Terrorism

Private Contractors Save U.S. Soldiers

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U.S. soldiers trapped when bombed bridge collapses in Iraq. Private contractors dig them out:

With a thunderous rumble and cloud of dust and smoke, an apparent suicide vehicle bomb brought down a section of highway bridge south of Baghdad on Sunday, wounding several U.S. soldiers guarding the crossing and blocking traffic on Iraq's main north-south artery.

There was no immediate U.S. Army confirmation on the number and severity of the casualties. An Iraqi civilian also was injured, said Donald Campbell, of the private security Armor Group International, who helped in the rescue.

Campbell and others in a passing Armor Group convoy worked with a U.S. Army quick reaction force for some 45 minutes to pull trapped men from the rubble, scrambling over the fallen concrete….The Armor Group team climbed up with first-aid kits, stretchers and other aid.

Via Fark

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  1. Don’t ever say no one ever reports the good news from Iraq.

  2. Oh my, what a giant and deep metaphor this is for the quagmirey quagmire this situation has become where the mercenaries of HalliBlackWaterton are….

    yawn.

    Good job, guys. Glad you were there at the right time.

  3. The non-asshole part of me hopes casualties are low, and feels terrible for those who were injured and killed.

    The other, larger part of me just wants to post this:

    If only the Boston PD had been there to remove the LED Mooninite from the bridge support before it was too late, this tragedy could have been prevented.

  4. I wonder what the reaction from Armor Group would have been if it were just Iraqis trapped. I bet they would have at least reported the problem.

  5. Just out of curiosity, why is “private contractors” the preferred term for mercenaries nowadays? Does mercenary sound too, like, aggressive or something?

  6. Just out of curiosity, why is “private contractors” the preferred term for mercenaries nowadays?

    Because the term “mercenary” would be incorrect. A mercenary is a person from another country, preferably neutral to the outcome. In other words, their only motivation is money. A “private contractor” (in theory anyway) from America would have more motivation than just money.

  7. We should just privatize the military. Haliburton would have done a much better job of securing Iraq than these government types have done. A large private army could go after lucrative targets without having to worry about doubting Debbies wringing their hands over collateral damage. If Al Qaeda knew it was the profit motive that was after it, it woiuld realize the jig is up. It’d be Rambo Fuckin’ City!

  8. I don’t think I would say a mercenary is neutral to the outcome. They are hired by someone, and fight for that side. We hired them, they fight for us. If Iran hired them, they would fight for Iran. Maybe neutral before they collect a check.

    The only reason ANY company including Blackwater or Armor Group IS money. Tell them they can’t collect a check and see if they will still provide services. They are not a non profit company.

  9. Sez the Geneva Convention:

    Article 47.-Mercenaries

    1. A mercenary shall not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war.

    2. A mercenary is any person who:

    ( a ) Is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;

    ( b ) Does, in fact, take a direct part in the hostilities;

    ( c ) Is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party;

    ( d ) Is neither a national of a Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict;

    ( e ) Is not a member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict; and

    ( f ) Has not been sent by a State which is not a Party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces.

    So by (d), they’re not mercs. Now I’m curious; are there any, say, Germans working for Blackwater?

  10. Whatever. They’re mercenaries, and overpaid ones to boot.

    We’ll see how much you all like these mercs when they’re patrolling US cities after a catastrophic disast..ah..oh, nevermind.

    Blackwater should be nationalized for their Fallujah stunt alone. I can’t wait until the ATF raids their little James Bond compound in NC on weapons charges – although they would likely need the assistance of the National Guard.

    Oh, the constitutional crisis possibilities are endless.

    V

    (ducks)

  11. Sponsors of private armies should be arrested as traitors. I know some of you guys want “competitive militaries” and “competitive police forces” and nonsense of that kind. In practice that would be nothing more than petty feudal tyrannies.

    No state that utilizes the services of condottieri of this kind does so in safety. The last time these savages got out of control it only took, oh, a millennium to get the genie back in the bottle.

  12. On an individual level, I understand that the vast majority of private contractors in Iraq (at least those who are US citizens) are patriotic guys who have served in the US military and jumped to a contractor for a variety of personal reasons. But they are patriotic guys who want to serve in the conflict on behalf of the US.

    Those guys don’t bother me at all.

    What does bother me is the existence of a network of companies that only make money during war. The Cold War military-industrial complex, as inefficient and bloated and repugnant as it was, generally made money with or without a war. In fact, they probably made more money when there wasn’t a ground war, because the people who sell submarines and anti-aircraft missiles don’t generally sell body armor and rifle ammunition and whatnot. But these companies only make $$$ in a war.

