FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Rising Corporate Military Monster

by RUSSELL MOKHIBER And ROBERT WEISSMAN

A corporate military monster is being
created in Iraq.

The U.S. government is relying
on private military contractors like never before.

Approximately 15,000 military
contractors, maybe more, are now working in Iraq. The four Americans
brutally killed and mutilated in Fallujah March 31 were part
of this informal army of occupation.

Contractors are complicating
traditional norms of military command and control, and challenging
the basic norms of accountability that are supposed to govern
the government’s use of violence. Human rights abuses go unpunished.
Reliance on poorly monitored contractors is bleeding the public
treasury. The contractors are simultaneously creating opportunities
for the government to evade public accountability, and, in Iraq
at least, are on the verge of evolving into an independent force
at least somewhat beyond the control of the U.S. military. And,
as the contractors grow in numbers and political influence, their
power to entrench themselves and block reform is growing.

Whatever the limitations of
the military code of justice and its in-practice application,
the code does not apply to the modern-day mercenaries. Indeed,
the mechanisms by which the contractors are held responsible
for their behavior, and disciplined for mistreating civilians
or committing human rights abuses — all too easy for men with
guns in a hostile environment — are fuzzy.

It is unclear exactly what
law applies to the contractors, explains Peter W. Singer, author
of Corporate Warriors (Cornell University Press, 2003) and a
leading authority on private military contracting. They do not
fall under international law on mercenaries, which is defined
narrowly. Nor does the national law of the United States clearly
apply to the contractors in Iraq — especially because many of
the contractors are not Americans.

Relatedly, many firms do not
properly screen those they hire to patrol the streets in foreign
nations. “Lives, soldiers’ and civilians’ welfare, human
rights, are all at stake,” says Singer. “But we have
left it up to very raw market forces to figure out who can work
for these firms, and who they can work for.”

There are already more than
a few examples of what can happen, notable among them accusations
that Dyncorp employees were involved in sex trafficking of young
girls in Bosnia.

In general, the performance
of the private military firms is horribly under-monitored.

Sometimes the lack of monitoring
is a boon to the government agencies that hire the contractors.
Although there are firm limits on the kinds of operations that
U.S. troops can conduct in Colombia, Singer notes, “it has
been pretty loosey-goosey on the private contractor side.”
The contractors are working with the Colombian military to defeat
the guerilla insurgency in Colombia — unconstrained by Congressionally
imposed limits on what U.S. soldiers in Colombia may do.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, a problem
of a whole different sort is starting to emerge.

The security contractors are
already involved in full-fledged battlefield operations, increasingly
so as the insurgency in Iraq escalates.

A few days after the Americans
were killed in Fallujah, Blackwater Security Consulting engaged
in full-scale battle in Najaf, with the company flying its own
helicopters amidst an intense firefight to resupply its own commandos.

Now, reports the Washington
Post, the security firms are networking formally, “organizing
what may effectively be the largest private army in the world,
with its own rescue teams and pooled, sensitive intelligence.”

Because many of the security
contractors work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, as
opposed to the U.S. military, they are not integrated into the
military’s operations. “Under assault by insurgents and
unable to rely on U.S. and coalition troops for intelligence
or help under duress,” according to the Post, the contractors
are banding together.

Private occupying commandos?
Corporate military helicopters in a battlefield situation? An
integrated occupation private intelligence network?

Isn’t this just obviously a
horrible idea?

Given the problems that have
already occurred in places like Colombia and Bosnia, the scale
and now independent integrated nature of the private military
operations in Iraq is asking for disaster, beyond that already
inflicted on the Iraqis.

Making the problem still worse
is that the monster feeds on itself.

The larger become the military
contractors, the more influence they have in Congress and the
Pentagon, the more they are able to shape policy, immunize themselves
from proper oversight, and expand their reach. The private military
firms are led by ex-generals, the most effective possible lobbyists
of their former colleagues — and frequently former subordinates
— at the Pentagon. As they grow in size, and become integrated
into the military-industrial complex (Northrop Grumman has swallowed
a number of the military contractors, for example), their political
leverage in Congress and among civilians in the executive branch
grows.

Over the last decade or so,
the phenomenon of private military contracting has grown unchecked.
We’re now at a precipice, with action to constrain the contractors
about to become far, far more difficult than if the madness of
employing mercenaries had been averted in the first place.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based
Corporate Crime
Reporter
.

Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based
Multinational
Monitor
, and co-director of Essential Action, a corporate
accountability group. They are co-authors of Corporate Predators:
The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Monroe,
Maine: Common Courage Press; http://www.corporatepredators.org).

(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert
Weissman

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 28, 2017
Jordon Kraemer
The Cultural Anxiety of the White Middle Class
Vijay Prashad
Modi and Trump: When the Titans of Hate Politics Meet
Jonathan Cook
Israel’s Efforts to Hide Palestinians From View No Longer Fools Young American Jews
Ron Jacobs
Gonna’ Have to Face It, You’re Addicted to War
Jim Lobe – Giulia McDonnell Nieto Del Rio
Is Trump Blundering Into the Next Middle East War?
Radical Washtenaw
David Ware, Killed By Police: a Vindication
John W. Whitehead
The Age of No Privacy: the Surveillance State Shifts into High Gear
Robert Mejia, Kay Beckermann and Curtis Sullivan
The Racial Politics of the Left’s Political Nostalgia
Tom H. Hastings
Courting Each Other
Winslow Myers
“A Decent Respect for the Opinions of Mankind”
Leonard Peltier
The Struggle is Never for Nothing
Jonathan Latham
Illegal GE Bacteria Detected in an Animal Feed Supplement
Deborah James
State of Play in the WTO: Toward the 11th Ministerial in Argentina
Binoy Kampmark
The European Commission, Google and Anti-Competition
Jesse Jackson
A Savage Health Care Bill
Jimmy Centeno
Cats and Meows in L.A
June 27, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
California Scheming: Democrats Betray Single-Payer Again
Jonathan Cook
Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View
Edward Hunt
Excessive and Avoidable Harm in Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Death of Democracy Both Here and Abroad and All Those Colorful Sneakers
Gary Leupp
Immanuel Kant on Electoral Interference
Kenneth Surin
Theresa May and the Tories are in Freefall
Slavoj Zizek
Get the Left
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia Wants to Reduce Qatar to a Vassal State
Ralph Nader
Driverless Cars: Hype, Hubris and Distractions
Rima Najjar
Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate
Norman Solomon
Is ‘Russiagate’ Collapsing as a Political Strategy?
Binoy Kampmark
In the Twitter Building: Tech Incubators and Altering Perceptions
Dean Baker
Uber’s Repudiation is the Moment for the U.S. to Finally Start Regulating the So-called Sharing Economy
Rob Seimetz
What I Saw From The Law
George Wuerthner
The Causes of Forest Fires: Climate vs. Logging
June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
Stansfield Smith
North Koreans in South Korea Face Imprisonment for Wanting to Return Home
Hamid Yazdan Panah
Remembering Native American Civil Rights Pioneer, Lehman Brightman
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail