concern for many Iraqis. Take the example of Zapata, a company commissioned to supervise the destruction and storage of U.S military ammunition worldwide to the tune of US$200 million. These companies lack accountability, to say the least.

Before we start labelling people like Wood heroes, let’s take a closer look at their role in the post-occupation phase and who is really benefiting. Daily Flute blog puts it best: “If profiteer Douglas Wood gets into trouble in Iraq again, what say he pays for the rescue efforts?” And a prediction. The money Wood will receive for appearing on Channel Ten television next week will not be going to the Iraqi people. I’d like to be proven wrong. Thus far, Wood has proven himself to be a lover of money rather than showing any affection for the people he was supposedly helping in Iraq.

UPDATE: Douglas will not be returning to Iraq. Perhaps he can make some money in another occupation zone. There must be some vital jobs in Afghanistan.

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