    When our involvement in Iraq ends (or at least gets significantly reduced), the vast majority of the guys serving with contractors will come home and live their lives. But the leaders of those companies will need something to do so they can make money. Corporate security gigs will pay OK, but they won’t deliver the same $$$ as an active war. If the US won’t provide them with a war, somebody else will. If their former employees (by and large patriotic Americans) won’t join up, somebody else will.

    And if they wind up making a mess overseas, Uncle Sam might clean it up. Well, if we do have to clean it up, at least we’ll have the advantage of being able to hire contractors with local expertise….

  13. “I can’t wait until the ATF raids their little James Bond compound in NC on weapons charges”

    And what charges would those be? First, they came for companies I don’t like on unconstitutional weapons charges, and I said nothing, because it wasn’t me…
    You know the rest.

  14. for a variety of personal reasons

    “sweet ass Audi” IIRC the article in the Reno paper correctly.

    What do you think about Blackwater suing the families of the dead contractors? Pretty ballsy, eh?

  15. Ya know, I gotta ask: so what?

    Blackwater and the other mercenary groups aren’t free market institutions.

    “Hey, one group of people who are recipients of money that was stolen from you helped another group of people who are recipients of money stolen from you.”

    It warms my heart. You might as well post about different factions of Al-Qaeda helping each other out, except that Al-Qaeda never stole anything from me and the region in concern is not a mess primarily because of Al-Qaeda’s aid.

  16. guys

    take it easy. Try avoiding the knee jerk thing for a few minutes. YES, it’s an opportunity to debate public vs private ‘whatever’, but the story you’re discussing is basically a metaphor – the reality of the story is probably just the fact that they were the first capable force on the scene.

    “Campbell and others in a passing Armor Group convoy worked with a U.S. Army quick reaction force for some 45 minutes to pull trapped men from the rubble, scrambling over the fallen concrete.””

    they were passing by. the US had their own QRF on scene as well. the Armor guys helped.

    what does it say about anything, really, other than “Iraq is [still] a total clusterfuck?”

    not much.

    What does bother me is the existence of a network of companies that only make money during war

    These guys make money outside of war. Depends on what type of org you’re talking about (infrastructure development? Logistics? security?)

    these guys are principally security

    http://www.armorgroup.com/services/

    http://www.armorgroup.com/files/financialreport/7938/2006_Report_and_Accounts.pdf

    And they’re british, FYI. That might undermine above guys point about Mercenaries…sorta… but whatever. I’m reading their annual report…

    “Increasing convoy protection activity=
    Logistic convoy protection became the
    Group’s biggest source of revenue in Iraq
    during 2006. The Group has over 1,200
    employees and 240 armoured vehicles in
    Iraq and in 2006 carried out 100 missions a
    month protecting logistic and reconstruction
    convoys across the country.”

    In iraq, they protect both mostly non-military assets in transit to take burden off of US active combat forces, to let them go out and patrol more… which isnt a bad thing. If we were using them to storm buildings?… different story

    they do other stuff too, apparently. They worked on katrina recovery. They say iraq related stuff is 46% of revenues for 2006. Although most of that is supporting UK forces. US Gov as client is apparently only 10% of total revenues. “Construction/logistics” work is closer to 25%. So, they’re not precisely ‘war dependent’. There are plenty of dangerous fucked up places in the world these guys can find work.

    like… new orleans 🙂

  17. Daily Kos will probably say fuck those contractors too.

  18. Fluffy said:

    Sponsors of private armies should be arrested as traitors. I know some of you guys want “competitive militaries” and “competitive police forces” and nonsense of that kind. In practice that would be nothing more than petty feudal tyrannies.

    What do you mean by “sponsors”?

    What do you think of this article?

    No state that utilizes the services of condottieri of this kind does so in safety. The last time these savages got out of control it only took, oh, a millennium to get the genie back in the bottle.

    I assume you’re referring to the destruction of the Roman Empire. Don’t you think that the overwhelming levels of taxation, widespread slavery, and the creation of what would become the feudal system had a bit more to do with that than mercenaries?

  19. When I was young and could actually do more than one push up a few of us were tentatively recruited to go fight for the Israelis. I swear, I am not kidding around. I would have took the deal too, because when you’re 22 you can’t get killed and these guys were talking serious money, and boy howdy, they’d even buy you a round trip ticket to Tel Aviv. Plus, I like the Jews anyway so I didn’t have any qualms about fighting for them. But, as you all know, the Israelis don’t screw around and before you could say where do I sign? the war was over.

    My little brush with adventuring that never happened.

  20. TWC =

    ’67?

  21. TWC and Gilmore –
    Yeah me too, 1967. I was 20 – had a pilot license about 150 hours total time and a Jewish relatives on my mother’s side. I called the Israeli embassy to volunteer to fly for the IAF, they said “Thanks for your interest; don’t call us we’ll call you.” They still haven’t called.

  22. 1. What thoreau said. Freikorps.

    2. Completely off-topic, when I was about six my father had a graduate student who had been a real mercenary for the French government in Indochina in the early 60’s, paid to escort colonial families out of what became Laos and Cambodia. (Yes, Cambodia was its own country. Still had a lot of French planter families.) After that gig ended he did some unspecified work in Thailand for unspecified people. Came home after Tonkin, got a job as a bouncer in a bar while going to undergrad, and was nearly killed by a drunk driver in daylight. Still, very tough guy. Dad hired to babysit me.

  23. …and they say contractors shouldn’t be over there. See!

  24. Joe,
    They mostly don’t. But then good news today could be moot tomorrow.

    Jake Boone,
    I don’t get it.

    Warty,
    Yeah they have all sorts of nationalities doing gunman work. Canadians, various Europeans, Fijians, Sri Lankans, various Latin American nationalities. The Armor group convoy was probably a mix of Brits and Fijians.

    Vincente
    what should the market price be?
    Also the ATF trains at the Blackwater compound in North Carolina, so they wouldn’t really have to raid the place. Not that they raid people that they need to anyways.

    Dr T
    A lot of companies are going to make money off the war regardless. Unless you try make it illegal to do so. Then you would probably make things worse.

    Dave W
    The audi is paid off.

    Nasik,
    Good article.

  25. Fluffy wordy wrote: “Sponsors of private armies should be arrested as traitors.”

    Yes, like those awful Flying Tigers! Arrest them all. Put them all in jail. Arrest the traitors. Wait a minute. The sponsor was the US Government, before the US was in the war. So FDR, while running for his third term promising peace and neutrality, was really the sponsor of the Flying Tigers, and Chennault was paying the volunteers bonuses for every plane shot down with US Government money. FDR wanted us in the war. Impeach FDR. Is that what a traitor is? I thought they were heroes.

  26. Well, I am all about impeaching FDR.

  27. So about the ATF guys (actually I think they are BATFE now). There are the guys who are gunmen, like the ones you saw at Waco. The wear the kevlar helmets, and bullet proof guys.

    They are actually on an individual level pretty cool guys. They don’t know or care about most the laws they enforce. I remember a Blackwater guy asking one a question about some of his firearms, and the BATFE guy said he didn’t know, he wasn’t involved in that part of the process.

    Then there are the pencil neck geek guys, who know the laws and regulations. Those guys show up at Blackwater, not connected at all to the ninja guys, and they check out Blackwater’s books to make sure that Blackwater is following all the necessary regulations. And those guys are because they have their own lawyers and such that make sure that they do, it would cost them money to be in violation of any ordnance.

    So you have BATF guys who bust down peoples doors back at home for reasons they don’t know or care about, for money.

    And you have contractors overseas, who are patriots, who believe in what they are doing.

    Who of those two is really the mercenary?

  28. “Just out of curiosity, why is “private contractors” the preferred term for mercenaries”

    Mercenaries and private contractors have different rules of engagement and different command chains in the field. Private contractor is a more inclusive term. Often, Pvt. contractors act as security forces, which is defensive and protective. Also, all US soldiers are paid and are volunteers. Yet, not all would have to be serving from a sense of national purpose, and not all are US nationals, yet they are not mercenaries. Serving is a vehicle to citizenship. Mercenaries can NOT be nationals (of either the US, Afghanistan, or Iraq in this case) and must be motivated by gain. Thus, the US citizens cannot be called mercenaries regardless of their reasons for fighting. Private contractors may be primarially motivated by gain, but may also have sympathies with the cause of the employer, as well. Of course, one can use any word wished for whatever purpose wanted to color the subject as needed.

  29. Jake’s rear end talking: “If only the Boston PD had been there to remove the LED Mooninite from the bridge support before it was too late, this tragedy could have been prevented.”

    Keep using the mouth as well, Jake. Next time there is a suspicious object left somewhere, the Boston PD will gladly let your bigger asshole part go check it out to see if the bomb squad needs to come. You might get it blown off, though. Walking up on something unknown and out of place can be scary. But, if it isn’t you or me feeling the fear, I guess it is funny.

