Dying to Get Paid in Iraq

The issue of Iraq is not one that is only debated in our halls of government. Corporate interests have a heavy say in the war through private contracts vetted by the U.S. military. A recently Los Angeles Times Article (one heavily quoted in this blog) said, “The number of U.S. paid, private contractors in Iraq now exceeds that of American combat troops, newly released figures show, raising fresh questions about the privatization of the war effort and the government’s capacity to carry out military and rebuilding campaigns.” The contracts given for the missions in Iraq were given to private companies with links to the Bush administration in 2003 without a proper bidding process required by law.

Government officials claim that some duties are contracted out because they provide necessary services giving military personal time to engage in combat operations. The problem, of course, is that private contractors, unlike military personal, are not subject to the same rules of engagement and code of conduct the U.S. military is said to enforce. “At one point in 2004, for example, U.S. forces were put on food rations when (contracted) drivers balked at taking supplies into a combat zone.” These logistical contracts are primarily owned by Kellog Brown & Root (a Houston-based oil services company) and its parent company Halliburton Co.

Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention the security contracts held by Blackwater, Triple Canopy and Erinys. “We don’t have control of all the coalition guns in Iraq. That’s dangerous for our country,” said William Nash, a retired Army general and reconstruction expert. Military policy experts report that on several occasions “heavily armed private contractors have engaged in firefights when attacked by Iraqi insurgents.”

This brings to light the question, why are civilians engaging in activities mandated to the military? The answer is, as always, money. Peter Singer, a Brookings Institution scholar said, “This is not the coalition of the willing. It’s a coalition of the billing.”

This ‘billed coalition’ is counter productive to keeping troops safe and getting them home faster. Because they are not subject to any law, they help to create dangerous situations for themselves and U.S. troops. Democracy Now has been following a case against Blackwater whose contractors were brutally killed in Iraq. Jeremy Scahill, author of the New York Times bestseller, “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, said, “We have to remember that when those four men were killed in Fallujah, dragged through the streets, strung up from a bridge, the Bush administration responded by laying siege to the Iraqi city of Fallujah, carrying out some incredible 37,000 air strikes. Hundreds of people were killed. Thousands were displaced from their homes. In many ways, it was the week that the war turned and that the anti-occupation resistance exploded.”

So, as our Representatives on both sides proclaim their disdain for the war and refuse to take substantial action to end it, let us be reminded of the links between corporate and government interests. We cannot allow our leaders to maintain the status quo while people are dying by the thousands, money is wasted, and our reputation as a country is flushed down a million dollar toilet. Find out who paid for you Reps re-election campaign and you just may have some insight into why they consistently vote against the will of the American people. As activists, we are derelict in our mission if we don’t engage this topic in our work.

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6 Responses to Dying to Get Paid in Iraq

  1. GM says:

    It becomes more and more apparent that our government is ripe with corruption right down to the very last politician. Its time we removed them all from office and elected our own choices. Do away with the Electronic voting machines that are too easily controlled and corruptible. I would not be surprised to see a full scale riot in this country in the very near future. If they won’t give us back our government then I say we take it back by force if neccessary.

  2. Barbra says:

    GM — I understand your frustration, but, our democratic system was designed to prevent the necessity of violent conflict. I would rather see a storm of written rebukes hitting the Congressional offices, or a flurry of election activity for a 3rd party (more progressive) candidate. It’s unfortunate that we are in a state where the disgusting behavior of our elected officials is so passively accepted — the pen is our weapon. Let’s use it to take back our country and proclaim the peaceful patriotism we so richly deserve.

  3. Joel says:

    It is worse than stated here. The blackwaters and Cacis, etc. are part of a long campaign by the old white supremacists in the military/law enforcement/prison industrial sub-cult to dominate the world for old fashioned KKK magical thinking. These are the people who covered their ears when Martin Luther King and The Beatles spoke/sang up in the 60’s and set us free.
    They have declared war on humanity in the name of their manifest destiny, and we must bring them to justice and modernity and reeducate their population toward more civilized cultural practices.

  4. Dave says:

    It is rediculous that this sort of violence continues in Iraq and American soldiers die on a daily basis. We have become immune to the death and dying that is happening. We need to all work together so we can once again enjoy the peace and love that we were born to experience. There is only one thing left to do: Let’s drop the bomb and kill all those little towel-headed bastards. Seriously, it worked in Japan in 1945 and it can work in Iraq today. Kill them all!!!

  5. barbpa says:

    Dave,
    You are either crazy or joking. I hope you joking because there is no situation a nuclear bomb can help. The only thing a nuclear bomb brings is MORE death, destruction, environmental degradation, and generations of disease, birth defects, and general tragedy. I am especially dismayed by your use of such an inflammatory and racist word. It is that kind of hate which has forged this war and what will sustain it for years. You, and people like you, are directly linked to the deaths of thousands of Iraqi’s, U.S. troops and citizens. I am not immune to the death of anyone — but it seems you feel it is a laughing matter. Shame on you.

  6. RONALD L. WALDRON says:

    WORLD WIDE REBELLION WELL ON THE WAY :

    “WAR” who are we at war with:

    Al-Qaida, not a Country, not a government, it is
    a terrorist organization. An organization that
    existed in Afganistan. Had training camps and
    head quartered in Afganistan.

    Now, due to the actions of this administration,
    Israel and AIPAC lobby, we are in a Quadmire
    in Iraq. Why? greed for their oil.AND desire to
    control the Middle East threw Israel.To occupy.

    Look at Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan,
    Iran, Syria, Lybia, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.
    (The people of those countries)
    Those government leaders are all close to
    losing control of their people. The people
    now realize that the purpose of USA invasion
    was for occupation, permanent military bases
    and largest embassy in the world. NOT to
    liberate the people and leave on request as
    told by Bush in the beginning. To them and
    the American people.

    The people associate the OCCUPATION, with
    the occupation by Israel of Palestinian lands.
    The people Agree that Palestine has a right of return,
    but now see more and more people in refugee
    camps, with very sub-standard conditions, with
    no hope for assistance.

    Al-qaida located in many countries now, Islam taking
    the blame for all the so called radicals & terrorist.
    HAS grown because those so oppressed have no
    where else to turn to rebell against the atrocities.
    Close to 1,000,000 innocent civilians killed. Millions
    forced to relocate.

    The American people, know we were lied to,
    that our government is not represenative of the
    America we once were. Now and for the last
    six years we have asked for home security,m
    border control. Realizing that terrorist organizations
    exist all over the World, even on the home land,
    and can when they desire to, attack us from many
    different dirrections.

    This government now faces revolution from the
    American people, there has never been a time
    that the American people were so angry due to
    none of the official representatives actually
    represent the PEOPLE, they are there bought
    and paid for by special interest, represent
    corruption, foreign lobbies, organized crime,
    and huge corporations foreign & domestic.

    The Eletus wanting GLOBALIZATION, which will
    never happen. NONE of the PEOPLE of any
    country will allow such. COMPLETE population
    rebellion around the World is on the verge of
    happening.

    THE ” FATIQUE” OF GOVERNMENTS OUT OF CONTROL IS EVIDENT, THE WORLD WIDE WEB
    ALLOWS ALL PEOPLE TO CORRESPOND WITH
    EACH OTHER, AND THEY HAVE BEEN.

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