Friday, September 23, 2005

Just like Iraq, only different...

As more critical reporting emerges from post-Katrina New Orleans, it's beginning to look more and more like the "reconstruction" effort in Iraq:

"In Iraq, limited accountability, corruption, massive cost overruns, and devastating failures fed the chaotic mess that has followed the 2003 fall of Baghdad. Nonetheless, the largest Katrina contracts have been won by many of the same politically connected companies that oversaw that failed reconstruction. And it is perhaps no coincidence, since many of the same people in the Army Corps of Engineers are awarding them-and in much the same manner: as open-ended, no- or hastily bid contracts with guaranteed profit margins."
- From "Big, Easy Iraq-Style Contracts Flood New Orleans" by Pratap Chatterjee


"As business leaders and government officials talk openly of changing the demographics of what was one of the most culturally vibrant of America's cities, mercenaries from companies like DynCorp, Intercon, American Security Group, Blackhawk, Wackenhut and an Israeli company called Instinctive Shooting International (ISI) are fanning out to guard private businesses and homes, as well as government projects and institutions. Within two weeks of the hurricane, the number of private security companies registered in Louisiana jumped from 185 to 235. Some, like Blackwater, are under federal contract. Others have been hired by the wealthy elite"
- From "Blackwater Down" by Jeremy Scahill

A genuine response to unique and demanding circumstances, or a pattern of self-enriching behavior?


Anonymous said...

What's Mr. Scahill talking about?

These people aren't mercenaries. They're not Hessians out harassing the locals. They just do security ops. They are entirely defensive in nature, and they're helping in the effort to rebuild.

Jason Godesky said...

A mercenary is anyone hired to fight, whether that fighting is defensive or offensive, justified or not, "helping in the effort to rebuild" or "harassing the locals." If the connotation is offensive, that's because of the checkered history of mercenaries, but Blackwater et. al. are most definitely mercenaries. That's not really a valid point of debate. If you want to argue that they represent a new, kinder, gentler brand of mercenary, you can certainly do that (though I don't think the facts will support you much), but that's quite different than the silly argument that "defense contractors" who are contracted to help fight a war are somehow not mercenaries.