Never thought I’ld make it to the aristocrat class
We have a lot of discussion about the moral hazard of Iraq, related to life (the trump card), but I think we need more discussion concerning the policies related to the flow of money because after all, this is an econo blog. Thus, these two articles. The first one: The Great Iraq Swindle (RollingStone) and the second one: The Mercenary Revolution (The Indypendent).
First, are you an aristocrat?
Both of these are reporting on the extent of privatization that has taken place concerning our security. I’ll get right to my point of the question: We are paying people dirt to do our dirty work. We have collectively become a nation that insulates it’s responsibility for all that is a military involved exercise by buying our war making. We just go to War is Us, sign a contract and wah la, we have the fight’n 9th or 99th or 101 or what ever and no one has to ever worry again about that little question of “did you serve?” Nope, we can now without the risk of harm to our person or our mind bench race our wars. And the race is not about winning the ideologic battle of democracy vs something else. No, it’s about getting yours.
From the first article, The author’s sums it up:
It was an invasion of the federal budget, and no occupying force in history has ever been this efficient.
In Iraq the lines between essential government services and for-profit enterprises have been blurred to the point of absurdity — to the point where wounded soldiers have to pay retail prices for fresh underwear, where modern-day chattel are imported from the Third World at slave wages to peel the potatoes we once assigned to grunts in KP, where private companies are guaranteed huge profits no matter how badly they fuck things up.
This is the triumphant culmination of two centuries of flawed white-people thinking, a preposterous mix of authoritarian socialism and laissez-faire profiteering, with all the worst aspects of both ideologies rolled up into one pointless, supremely idiotic military adventure — American men and women dying by the thousands, so that Karl Marx and Adam Smith can blow each other in a Middle Eastern glory hole.
We’re taking about profiteering at the expense of the commons. It is our budget going to hell. It is our future spent today. It is our children carrying us. To me, it is selfishness to the extreme. It is what I think of with the use of the word aristocrat. That it is done in our name being that we are the government means we are aristocrats in persona.
As aristocrats, we are keeping it close to family:
[Bush] named Jim O’Beirne at the relevant evaluation desk in the Department of
Defense….he sent a twenty-four-year-old who had never worked in finance to
manage the reopening of the Iraqi stock exchange, and appointed a recent graduate of an evangelical university for home-schooled kids who had no accounting experience to manage Iraq’s $13 billion budget. James K. Haveman, who had served as Michigan’s community-health director under a GOP governor, was put in charge of rehabilitating Iraq’s health-care system and decided that what this war-ravaged, malnourished, sanitation-deficient country most urgently needed was . . . an anti-smoking campaign.
Throughout the article there is the theme of exemption, exception, and favoritism. Are these not the means of play by aristocrats? Referring to the Custer Battles company:
The Bush administration not only refused to prosecute the pair — it actually tried to stop a lawsuit filed against the contractors by whistle-blowers hoping to recover the stolen money. The administration argued that Custer Battles could not be found guilty of defrauding the U.S. government because the CPA was not part of the U.S. Government.
A judge set aside the jury’s guilty verdict. Oh the life of an aristocrat.
There is more, read the article. Half way through it is suggested that these activities are a result of a lack of patriotism. But, aristocrats are very patriotic. One might say super patriotic. Are we not?
None of this could take place without the removal of the responsibility for the physical execution of a military exercise via privatization of the military. Why do we not see more protesting? Because we are all allowed to be aristocratic in our relationship to this military adventure. From the second article:
If you think the U.S. has only 160,000 troops in Iraq, think again. With almost no congressional oversight and even less public awareness, the Bush administration has more than doubled the size of the U.S. occupation through the use of private war companies. There are now almost 200,000 private “contractors” deployed in Iraq by Washington. This means that U.S. military forces in Iraq are now outsized by a coalition of billing corporations whose actions go largely unmonitored and whose crimes are virtually unpunished.
The single largest U.S. contract for private security in Iraq was a $293 million payment to the British firm Aegis Defence Services, headed by retired British Lt. Col. Tim Spicer, who has been dogged by accusations that he is a mercenary because of his private involvement in African conflicts. The Texas-based DynCorp International has been another big winner, with more than $1 billion in contracts to provide personnel to train Iraqi police forces, while Blackwater USA has won $750 million in State Department contracts alone for “diplomatic security.”
We’re even paying people outside the military to guard our generals!
What is unique about this period of aristocratic war playing is that the aristocrats are not just hiring out the war labor, but are the company them self and thus as is consistent with aristocratic play, exempt them self and by extension anyone they pay from the hell they create.
We are holding no one responsible.
Dozens of American soldiers have been court-martialed — 64 on murder-related charges alone — but not a single armed contractor has been prosecuted for a crime against an Iraqi. In some cases, where contractors were alleged to have been involved in crimes or deadly incidents, their companies whisked them out of Iraq to safety.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a leading member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, which is responsible for reviewing sensitive national security issues, explained the difficulty of monitoring private military companies on the U.S. payroll: “If I want to see a contract, I have to go up to a secret room and look at it, can’t take any notes, can’t take any notes out with me, you know — essentially, I don’t have access to those contracts and even if I did, I couldn’t tell anybody about it.”
This is not Bush et al alone. He is only the elected executive with an elected board (congress) representing us in our governance of us. So, as he and they act in an aristocratic style, we are too acting in an aristocratic style. Sounding convoluted? Yes, it is what comes of a means constructed to immune one’s self from one’s actions.
The article also discusses the business model for our new privatization of all that is military. It is consistent with what we have discussed concerning globalization. It is referred to as the “branding” of the military, “a hollow company like Nike”. And as would be expected, they are doing it on the cheap by outsourcing the labor. Literally hiring military personal from defunct 3rd world dictatorships.
On so many levels, morally, ethically, what ever you call it, not being responsible for your own actions is wrong. Some may think they are exempt from being labeled an aristocrat because all these aristocratic actions Bush et al are doing are considered to be outside the government by Bush et al. If it were only so easy. Darn government of, for and by the people!
But, let’s consider what we have created with our aristocratic attitude that is more germane to this blog. From The New Yorker, Hendrik Hertzberg reports:
At a forum on foreign policy, Lorelei Kelly, a former Capitol Hill
national-security aide who blogs at Huffington Post and democracyarsenal…
In that connection, she made another point that was new to me. The military-industrial complex produced by the Cold War …was and is able to prosper in the absence of actual fighting. The purpose of piling up all those missiles targeted on the Soviet Union, after all, was to avoid using them. But the kind of privatization represented by the gun-toting Iraq war contractors has created what she called “a live war military-industrial complex”—that is, an industry that depends for its profits, even its existence, on hot wars, wars that kill people. “Free-market conservatives have given us this,” she said. “In conversations with military people, it’s an opening to all sorts of other issues.”
We created this now multibillion dollar, job creating, money making new addition to our GDP — how do we now get rid of it when Iraq is done?