Obama: Newest CEO of War Incorporated
The following are the final frightening remarks by Jeremy Scahill (author of BLACKWATER: THE RISE OF THE WORLD’S MOST POWERFUL MERCENARY ARMY) on a Bill Moyers Journal interview June 5th. He speaks of an eventual scenario, the way the Military Industrial Complex is evolving, whereby only corporations will wield private armies — militarized corporate/financial institutions wantonly and amorally preying on and devastating the lives of indigenous peoples, without even the cover of nationalistic and/or international law justification:
Well, I think that what we have seen happen, as a result of this incredible reliance on private military contractors, is that the United States has created a new system for waging war. Where you no longer have to depend exclusively on your own citizens to sign up for the military and say, "I believe in this war, so I’m willing to sign up and risk my life for it." You turn the entire world into your recruiting ground. You intricately link corporate profits to an escalation of warfare and make it profitable for companies to participate in your wars.
In the process of doing that you undermine U.S. democratic processes. And you also violate the sovereignty of other nations, ’cause you’re making their citizens in combatants in a war to which their country is not a party. I feel that the end game of all of this could well be the disintegration of the nation state apparatus in the world. And it could be replaced by a scenario where you have corporations with their own private armies. To me, that would be a devastating development. But it’s on. It’s happening on a micro level. And I fear it will start to happen on a much bigger scale.
Scahill reveals that there are 250 thousand contractors fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 50% of the fighting force, and that Barack Obama is continuing the “privatization of war”, though Scahill admits Obama is doing more to implement accountability over contractors than the Bush regime. But there is a 23% increase in armed contractors under Obama in Iraq. And a 29% increase in Afghanistan.
He points out that the U.S. built a “colonial fortress” in Baghdad posing as an embassy, the size of 80 football fields, which will require massive security operation to continue to run. It will be maintained by mercenary contractors henceforth.
He goes on to ask that if Obama seriously means what he said in Cairo about wanting to leave Afghanistan, desiring to end the agony of war and bring our troops home, why is he allocating a billion dollars to build yet another fortress-like embassy similar to Baghdad in Islamabad, Pakistan? Mercenary forces once again will have to sustain this, guaranteeing our ongoing looming U.S. military presence.
Continuing to follow the troubling trail of money, Obama is spending $60 billion for Dubai contractors to expand the prison in Bagram at the same time he is intending to close the Guantanamo one. Hundreds of people to be held without habeas corpus, denied access to the Red Cross, in defiance of international law.
Mr. Scahill explains that increasingly the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are becoming wars of occupation, rather than ones aimed at fighting terrorism. To fight terrorism would be more of a law enforcement operation whereby criminals are tracked down for breaking the law and tried. The entire civilian population is not shocked and awed continuously by military threat and violence of the occupying country in such a case.
He mentions the troubling recent Senate confirmation, a seeming cake walk, of General Stanley McChrystal to become commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
If I might add about General McChrystal, what message does it send to the Afghan people when President Obama chooses a man who is alleged to have been one of the key figures running secret detention facilities in Iraq, and working on these extra judicial killing squads. Hunting down, quote unquote, insurgents, and killing them on behalf of the U.S. military. This is a man who’s also alleged to have been at the center of the cover-up of Pat Tillman’s death, who was killed by U.S. Army Rangers.
Scahill and Moyers also discuss one of the greatest corporate scandals of the past decade, how politically advantaged Halliburton, a corporation formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, was allowed to grossly profiteer from U.S. foreign policy at the same time seriously endangering our troops. Halliburton’s KBR was the “premier” company to service the troops. It provided unclean water and shoddy electrical servicing in 1000s of buildings. The workmanship was so improper it actually caused the electrocution of some of our troops. Scahill points out the corporate media has given this scandal little attention.
You recently wrote about how the Department of Defense paid the former Halliburton subsidiary KBR more than $80 million in bonuses for contracts to install what proved to be very defective electrical wiring in Iraq.
Yeah. The Army hired a master electrician, I read, in some congressional testimony, to review electrical work in Iraq. He’s now told congress that KBR’s work in Iraq was, quote, "The most hazardous, worst quality work he’d ever seen." And that his own investigation, this is not a journalist, this is an employee of the Army, had found improper wiring in every building that KBR had wired in Iraq.
Moyers and Scahill go on to discuss the use of “drones” and how they are enraging the citizenries of all three countries, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Using drones, Scahill asserts, is killing civilians in an indiscriminate way. It is inhumane and creates enemies for the U.S. exponentially. Our U.S. corporate media rarely reports statistics of the deaths of civilians. According to Scahill, 687 Pakistani civilians have been killed since 2006 with robotic drones — in the first 99 days of this year over 100 people were killed.
Lara Logan (clip from CBS, 60 Minutes):
Right now, there are dozens of them [drones] over the skies of Iraq and Afghanistan. Hunting down insurgents every minute of every day. The fight for the pilot is on the video screen. Here a truck full of insurgents in Afghanistan is being tracked by the pilot. When the ground commander gives the order-he first, hitting his target. The trigger is pulled in Nevada. Inside these cramped single white trailers of small offices.
Scahill claims the professed accuracy of the drones by the Air Force is being passionately challenged by the outraged Middle Eastern citizenries.
I recently did an article about "Time" magazine’s coverage of this. They said that the Taliban are using civilians as human shields. And that’s why so many civilians have been killed. Their source for that was an Air Force intelligence officer who was allowed to speak on as though it was a Pentagon press release. I think that this is sick. Where you turn war, essentially, into a videogame that can be waged by people half a world away. What this does, these drones, is they it sanitizes war. It means that we increase the number of people that don’t have to see that war is hell on the ground. And it means that wars are going to be easier in the future because it’s not as tough of a sell.
We are indiscriminately killing civilians, according to the UN Human Rights Council. A report that was just released this week by the UN says that the United States is indiscriminately killing civilians in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world. That should be a collective shame that we feel in this society. And yet we have people calling it the good war.
The "good war"? Well, Obama made clear in his eyes it is the "necessary" one. With the U.S. House passing the War Supplemental/IMF bill this week, our Democratic establishment has clearly defied the mandate of the American people to end the wrong-headed wars in the Middle East. Obama with a status quo Congress continues and enables the war machine to amorally and tragically continue its frightening escalation.
Instead of the collective shame Scahill calls for, our president, our congress, and most of the US citizenry are enablers of further acts of international inhumanity. Ralph Nader seems to have been correct. There is little difference between the traditional Republican and Democratic agendas. They are both corrupt and toxic to the common good of their own citizenry and the family of man and woman, in general.