Sunday, June 1, 2008

AMERICA PRIVATIZES ITS WARFARE

GALAL NASSAR, AL AHRAM There are now more than 50 private security firms currently operating in Iraq and their number is likely to increase, according to recent reports. Officially their function is to protect vital facilities (from government buildings to oil wells) and important persons (the US ambassador, for example). Some of these companies have special information gathering and analysis departments whose staff has access to state-of-the-art military and security technologies. Global Risks is one such company. Charged with protecting Baghdad International Airport, it has hired for this purpose 500 Nepalese and 500 Fijian soldiers who are apparently the cheapest of the 30 nationalities of mercenaries currently in Iraq.

The existence of these types of firms in Iraq was first brought to public attention by the London Times, which reported in May 2004 that the number of British employees such firms posted to Iraq had doubled to 1,500 since the previous year. Among these employees were former British police, navy and paratrooper officers and soldiers. Iraqi officials at the time admitted to having no idea of how many mercenaries were operating in the country. A year later, former US secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld stated that they were by then in the neighborhood of 100,000 and that they were needed because coalition forces were unable to supply the number of forces necessary to protect foreign diplomats and businessmen. . .

It has apparently become Pentagon policy to hire mercenaries in American wars, despite official denials. According to Peter Singer, a security analyst at the Brookings Institution and author of Corporate Warriors, private companies offering specialized military services for hire played a major support role in most of the wars in which the US was involved in the 1990s, including Somalia, Haiti, Rwanda, the Balkans and East Timor. But this role has increased exponentially in America's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. . .

The firms themselves, the majority of which are American or British owned, offer services ranging from guarding important persons and facilities, and supplying equipment and provisions, to intelligence gathering and actual field combat. The growth of this phenomenon has added a new term to the late 20th century military lexicon. On top of "remote control warfare", "proxy wars" and "pre-emptive war", we now have "privatized war", or war fought or supported by forces and personnel subcontracted from private military firms and who are not subordinate to the official military hierarchy. . .

Soldiers of fortune could also come in handy for operations that fall outside the pale of international law because recourse to them would spare members of official occupation forces from being brought before international courts on charges of crimes against humanity or violating international humanitarian law governing occupation. If Washington continues the pursuit of the American global enterprise, one could well envision an increasing reliance on privatized military forces, or PMFs -- a term that certainly has a more respectable ring than "mercenaries", reflecting a business that has become a legal and increasingly lucrative industry. . .

Not all personnel are British or American; they could just as well be from South Africa, Nepal, Chile, Columbia, San Salvador, Honduras, Ireland, Spain, Poland, Brazil, Israel and, more recently, Russia and Lebanon. . .

Not a few Arabs have signed up with mercenary outfits, which have been linked to some of the most atrocious crimes against Iraqi civilians, and for less money than their fellow mercenaries from other countries. . .

It appears, too, that mercenaries have begun to fill the ranks of the US army itself. So desperate has the US military become that it has recruited more than 35,000 soldiers who are not US citizens. Instead, these recruits possess or have been awarded the much-coveted "Green Card" and the promise of naturalization if they should be fortunate enough to live out their tour of duty in Iraq. . .

1 Comments:

At June 1, 2008 6:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"He is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy of the Head of a civilized Nation."
---Thomas Jefferson Declaration of Independence

 

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