Notes on a Scandal

No, this post is not about the recent movie bearing the same title, which has recently opened to rave reviews (though I have seen it and I think both Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett are brilliant in the film). Rather, the title is meant to allude to a much more important and timely scandal, the ongoing war on Iraq. Counterpunch recently published a great article by Ismael Hossein-zadeh called The Profits of Escalation: Why the US is Not Leaving Iraq. The article asks the question why, despite widespread acknowledgement that the Iraq war is a failure, does the US balk at the idea of pulling out the troops? You guessed it–because there is too much money to be made. Hossein-zadeh writes:

The fact is that not everyone is losing in Iraq. Indeed, while the Bush administration’s wars of choice have brought unnecessary death, destruction, and disaster to millions, including many from the Unites States, they have also brought fortunes and prosperity to war profiteers. At the heart of the reluctance to withdraw from Iraq lies the profiteers’ unwillingness to give up further fortunes and spoils of war.

Pentagon contractors constitute the overwhelming majority of these profiteers. They include not only the giant manufacturing contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Boeing, but also a complex maze of over 100,000 service contractors and sub-contractors such as private army or security corporations and “reconstruction” firms. These contractors of both deconstruction and “reconstruction,” whose profits come mainly from the US treasury, have handsomely profited from the Bush administration’s wars of choice.

The article goes on to describe the windfall experienced by armaments conglomerates such as Lockheed Martin (mentioned above) and Raytheon (who makes 90 percent of its profits from defense contracts, and whose website boasts that it is “committed to creating dramatic and lasting change through strategic charitable giving,” primarily though its promotion of math and science education and the help of celebrity spokespeople like Mia Hamm, Apollo Ohno, and Tony Hawk. Sick.) Hossein-zadeh also highlights the proliferation of private contractors, thanks to the Pentagon’s tendency to outsource what were once considered military responsibilities, using, of course, US taxpayers’ money.

What is more, these services are not limited to the relatively simple or routine tasks and responsibilities such food and sanitation services or building maintenance. More importantly, they include “contracts for services that are highly sophisticated, strategic in nature, and closely approaching core functions that for good reason the government used to do on its own. The Pentagon has even hired contractors to advise it on hiring contractors.”

Private security contracting, a lucrative and rapidly growing industry, is a good example of the Pentagon’s policy of outsourcing. These contractors operate on the periphery of U.S. foreign policy by training foreign “security forces,” or by “fighting terrorism.” Often these private military corporations are formed by retired Special Forces personnel seeking to market their military expertise to the Pentagon, the State Department, the CIA, or foreign governments.

Though the article does not discuss Aegis Defence Services in particular, those of us familiar with the infamous PMC and the murder of Peter McBride (see also my earlier post, Justice for Peter McBride) know all too well just what sort of things these private contractors and the people who run them will do for money.

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Filed under aegis defence services, Iraq, war

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