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« Bones | Main | Fleecing the Rubes »

August 22, 2007

Comments

joel hanes

> Iraq being the most fucked-up place there has ever been on the planet Earth.

Effendi is naive about the long, gory history of human cruelty, exploitation, and tribal insanity.
Read _The_Painted_Bird_.
Read _Heart_of_Darkness_.

dan mcenroe

Effendi is naive about the long, gory history of human cruelty, exploitation, and tribal insanity.
Read _The_Painted_Bird_.
Read _Heart_of_Darkness_.

I have. Iraq is Holocaust Poland and colonial Africa with cluster bombs and Bradley Fighting Vehicles.

Buzzcook

I might add that The Painted Bird and Heart of Darkness are both novels.

matt

> I have. Iraq is Holocaust Poland and colonial Africa with cluster bombs and Bradley Fighting Vehicles.

World War II Poland: Population 27 Million, Dead 5 Million.

You desperately need a little perspective. [Not to intentionally insult you, but you and the neo-cons seem to share this problem.] Iraq is an unholy mess, but it is sadly but a blip.

DR

I don't think you can call them mercenaries. They are hired as private security. Are you going to call all private security guards "mercenaries"? The only difference is that these security guards work in a war zone and get paid a lot better.

They haven't been hired to go and kill a foreign army. They are there primarily to protect certain assets, such as utilities or people. For example, their job might be to keep a particular person alive while they conduct business in Baghdad.

I was speaking with a soldier who has a brother who works for one of these security firms. I asked him how dangerous the job was. He said, it is safer to be a security guy then a soldier, because if snipers show up, the security guy has only one job: get their guy to safety, while the soldiers job is to neutralize the sniper.

He stated that the contractors who have the dangerous jobs are the truck drivers. You certainly wouldn't call those guys mercenaries, would you?

Enoch Root

For details, see William Walker.

mdhatter

Maybe it's like Poland at 1/14 th scale, with full sized cluster bombs and pallets of 20 dollar bills.

klein's tiny left nut

There is a fair amount of tension between the private contractors and the regular military. The contractors get paid ungodly sums of money while the regular miliary -- not so much.

I was surprised at some of the jobs that the private contractors handle. A former client of mine was helping to protect Negraponte (for about $500 a day), a job I would have thought would have been handled by the official military.

aimai

Another thing to ask yourself is who has the authority to pull these guys out if we were to pull our troops out? Answer: nobody. They don't answer to the Iraqi government and they don't answer to us. So we've let lose 180,000 armed invaders with no responsibility to the Iraqi people and we have no intention of (and no ability to) rein them in. What is it, really, Bush's plan to create a sardaukar army?

aimai

OK

"I could be a corp'ral into corp'ral punishment
Or the gen'ral manager of a large establishment
They pat some good boys on the back and put some to the rod
But I never thought they'd put me in the

Goon squad"

klein's tiny left nut

OK:

Give us our daily bread in individual slices,
and something in the daily rag to cancel any crisis.

Me_again

Walter Pincus just leaves me wanting much more and the story is horribly incomplete - Jeebus, American journalist sure do suck anymore.

It's as if Pincus holds his readers in comtempt or something.

That said it's this story that should freak us all out.

Lukoil, the major Russian firm, is trying to win back a contract signed and then dissolved during Saddam Hussein's regime, teaming up with Russian state-owned firms and asking the government to help its case.

ConocoPhillips, which owns 20 percent of Lukoil, is also helping out.

Royal Dutch Shell and BHP Billiton, of Australia, are researching the Missan area of Iraq, Business Intelligence Middle East reports. Shell and Mitsubishi are eyeing plans for Iraq's vast natural gas deposits as well.

The China National Petroleum Corp. already received a pledge from Iraq's oil minister to renegotiate a contract signed under Saddam for the al-Ahdab oil field. Any deals that were valid at the time of the regime's fall will be upheld, though they need to be brought in line with a future federal oil law.

I just have to wonder, if Russia and China bring their "mercenaries" too, will they ever leave know how it's their "vital Interest" to stay?

Bush has shown the world how weak American was, and if private contractors are suppose to make the word mercenaries more respectable - it all Bushie and Cheney's doing.

Maliki will be a fool if he doesn't privatize Iraqi oil - and kick the lot of those huge foreign oil companies out. Iraq could get a lot worse.

madamab

I am very tired of living in Bushbotonia, where everything is much, much worse than it appears, and we can assume that nothing the government does is well-intentioned, competent, or sane.

I can has democracy?

Douglas Watts

Iraq is an unholy mess, but it is sadly but a blip.
--
If it is just a blip, then according to your own sociopathic logic, it cannot be sad.

