Jim Hightower points out a piece of the ObamAdmin’s Afghanistan strategy that the White House plays down and the war-happy media rarely seem to notice:
What Obama has not mentioned is that, in addition to soldiers and civilians, there is a third surge in his plan: private military contractors. Yes, another privatized army, such as the one in Iraq. There, the Halliburtons, Blackwaters and other war profiteers ran rampant, shortchanging our troops, ripping off taxpayers, killing civilians and doing deep damage to America’s good name.
Already, there are 71,000 private contractors operating in Afghanistan, and many more are preparing to deploy as Pentagon spending ramps up for Obama’s war. The military is now offering new contracts to security firms to provide armed employees (aka, mercenaries) to guard U.S. bases and convoys. Despite the widespread contractor abuses in Iraq, Pentagon chief Robert Gates defends the ongoing privatization push: “The use of contractor security personnel is vital to supporting the forward-operating bases in certain parts of the country,” he declared in a February letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
What the gentle war secretary is really saying is this: “We don’t have a draft, and I don’t see a lot of senators’ kinfolks volunteering to put their butts on the line in Afghanistan, so I’ve gotta pay through the nose to find enough privateers to guard America’s Army in this forbidding place.”
Hightower goes on to note that the vast majority of security contractors in Afghanistan are not U.S. firms; that the poor performance of DynCorp in training Afghan police officers cost U.S. taxpayers $317 million (you know, DOUBLE the amount of those notorious A.I.G. bonuses); and that Obama is stepping the country’s foot into a giant steamer.
CorpWatch has more on the police training issue, especially DynCorp’s performance and reputation among the people of Afghanistan. Meanwhile Democracy Now! has the temerity to ask Afghans what they want the U.S. government to do for them. What a novel idea!