  30. I know some of you guys want “competitive militaries” and “competitive police forces” and nonsense of that kind. In practice that would be nothing more than petty feudal tyrannies.

    Franchise opportunities available!

  31. The audi is paid off.

    Keep us posted if you decide to move up. There are a lot of really, really nice cars. Make sure to get one with a windsheild. 🙂

    If their former employees (by and large patriotic Americans) won’t join up

    T., I would like you to meet “The Wine Commonsewer” and “KD.” Proud, patriotic Americans who are (well, were) willing to serve a foreign power in a mercenary capacity. You may have seen “The Commonsewer” around here before as he is something of a regular here at HnR. He has a nice wine blog, which you can see by clicking on his sig link if you want to learn more about the US citizen mercenary mindset. As you can see from “Commonsewer”‘s and “KD”‘s explanations, often the decision to try to serve as a proud US citizen mercenary working for a foreign country comes down to religious reasons.

    I am not sure what Guy Montag would say. From some of his entries here at the HnR, I think it is more of a race thing for him . . .

    I mean racing cars of course (lol):

    http://journals.aol.com/thebookofcharger/TheBookofCharger/“>Rallye Charger

  32. Walking up on something unknown and out of place can be scary. But, if it isn’t you or me feeling the fear, I guess it is funny.

    I apologize, Mayor Menino. I didn’t realize you read Hit & Run.

  33. knock knock,

    Shouldn’t your nickname be “no knock?”

  34. Interesting that it counts as news that private contractors in Iraq actually did something useful for the six-figure tax-free salaries they’re each getting?

    That’s not a good sign.

  35. I didn’t know they were tax free. Is that true?

  36. kwais-

    That’s a valid point. I guess there’s a history of war always being profitable for somebody.

  37. Who of those two is really the mercenary?

    The ones who are shooting Iraqis dead in order to make money for the multinational oil companies. The ones who are teaching Iraqis how to shoot other Iraqis dead, and giving them guns, for the sake of keeping that oil flow going.

  38. I didn’t know they were tax free. Is that true?

    I can’t say I’m 100% sure of this, but I’ve read several times from various sources that contractors in Iraq are exempt from Federal income tax.

  39. Also, all US soldiers are paid and are volunteers.

    This reminds me: along with the contractor/mercenary question is that of why we call our professional soldiers “volunteers”, aside from the fact that it sounds more noble?

  40. This reminds me: along with the contractor/mercenary question is that of why we call our professional soldiers “volunteers”, aside from the fact that it sounds more noble?

    To distinguish them from draftees. Really – that’s all there is to it.

  41. I can’t say I’m 100% sure of this, but I’ve read several times from various sources that contractors in Iraq are exempt from Federal income tax.

    Jesus H. Christ! I hate to break a Commandment like that, but Jesus H. Christ!

  42. I believe US soldiers in Iraq are exempt from US income tax, and foreign contractors in Iraq are exempt from Iraqi income tax (flat rate of 15%, last I heard). Not sure I could substantiate a claim that US civilians in Iraq are exempt from US income tax.

  43. Not sure I could substantiate a claim that US civilians in Iraq are exempt from US income tax.

    Ya know, maybe Katherine Mangu-Ward could look into that issue of interest and report back, instead of doing dumb entries like the present one.

  44. Nasikabatrachus –

    I’m not asserting that the use of mercenaries caused the fall of the Roman Empire. [With all apologies to those historians who find the whole concept of a “fall” misleading.]

    I’m saying that the widespread use of private armies, both arising from the systems of personal loyalty that held together the Germanic tribes and the systems of private protection provided by large Roman and GalloRoman landowners as the Empire fell apart, essentially created the feudal order. The western empire probably would have been defeated even if mercernaries weren’t in general use – but that general use played a dominant role in determining the shape of the successor society.

    There’s a tipping point reached when the private protection systems start to overwhelm the public ones. At that tipping point, it becomes unsafe to remain outside one of the private systems, so there is a race among individuals to “commend” themselves to the right strongman. At some point in the process the providers of private protection look around and realize there’s no one left strong enough to prevent them from turning their “clients” into the practical equivalent of chattel slaves.

  45. To distinguish them from draftees. Really – that’s all there is to it.

    Of course, I forgot about all the draftees serving in the miltary today.

  46. Ya know, maybe Katherine Mangu-Ward could look into that issue of interest and report back, instead of doing dumb entries like the present one.

    Dave wins the thread. Although let’s be fair to KM-W as this entry is at least an improvement over her infamous “Goverment sucks because Medicaid doesn’t pay enough” post of a few weeks back.

  47. In the absence of other information, I would assume that US employees of contractors in Iraq are subject to the same exemption as US citizens who live and work in any other foreign country. Of course there may be a different policy for Iraq, other war zones.

    Of course, I keep wondering if I am the only one who wonders about the fact that the US is practically alone in the practice of collecting taxes on the earnings of citizens who are residents of foreign countries.

  48. Of course, I forgot about all the draftees serving in the miltary today.

    It’s a holdover term from when there were.

    Also, neither you nor I are authorized to declare thread winners. We have to let the professionals do that. We should just wait for the results from the International H&R Thread Judging Committee.

  49. It’s a holdover term from when there were.

    I know, but these days it’s used to either remind us that we don’t need to feel bad for dead or mangled soldiers or to remind us that our soldiers are really noble. Depending on the situation.

    Either way, it’s an incorrect and misleading term.

  50. I know, but these days it’s used to either remind us that we don’t need to feel bad for dead or mangled soldiers or to remind us that our soldiers are really noble. Depending on the situation.

    Either way, it’s an incorrect and misleading term.

    I agree completely. It’s really stretching a term to call guys on involuntary extended tours “volunteers.” In fact, the minute you get on that bus to go to basic training, you aren’t really a volunteer any more. You were a volunteer… now you’re an indentured servant.

  51. Numbnuts (you know who you are) =

    Contractors working in Iraq are exempt from *Iraqi* income tax. Not US Federal Income Tax.

    The ones who are shooting Iraqis dead in order to make money for the multinational oil companies. The ones who are teaching Iraqis how to shoot other Iraqis dead, and giving them guns, for the sake of keeping that oil flow going.

    Numbnut #1

    What do you know about the state of Iraq’s oil production 2003-2007, and whether it’s benefited/harmed ‘multinational oil companies’.

    Really. What do you know about it?

    Nothing.

    Before we invaded, Iraq was putting out 2.8m barrels a day. Post invasion, it’s around 1.2m a day. By your [il]logic, Big Oil should have conspired to keep saddam in power.

    Unless of course the conspiracy was to INFLATE the price of oil… which, when you do the math, is bullshit too. Even if all of Iraq’s oil were flowing free, it would have an effect of 1-2% change in costs. When you factor in the 100s of billions of money we’ve spent so far, and the billions more in damage to infrastructure caused, all the ‘profit’ of this adventure vanishes into the red.

    Your little fantasy world can only works if you remain willingly ignorant of the details

  52. In the absence of other information, I would assume that US employees of contractors in Iraq are subject to the same exemption as US citizens who live and work in any other foreign country.

    Roughly speaking, you get to credit the foreign income taxes you pay against what is due in the US. Again, speaking roughly, when the foreign country charges more income taxes than the US, then you don’t pay the US.

    If that rule applied to contractors living in Iraq, then they would be paying considerable income taxes and helping to defray the cost of that war. It sounds like they are not. Ridiculous. Unfair.

  53. Before we invaded, Iraq was putting out 2.8m barrels a day. Post invasion, it’s around 1.2m a day. By your [il]logic, Big Oil should have conspired to keep saddam in power.

    1.2m barrels owned and controlled by big oil is more profit for big oil than 2.8m barrels not owned and controlled by big oil. 1.2M barrels owned and controlled by big oil now, with another 1.6m barrels to be owned and controlled by big oil in the future (eg, during Hillary’s 8 years) is an even better deal for big oil because those 1.6m barrels will be sold in the future at a higher profit margin than they would be sold if sold right now.

    I mean, duh.

  54. In fact, the minute you get on that bus to go to basic training, you aren’t really a volunteer any more.

    I would say it depends on whether you signed up for the good war in Afghanistan or the imperialist one in Iraq. If you signed up for the Iraq War, then you should have realized, even at 18 years that there is “no honor among theives.”

  55. Asshole =

    1.2m barrels owned and controlled by big oil is more profit for big oil than 2.8m barrels not owned and controlled by big oi…

    Correction: Owned by the Iraqi government, all funds of which are monitored by Development Fund for Iraq. What do you mean “owned”??

    Your whole premise dave is that some fictitious cabal of oil companies is cackling with glee over the windfalls created by the Iraq war.

    The problem is that a) the Iraq war has not produced ANY benefit to ‘oil companies’, and b) any benefit you might be able to theorize is already offset by massive problems created by the war. Lastly – imagine Iraq, sans sanctions, sans war = basically, go back in time to 2003. If the sanctions were lifted, and Saddam were allowed to do deals with the oil companies, they’d be doing EXACTLY the same thing… they need to sell the shit as much as anyone needs to buy it. And who the hell else is going to buy it other than “Big Oil”. Is there some other “Oil” you had in mind? Hippy family-farm oil? And American companies dont benefit much more than anyone else = russians currently buy Iraqi oil through middlement. The french are still griping about recouping on contracts they signed with saddam. Your whole argument doesnt make any sense when you look at the details. There is no particular advantage to the oil economy by occupying Iraq. The temporary ‘loss’ of access to these oil fields by war has been a complete negative. Creating a pretend world where “they benefit” sounds nice, but isnt real.

    The PSA’s they are trying to sign in the Iraqi govt are cast often as the big windfall for Big Oil. Until you realize that they can’t probably be implemented for another 20years, since the fucking region is going to be blowing itself to bits for the forseeable future. The accusation is that the terms of the deals are too long. Do they expect BP to be building wells in the midst of this shit? Forget about it. Any of the speculation of the long term profits to be gleaned from Iraq all forget to take into account that a) it would have been faster and more profitable to buy oil from the fucking dictator, and that b) the war has made Iraq’s productivity doubtful for the next decade or more. Way to go Blood for Oil! If that was the objective, we fucked it up pretty bad.

  56. Geez, you are naive as T. is — and that is really saying something.

  57. Good comeback

    Show me your blood for oil math, and maybe i’ll take you seriously

  58. Hang on, let me just go to Chevron hq and grab the books. Would you like me to depose the CEO, too, while I am at it?

  59. For Dave W., “does not buy into my vast, sweeping conspiracy theory” = “naive”.

    You don’t need conspiracies and cabals to explain the world today. You just need incompetance and cover-your-assism.

  60. Hey Dave W,
    Even if what I do does benefit big oil. I don’t do it for big oil I do it for my country.

    I am 100% sure that the Iraqis that I trained don’t do what they do for big oil either.

    If your stupid little corn syrup fantasies benefited big oil would that make you a mercenary?

  61. The guys that helped the US soldiers don’t pay any US income tax. They are Brits, they are already over taxed by their government.

  62. Dave,

    dont be obtuse.

    Explain to me why we’re spending $100s of billions to “control” (we dont, and wont) what is currently $10bn a year, expected to grow to 50-60bn a year….at best, 20 years from now.

    And the majority of the ‘profit’ from the oil goes to Iraq, to be funneled into more development for extraction.

    Show me how the Blood for Oil concept is a “bargain”.

    Right now, if you do the numbers, it makes no sense. We’ve already thrown more money down the toilet with no hopes of ‘recouping’ the money through out (nonexistent, fictitious) “control” of their oil supply… Even if we DID, it would take 20-30 years of ‘extorting’ to get back what we’ve already spent. To get to BREAK EVEN. THEN, maybe 20yrs after that, we’d make ‘profit’ on the adventure.

    i might add, if we in theory “controlled” Iraqs oil, and started dumping new supply on the market, there would be immediate competitive reaction by OPEC and all the other producing nations, and the price war would cause instability that would be more damaging, long term, than any new supply opening up.

    The point is, there is NO conceivable scenario for saying the US invaded iraq to “profit from their oil”. The numbers dont make sense.

    Now, of course we invaded partly because we didnt like the idea of Saddam controlling all that oil, and using the revenues from it to fund his regional ambitions, but that has nothing to do with a profit motive. We just prefer to buy our gas from people that arent our clear enemies. But thats just common sense, not some conspiracy.

    FWIW, I opposed and still object to US presence in Iraq, but not for the silly No Blood For Oil/Teh CORPORSHUNZ!! bullshit that people throw around.

  63. correction

    ” through our (nonexistent, fictitious) “control””

  64. Some stuff that might help, Dave –

    Salon did a piece on the myths/reality of what “Big Oil” does and doesnt want

    http://dir.salon.com/story/news/feature/2003/02/25/oil/index.html

    Snippet =

    …”And yet by any hard economic analysis, “No blood for oil” is an oversimplification, a deceptive brew of reality and myth. The oilfields of Iraq are indisputably a prize. They are the second-biggest oil reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia’s. But from the point of view of the oil industry and the world oil market, war may be the worst way to exploit those reserves. And in some scenarios envisioned by oil-market economists, “liberating” Iraq’s oil could have harsh consequences not just for Saddam Hussein but also for Exxon Mobil, Chevron — and the global economy.

    “The U.S. oil companies have been conspicuously silent on the prospect of an Iraq war, but I would expect the oil men are saying, ‘Hell no, don’t go,'” says Lewis Snider, a professor at the Claremont Graduate University in California who often writes on how Middle East politics affects U.S. energy security. “I don’t believe the present Bush administration is cranking up a war for oil. I think this war would be fought in spite of what’s good for the [U.S.] oil industry.”

    seriously. Try just a little. It only hurts at first.

  65. “for the sake of keeping that oil flow going”

    The war is about oil, as was the first Gulf War. We don’t go into countries without resources this strongly. Oil is a prerequiste, let’s say, as location would be, and Iraq has both. Now it makes sense that Bush ONE stopped when he did, doesn’t it. Of course, this was to be the finish to that war.

    The main reason this war is a BAD war is that we are not winning. We aren’t losing, just not winning. We are losing 2 soldiers a day, and more wounded. Some day we may wish we could be back in the region, holding the country for even for that price. The enemy would now swap positions with us any day. The enemy is on home court, has greater will and individual cause. When Afghanistan goes south, and it will, the moaning and groaning will be about it being a bad war. Remember what a champion Bush was after 9/11 and after taking Afghanistan with such ease? We were supposed to lose 10K men and still lose the war. Some wanted to treat 9/11 as a police matter. That war satisfied some of the 9/11 itch.

    IF Bush’s dream had come true and Iraq were today pushing out double the pre-war oil, had paid for the war, gas prices were still a buck and a half, plus other surrounding states were reforming out of fear and hope, and if the Iraqs were living better and the US had a secure, permanent military base there, then this conversation would not be happening.

    War is about organized theft in most cases — theft or seizure of money, power (stragetic advantage) and influence. Was Helen of Troy really that pretty? Was the sinking of the Maine really a reason to go to war over two oceans? Was the pre-revolutionary treatment by the British really that harsh (Was John Hancock, the richest man in America’s home being used for quarters? Could he not afford his tea? Freedom, and the feeling of it, is more than a word. Libertarians are supposed to be great sufferers of any unreasonable lack of it. What would be a greater reason for you to fight than to be left alone?

    IF bin Laden types were in control of the middle east, would they cut off the oil and wreck the world economy on purpose? Do they think in terms of greed and gain as capitalists do? Do they really want to destroy the Great Satan? Or do they want to be like us? Just because we have what we want to be happy, does that mean we can declare wars over, boundaries set, and peace on earth?

  66. knock Knock =

    “The main reason this war is a BAD war is that we are not winning.”

    Uh. Thats one reason. A reason.

    Probably more fundamental reason its a bad war is that it is =

    a) not just failing to advance our strategic interests in the region…

    (e.g. cowing Iran, helping topple regimes by establishing laboratory for ME democracy, advancing US military credibility, protecting vital interests like oil stability, ‘flypapering’ terrorist cells like al q so we can eliminate them where we establish scene of battle, preventing providing them ‘safe haven’ etc etc)

    … but, that b) the war is in fact working directly against US interests.

    Meaning, Iran has been emboldened, democracy-building discredited, the US military depleted and disillusioned, Iraq has become the main source of recruitment for global terror cells, it’s also becoming the laboratory/training ground for jihadists to test strategies to apply elsewhere… etc etc.

    Perhaps this is what you meant by “not winning”.

    The point of difference here is that you might believe these initial objectives were achievable in Iraq – I personally think that the sectarian conflict and reprisals would have happened no matter what, and that there were few alternative directions it could go. I was against going in in the first place because i thought it would bog us down and distract us from AL Q. It has. I felt Saddam could have been kept under wraps for 5 more years and present no threat. Osama, I didnt feel that way about. See, there’s this hole in my city…

    anyway, this might be acedemic.

    next point =

    Would Al Q wreck the global economy on purpose?

    Probably, if given the opportunity. They preferred the middle ages. They see no particular ‘benefit’ to much of modernity. They and their constituents have little to lose, frankly. Saudi arabia fears these guys almost more than we do, in some respects, because of this very reason.

  67. Even if what I do does benefit big oil. I don’t do it for big oil I do it for my country.

    Right, and that is exactly why I am taking the time to post here about this. My hope is that at some point you will see what your involvement really means, and repent, and get out of there. because you are not under a military contract any more, you have the right to get out if you become disillusioned. I am hoping that you will become disillusioned and get out. It is nothing personal, and I am not going to say that you are stupid or crazy for having been talked into the justness of the Iraq War. It is pretty understandable that you got convinced by some greedy people that you could help others by helping yourself. But, ultimately, the geopolitics of the thing make this an unjust war, and the morally correct thing to do as a contractor is either to let them reassign you to a just war, or, failing that, resign. It is pretty evil that the oil companies manipulated the genuine patriotic feelings of so many Americans, and most especially soldiers and veterans, but they did. Do the right thing.

    I am 100% sure that the Iraqis that I trained don’t do what they do for big oil either.

    No, they do it for a small piece of the proceeds. For them it is a matter of survival. Fortunately for you, there are plenty of jobs in the US for a talented guy like you. The money will be less and the taxes higher, but you will know the true joy of a clean conscience again, and that is the best thing of all.

    If your stupid little corn syrup fantasies benefited big oil would that make you a mercenary?

    Actually, you may recall that I gave up my main corn syrup fantasy — the one where I thought corn syrup was causing diabetes out of proportion to its (over) consumption. Of course it was hard for me to come back here to the HnR and admit that I had been wrong about that, but I did. I had to, because, after I did my research, it was the only moral thing I could do.

    As far as that stuff I wrote to you in the long email about the two main soda companies acting as an oligopoly, largely to substitute a bad sweetner for a good one, in defiance of what a true, free market would want — I stand by that. But that is a reality, and it was done openly and over time. When people talk about my crazee (now disclaimed) corn syrup fantasies, they mean the diabetes thing.

    To answer your question, I would only become a mercenary if I started dealing in death and killing. I am not about to start kill or dying for corn syrup — even if it had turned out to be the secret key to the diabetes epidemic.

    Returning to more pertinent matters, Americans with guns in Iraq, who are not under the military contract, with its low pay and stop gap provisions, are mercenaries from a moral standpoint, even if not on the basis of international treaty. Those treaties were written at a time when your country would just draft you if it wanted you to shoot people in foreign lands, so they wrote the relevant definition to exclude mercenaries who were native to the nation they were fighting for. treaties, like any contracts, may have loopholes. I know, I am a lawyer. However, morality does not. Look around you, check yourself, and put the “sandbox” behind you. the Reno County Sheriff’s Dep’t is always looking. I see them on the teevee all the time.

  68. As far as that stuff I wrote to you in the long email about the two main soda companies acting as an oligopoly, largely to substitute a bad sweetner for a good one, in defiance of what a true, free market would want — I stand by that. But that is a reality, and it was done openly and over time. When people talk about my crazee (now disclaimed) corn syrup fantasies, they mean the diabetes thing.

    That was me, not him, FYI

    And try sticking to one uninformed argument of yours at a time; if you like, please read the Salon article linked to above, and try picking up where you left off – re: Blood for Oil, and who’s being ‘naive’

  69. Americans with guns in Iraq, who are not under the military contract, with its low pay and stop gap provisions, are mercenaries from a moral standpoint

    Are your morals also, coincidentally, the current guidelines for international law?

    just checking.

    does the fact that these rubble-digging ‘mercs’ happened to be British affect things at all? are they more or less… moral?…

    When journalists/news agencies hire private security (“Americans with Guns”) to do their work safely in a war zone… are they also immoral? Trying to understand here.

    Most of these agencies are not being hired by the US military as much as by the contractors we’ve hired to do construction, logistics, build sewage/water treatment, provide foodservice to troops etc… meaning, when we hire a contractor to build a hospital, is the only moral thing to do to assign a platoon of marines to provide 24/7 security to the site?

    Help me out here with a fatwa or something.

  70. I know this thread is dead, sorry I didn’t get back. Gilmore & KD, not 67 it was the 1973 Yom Kippur war. Oddly enough the pitch was rather direct with full approval of our government. They wanted experienced military people and were quite open about it. Came right to my office in Hanger 296…..Course I can’t prove that. 🙂

    Dave W. Any US citizens working under the proper circumstances in foreign lands are exempt from income tax.

  71. proper circumstances

    And I am arguing that “proper circumstances” is defined in a ridiculous and unfair way such that contractors fail to help pay for the war they handsomely profit from, while people in other circumstances can be subject to US income taxation while living outside the US and working for non-US companies.

  72. “””is the only moral thing to do to assign a platoon of marines to provide 24/7 security to the site?”””

    It would be a heck of a lot cheaper.

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