It starts out criticizing elements of the economic system - boring to many by definition but perhaps a little more interesting here in the financial crisis? - and moves on (about 21 minutes into the movie) to discuss examples of how financial tools are preferred by the West (the US) before using the military to gain cheap access to 3rd world natural resources. It's essentially John Perkins, former NSA associate, talking about the topics of his book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man [Official site | Wikipedia | Google Books].
This video is the 10 last minutes of John Perkins talking:
What he says about Iraq:
"Iraq, actually, is a perfect example of the way the whole system works. We economic hitmen are the first line of defense: We go in, we try to corrupt the government and get them to accept these huge loans which we then use as leverage to basically own them. If we fail [...] then the second line of defense is we send in the jackals. The jackals either overthrow governments or they assassinate. And once that happens then a new government comes in and they'll toe the line because the new president will know what will happen if he doesn't. In the case of Iraq both of those things failed [...] so, in '91 we send in the troops and we take out the Iraqi military [...assuming] Saddam is gonna come around. [...] So the economic hitmen go back in in the 90ies... without success. If they'd had success he'd still be running the country, we'd be selling him all the fighter jets he'd want [...] the jackals couldn't take him out again [either] so we sent in the military once again and this time they did the complete job [...] in the process creating for ourselves some very, very lucrative reconstruction deals."
Very much not surprising. But nice to hear from an insider. His conclusion makes me think of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's Empire. Regarding Iraq specifically, we've had some hard-to-believe right wing postulates that the war-for-oil theory is left wing propaganda pointing at non-US (yet Western) companies getting many contracts. First of all, it really doesn't matter as long as these companies supply for the (so called "free") world market. Second, recently U.S. Companies Join Race on Iraqi Oil Bonanza.
Towards the end the movie sums up in some more philosophical discussions (including some hippie stuff). Some of it is undeniable Ecowar cornerstones.
"The most important issue at hand is the intelligent management of the earth's resources. [...] Our true problems in life are technical, not political. [...] Society today is backwards. With politicians constantly talking about protection and security rather than creation, unity and progress. The US alone now spends about 500,000,000,000 dollars annually on defense. That is enough to send every high school senior in America to a four year college. In the 1940ies the Manhattan Project produced the first true weapon of mass destruction. This programme employed 130,000 people at an extreme financial cost. Imagine what our life would be like today if that group of scientists, in stead of working on a way of killing people, worked on a way to create a self-sustaining, abundant world. [...] It is time to unleash something much more powerful: weapons of mass creation."
Of course, just like America is addicted to oil (George W. Bush's own words) it's also addicted to war. At least, shutting down the military would be a mega-shock to the financial system. That is why I enjoyed it very much when in Kim Stanley Robinson's Science in the Capital series the US military is literally battling climate change. Also a topic discussed in the new copy of Ode Magazine: Jim Channon: Mobilizing the military to clean up the earth.
The true battle in the future is not between nations; it’s about repairing the damage we’re doing to our planet. [...] the army must set about reforesting the Earth, planting billions of trees and cleaning up the fresh water reserves. [...] The Marines will protect and restore the dying coral reefs and coastal wetlands while the Air Force monitors carbon emissions, ozone depletion and air pollution. [...] The Navy, Channon says, should be tasked with measuring rising ocean temperatures and melting polar ice as well as policing illegal dumping and overfishing of the seas. [...] siphon excess water from the oceans and channel it into the desert basins of the planet to create enormous salt water lakes [...] transport thousands of refugees from the Pacific Islands to these areas, where they may tend giant new fishponds
These quotes are the visions of retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Jim Channon - who's portrayed by Jeff Bridges in The Men Who Stare at Goats which appears to be a lot more fun than Zeitgeist Addendum.