jeudi 26 juillet 2007

Venture capitalists with guns: private contractors in Iraq

Susie Curtiss, Party for Socialism and Liberation

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mercenaries outnumber U.S. troops

The number of private contractors in Iraq outnumbers the number of U.S. military troops by at least 20,000.There are more than 180,000 civilians now working in Iraq under U.S. contracts, according to U.S. State and DefenseDepartment figures. After the recent "surge," U.S. troops number 160,000. (Los Angeles Times, July 4)

Corporations are earning tens of millions of dollars by enforcing the brutal U.S. occupation of Iraq. Peter Singer of the right-wing Brookings Institute commented: "This is not the coalition of the willing. It’s the coalition of the billing."

No single government agency keeps track of the number or location of contractors. In 2006, the U.S. Central Command conducted a census to count the number of contractors in Iraq. It counted approximately 130,000. The total was a gross underestimate. The census did not include private contactors working for the U.S. Agency for International Development or the State Department.

In June 2007, USAID—a CIA front—reported that 53,000 Iraqis and several hundred Americans were contracted to do jobs like collect garbage and "teach democracy." Private security contractors hired to protect government officials and buildings also were not counted in the survey. According to State Department officials, of the 5,000 people "affiliated with the U.S. Embassy in Iraq," only 300 are government employees. The rest are contractors and mercenaries. They are building and protecting the largest embassy in the world.

KBR, the Houston-based oil services company that was once a subsidiary of Halliburton, holds the single largest contract in Iraq. Its mission is to "provide logistics support to troops." Nearly 14,000 Americans work for KBR in Iraq.The most controversial contractors work for private security companies, like Blackwater USA, Triple Canopy, DynCorp and Erinys. They guard "sensitive" sites and provide protection to U.S. and Iraqi puppet government officials and businessmen.

Blackwater alone has received $1 billion in contracts.Blackwater has 2,300 employees deployed in nine countries. Its largest contract is to provide security to U.S. diplomats and facilities in Iraq.The company’s mission began in 2003 when it received a $21 million no-bid contract to protect Iraq proconsul Paul Bremer. Heavily armed Blackwater goons have also protected Bremer’s successors, John Negroponte and Zalmay Khalizad, along with over 90 Congressional delegations.

'Make profits, hide the truth’

The shift to a private mercenary army is part of a massive Pentagon policy overhaul initiated by former Defense Department head, Donald Rumsfeld. It entails increasing the use of private contractors in every aspect of war, including combat. Speaking on behalf of the well-oiled military-industrial complex, Rumsfeld opined, "We must promote a more entrepreneurial approach, one that encourages people to be proactive, not reactive, and to behave less like bureaucrats and more like venture capitalists." (Foreign Affairs, May/June 2002).

Private contractors allow the Bush administration to deploy private forces, while hiding from the public the actual number of combat injuries and deaths and the crimes committed by these forces.

Contractors have been involved in battle against the Iraqi resistance. Yet, they are not subject to military law.

Militarism and military spending are central features of U.S. imperialism.

Between 2001 and 2008, the U.S. government will have spent $3.2 trillion dollars on military goods and services. All of this goes to private corporations, much of it to private contractors in Iraq. Unending military buildup is a crucial part of Washington’s drive to achieve global hegemony. Private contractors are new foot soldiers in the imperialists’ attempts to smash resistance to their anti-worker aims.

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