Thursday, June 07, 2007

war is a force that gives republicans meaning

Chris Hedges, writing in Sunday’s Philadelphia Enquirer (re-posted to truthout), describes in stark terms one of the most absolutely terrifying possible legacies of the Bush/Cheney war on and occupation of Iraq: the building and empowering of “America’s first modern mercenary army.”

In his piece, Hedges describes how billions of federal dollars have been funneled to private firms with strong ties to the Bush administration and to the Christian right—not just for the 100,000 or so that provide logistical support to government forces, but for 20,000 to 30,000 armed security “contractors.”

American taxpayers have so far handed a staggering $4 billion to "armed security" companies in Iraq such as Blackwater, according to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.). Tens of billions more have been paid to companies that provide logistical support. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.) of the House Intelligence Committee estimates that 40 cents of every dollar spent on the occupation has gone to war contractors. It is unlikely that any of these corporations will push for an early withdrawal. The profits are too lucrative.

Hedges goes into chilling detail about the implications of the rapid growth of this modern-day Praetorian Guard—this armed, extra-legal force—and I strongly recommend you click on over for the full read (though maybe not right before bedtime), but here, let me just couple that article with recent statements by President Bush, his Defense Secretary, a chief military commander in Iraq, and his Ambassador to Iraq, all seemingly designed to ease American opinion toward a place where we accept a more or less permanent occupation of Iraq.

I do not doubt for a minute that many inside the administration know that continued occupation means continued billions to the private contractors. I only wonder if they fully realize what that money will buy.

(My apologies to Hedges for the riff on the title of his 2002 book. I’m thinking he may not mind so very much.)

(cross-posted to Daily Kos)

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