Congress

Does this count as a market failure?

|

Commenter Happy Jack notes that Kroll Inc. has decided to stop providing security services in Iraq, following the deaths of four employees. AP paraphrases Michael Cherkasky, president and chief executive of Kroll owner Marsh & McLennan Companies, as saying that business in Iraq and Afghanistan "wasn't worth risking the lives of company employees."

Interestingly, the whole private contractor issue continues to boil over stateside. In the close race for Colorado's 5th Congressional District, Republican Doug Lamborn has been waving the bloody shirt at Democrat Jay Fawcett by tying him to Daily Kos' fabled Destroy All Mercenaries comment. Fawcett is trying to put some daylight between himself and the Kossaks, and turn the conversation around to his own service in the USAF. Lamborn, like many a GOP stalwart, knows it's more important to support the troops than to be the troops, which led to an amusing exchange where Fawcett questioned his lukewarm patriotism, and Lamborn responded Frank T.J. Mackey style, by quietly judging him:

During a later break, Fawcett questioned why Lamborn had never served in the military or Peace Corps; Lamborn looked back at him without answering. Fawcett told him that he'd "been stared down by better" and Lamborn replied: "I'm not intending to stare at you."

Fawcett/Lamborn has been a pretty entertaining negative campaign, with lots of "This scum-sucking pig is calling me names" road rage. Read all about it here, here, and here, because attack ads are good for you.

Advertisement

NEXT: The San Francisco Chronicle Goes Pulitzer-Fishing

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “I’m not intending to stare at you.”

    Was he coming on to him?

  2. Isn’t the business of providing security services inherently a little dangerous?

    Not saying they should’nt pull out just wondering why a firm that provides security wouldn’t understand that Iraq is a dangerous place.

  3. Gawd I fucking hate politicians who are so eager to place/keep troops in harm’s way when the bastards never spent a day of their lives in the service. Only veterans should be allowed to start wars. That doesn’t count veterans who went AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard to engage in a 2 yr long cocaine binge.

  4. “private contractors”- are they installing kitchen cabinets? Laying linoleum? hanging sheetrock? Why would THEY get killed??

  5. Ahh, sweet irony. Anyone remember who Jerry Bremer was working for immediately before he took the gig in Iraq? Here’s a reminder:

    http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0204/20/cst.08.html

  6. andy,
    Following up what you said.
    There is a big disconnect for sure, between a President with no battle experience surrounded with Generals who have morphed into politicians/yes-men from military men.
    There needs to be an independent analysis of what a President wants to do. These independent analyzers could do a risk-reward before troops are committed.
    Maybe a Cabinet level Department of Peace could do that? Or, better, a Joint Commission of Congress?
    How about a Supreme Court of Military Strategery?

    Bottom line is, with our present system, it’s just too easy to throw American lives down a rat hole.

  7. Kroll has denied the statement from Marsh’s CEO that they’re leaving Iraq.

  8. Congress has been known to organize a Committee on The Conduct Of The War. Y’know, on the rare occasion it actually bothers to declare war.

    Kevin

  9. Gawd I fucking hate politicians who are so eager to place/keep troops in harm’s way when the bastards never spent a day of their lives in the service. Only veterans should be allowed to start wars. That doesn’t count veterans who went AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard to engage in a 2 yr long cocaine binge.

    As a piece of pure emotionalism, I can understand your point. However, the raw fact of military service says little or nothing about a candidate’s ability to handle “politics by other means.” Arguably, a veteran is more likely to send in the troops in any given situation than a civilian.

    Also, it’s worth pointing out that the USA would currently not exist in its present form if that policy had existed all along. Abraham Lincoln never served a day in the military.

  10. Amendment: Lincoln did serve for a couple of months in the Illinois Militia during the Blackhawk War. Not sure whether that counts–he didn’t see any combat as far as I can tell.

  11. Has anyone seen kwais recently?

    …if a private company can’t get enough people to sign on for a pay rate the company can handle, given the terms of the company’s contract, then, no, that isn’t a market failure. I see a lot of deals where, given market prices, I just can’t justify the costs of doin’ the deal. …so I don’t do the deal. Presumably someone with a competitive advantage does it or the person putting out the contract adjusts their pricing up or maybe, if they can’t get a market return, the person offering the deal just takes it off the market.

    Which is not to say that these guys really don’t want their employees gettin’ whacked. …but I imagine, in addition, as things deteriorate, the cost of doing business goes way up. …as it should. If the cost of fighting can’t be justified, then maybe the war just shouldn’t be fought.

    I’d bet that people are willing to work for much less if they think they’re fighting a war of self-defense. I’d also bet that a lot of the former military who fight under contract in Iraq originally saw the Iraq War that way. …I don’t know if or how many of them may have changed their minds, but if it was me, I think I’d want a lot more money if I didn’t think…

  12. “However, the raw fact of military service says little or nothing about a candidate’s ability to handle “politics by other means.””

    ChrisO,
    No, I think an “insider’s” knowledge of what the military can and cannot accomplish would make a big difference in a President’s strategery.
    There needs to be some sort of high-level military “veto power” for Presidents like Dubya.

  13. It is funny how many Dems running this year seem to be ex-service members compared to their pro-‘pick a country and we’ll bomb it’ Republican counter parts. Maybe I’m wrong, but this story line seems to keep popping up. What is the deal?

  14. Abraham Lincoln never served a day in the military.(note ChrisO’s qualification)

    Neither did James Madison, James Knox Polk, Woodrow Wilson, or FDR.

    As near as I can tell William McKinley and Harry Truman are the only wartime presidents with actual wartime combat experience. Although both LBJ and Nixon served in the Navy in WWII but AFAIK neither got very close to any fighting.

    Generals who have reached the presidency, from Washington to Eisenhower have tended to be cautious about pursuing military solutions. Maybe they know something.

  15. I don’t think the patron Saint Jefferson ever served either.

  16. TWC

    I was about to say that Jefferson was not a wartime president. But then I remembered that he was President when we had that flap with the Barbary Pirates, wasn’t he.

    So, yeah him too.

    Of wartime prezes has anyone other than McKinley or Truman experienced wartime combat?

    I’m not including JFK because I don’t think that Viet Nam had achieved wartime status while he was in charge. We really only had advisors there then.

  17. Lets not forget that GW Bush served in the military as well. So by the chickenhawk standard, he should be a fine wartime president, what with his “insider’s” knowledge of what the military can and cannot accomplish.

    Few thinks mark a person as being irrational as reliably as wheeling out the chickenhawk. Exhibit A:

    There needs to be some sort of high-level military “veto power”. . . .

    I can’t tell for sure, but Ruthless seems to be advocating some kind of military junta for the US.

  18. Lets not forget that GW Bush served in the military as well.

    LOL

    THis is a joke, right? his Texas Air National Guard summer-camp time? That he snuck out of? christ. I hope you’re kidding.

    FWIW – the point is not that leader should have to serve in the forces to wield military decision making power most effectively; it’s that they show their ass when they question people’s ‘patriotism’ when policies are criticised. Especially when those people may be vets. It’s slimy.

  19. “There needs to be some sort of high-level military “veto power”. . . .”
    RC,
    Perhaps I should have said veto power over our military.
    Or, if it would make you feel better, write into the Constitution that a President with no combat experience is prohibited from being Commander-in-Chief.
    That would make me more likely to vote for such a person… assuming I voted.
    … and would help a woman get elected?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.