American merceneries, at what cost?
It’s been revealed that the number of contractors hired in Iraq exceeds the number of US troops there now. That’s right, there’s over 180,000 people on the US payroll in Iraq, including over 100,000 Iraqis. This is bad for so many reasons I hardly know where to start.
However, let’s start with security, since ostensibly this whole mess was supposed to make the USA more secure. How do we know that some of the Iraqi contractors aren’t insurgent infiltrators? Even the tens of thousands of foreign contractors are suspect, since for the most part they come from countries with Muslim populations and no way to really check their backgrounds. These are the people we want building US bases and supplying US troops? I wonder how many are working on the new US Embassy? Anyone remember when the new American Embassy in Moscow had to be torn down and rebuilt from scratch because they used Russian workers in it’s construction? Turns out the Russians had installed so many eavesdropping devices in the walls that there was no hope of ever finding them all, they found one device that had a battery that would keep it functioning for over a century! And it hardly needs to be mentioned, but hidden eavesdropping devices are the least of our worries when it comes to hidden devices in Iraq.
Another problem is the hiring of armed American contractors, a new and unfortunate development in the USA. Yes, our army is now so small that we now hire tens of thousands of American mercenaries to fill out the ranks. I will probably blog exclusively on this topic at some point, we managed to make it through 200 years of history without hiring mercenaries, it’s not a good development for the Republic. In Iraq Bush is still being dodgy about just how many of these guys there are, but over 20,000 is a good guess.
The main problem with these guys is that they are armed and under nothing like military control. In fact they have been given immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law! That’s right, tens of thousands of Americans Rambos are running around with guns, with no fear of criminal prosecution, in a country where the local population is regarded as little more than terrorist towel heads. Think these guys are winning any hearts and minds? Anyone remember the video a few enterprising ones made a few years ago, where they drove around shooting people at random to the sound of heavy metal music? You can bet the Iraqis do.
Even worse, these guys are all ex-military and have now been hired back at a huge increase over their military salaries. That’s right, the USA spends piles amounts of money to train these guys, then they get to retire with pensions and get hired back at vastly increased salaries. There is a word for this. Corruption. And what really annoys me is that the military claims “…contractors cut costs while allowing troops to focus on fighting wars rather than on other tasks.” Let me get this straight, we are hiring private companies and people to perform tasks at a vastly higher salary than the military pays, plus huge corporate profits are being made in the bargain…and this is going to cut costs? There’s a word for this too. Lies. And I’ve just scraped the surface here too. The problems with quality control in the projects built under contract remain rather alarming.
What does it all mean? This shows at the very least that we don’t have enough troops in Iraq, we can’t have our cake and eat it too. We either need to conscript enough people for the army to do it’s job, or we need to cut back on what the army is being asked to do. What really frustrates me about stuff like this is that there’s no good way to understand it. Maybe this is just plain old corruption, and the administration is happy that it’s corporate sponsors are making a mint at public expense. Or maybe it’s just wishful thinking and poor organization, for all I know the administration is still clinging to the belief that things are “just about to get better” in Iraq and this is only a temporary stopgap measure.
Yeah, a stopgap measure that has lasted longer than World War Two. One last thing that concerns me. Do we want private American armies in the USA? The above picture of Blackwater Mercenaries was taken in New Orleans.
(The above partial image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, it is central to illustrating the post, and it is an historically important image. Credit and probable copyright holder: Alex Jones.)