The meme that because "fewer died in your holocaust than mine, yours is nothing more than a mosquito bite and almost laughable" really needs to be put in a drawer in a house that is in a rocket ship aimed at the Sun.

rm

They haven't been hired to go and kill a foreign army.

The regular soldiers aren't being sent over there to kill a foreign army, either.

"Asset protection," like "homeland security" and "enemy combatant," is just a part of our new Orwellian vocabulary.

Sorry for feeding the troll.

dan mcenroe

He stated that the contractors who have the dangerous jobs are the truck drivers. You certainly wouldn't call those guys mercenaries, would you?

I said in the post that not all of the contractors are engaged in combat activities. But OK, I'll narrow the definition: if you're willing to inflict bodily harm on another human being because your client wants you to you are a mercenary. I actually sympathize with the people who have gone over to drive trucks, lured into that hell hole by the combat pay. It's strange that one of the side effects of privatizing the military has been more civilians ending up in harm's way.

Re: Iraq vs. WWII Poland: I mostly referring to the comment about The Painted Bird. Poland was, of course, a nightmare and by no means do I mean to minimze what happened there.

Carl from L.A.

Iraq is the most fucked up place on earth? No, I think that would be 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

OK

"It's all we're skilled in
We will be shipbuilding........
With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls."

klein's tiny left nut

ok.

I was debating between the Pills 'n' Soap couplet and the "diving for pearls" line in Shipbuilding. Nice choice.

I occassionally listen to Tramp the Dirt Down these days and substitute Bush's name for Thatcher's.

michael

since the painted bird keeps getting cited, you should be aware that kosinki was exposed has having fabricated its contents (it was sold for years as autobiographical).
iraq is a horror, notwithstanding.
michael

AdamDanger

I would imagine a far smaller number than the one cited would peg the number of mercs with guns in the country. The average contractor over there is a fast food worker on an American base, a custodian, a truck driver, or a construction worker. Still, I wouldn't say it's crazy to imagine maybe several thousand armed paramilitary dudes. Scary, indeed.

I may be wrong, but didn't the CPA put something in a Constitution-superceding order about contractors being immune to criminal trials in Iraqi courts? Someone straighten me out if not.

DR

Douglas Watts,
What got me labeled a troll by you? Disagreeing with the use of the term mercenary? Talking to a soldier? Did I forget to post my liberal credentials?

Looking in my Webster's New World Dictionary for the word "mercenary" I find this:

1. A professional soldier hired to serv in a foreign army.
2. Any person who will do anything for money. A hireling.

So, no, they are not a mercenary in the traditional sense. Yes, they may match the second definition, but then you are using the term merely as a pejorative.

I'm not defending the payment of these contractors with our tax dollars. However, I wonder how much "tension" there really is between the private contractors and the regular military. The only place I have heard this is from Kos. I didn't get that feeling from my friend, although it was his brother who he was talking about. However, most of the contractors who do security are former military, so I'm sure they have friends who are still in the military.

Kiva Oraibi

Let me do a little math here - there are currently 162,000 US troops in Iraq, along with let's say 100,000 armed mercenaries who are not subject to the Geneva Conventions or the Uniform Code of Military Justice, plus heaven only knows how many insurgents and foreign fighters and armed Iraqi citizens (Saddam's policy was to have every household own an AK-47 assault rifle). Now, we add all that up and it comes out to Iraq being the most fucked-up place there has ever been on the planet Earth.

Wait, how can that be? Conservatives have been telling me for years that armed societies are polite societies!

Aaron

For clarification: a lot of these "contractors" are doing non-combat jobs- meal service, truck drivers. Significant numbers are also handling security tasks such as protecting the maliki government.
And even the truck drivers carry guns. and shoot whoever they feel without consequence.
And yes it's way f--ked up.

Klein's Tiny Left Nut

DR,

I think there was a pretty compelling piece on 60 Minuters detailing the tensions between the military and the mercs, as well as this from a Frontline program:

Warns George Washington University Professor Steve Schooner, an expert on military contracting, "We have tens of thousands of armed contractors in Iraq defending the Green Zone, defending the military, defending contractors… But they're not part of the military command structure." Schooner suggests there can be trouble when private contractors carry weapons and have tactical responsibilities yet aren't getting the same information or direction. Peter Singer, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of "Corporate Warriors" agrees: "There's a bubbling resentment … and you're starting to sense a backlash from the military."

The fact that these private contractors may be ex-military does not mitigate the tensions that occur as a result of the fact that they are A) being paid ten to fifteen times that of a regular soldier and B) they have a distressing tendency to use maximum force whenever in danger, which does not generally win the hearts and minds of the locals.

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