Monday, June 08, 2009

A minor draw down, a huge increase in contractors equals continued illegal war

The United States is digging in for more warfare, rather than planning to get out. Indeed, the deadline for U.S. troops to leave Iraqi cities has passed. Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army chief of staff, said the Pentagon must plan for extended U.S. combat and stability operations in two wars — up to 10 more years in Iraq.
Meanwhile, a new report from the Pentagon indicated that there were now 250,000 private security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is fair to call these people mercenaries since they do the jobs that service members did in Vietnam and other wars. When the mercenaries are added to the active duty troops, it totals nearly 450,000 military personnel in the three wars.

The above is from Jon Krieg's "Today's Inbox: Reverse U.S. course in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan" (Des Moines Register) and Alice Hibbert (Russia Today -- link has text and video) explains it this way:

It's been revealed that the number of private security contractors working for the US war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan has greatly increased. While troops are being pulled out a Pentagon report says that the number of contractors working for the US Defense Department has increased by up to 30% since President Obama came to office. This figure has now swelled to some 250,000 working for companies such as Blackwater and Triple Canopy.

The Russia Today report (by RT correspondent Marina Portnaya) can also be seen at Lez Get Real's "Obama's Surge? Mercenaries Soar To 250,000 in Iraq/Afghanistan" and LGR adds, "This is unacceptable, and inexcusable. Its time we wake up to the fact that Obama isn't bringing change at all. He hasn't undone the Bush policies, he's continued and made them worse. I honestly can't believe he's doing this stuff. Hiring a private army that thinks they're above the law? That is so low. Just as low as paying off that kid to target 'terrorists' for a hundred and twenty bucks a pop, and then being shocked when he just dumps chips everywhere and takes the money. Predator drones kill innocent women and children on our tax dollars, and for what? What the hell are we doing in the middle east? What the hell do we have to do to free ourselves from this shameful nightmare?"

Today the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute announced:

Worldwide military expenditure in 2008 totalled an estimated
US$1464 billion, according to new figures released today by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). This represents an increase of 4 per cent in real terms compared to 2007, and an increase of 45 per cent since 1999. SIPRI today launched the 2009 edition of its Yearbook on Armaments, Disarmament and International Security.
The Yearbook shows that the USA accounted for the majority (58%) of the global increase between 1999 and 2008, with its military spending growing by $219 billion in constant 2005 prices over the period. Even so, it was far from the only country to pursue such a course. China and Russia, with absolute increases of $42 billion and $24 billion respectively, both nearly tripled their military expenditure over the decade. Other regional powers -- particularly India, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel, Brazil, South Korea, Algeria and the UK -- also made substantial contributions to the total increase.
'The idea of the "war on terror" has encouraged many countries to see their problems
through a highly militarized lens, using this to justify high military spending,' comments Dr Sam Perlo-Freeman, Head of the Military Expenditure Project at SIPRI. 'Meanwhile, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost $903 billion in additional military spending by the USA alone.'

The report finds that the USA spent 607 billion. The next highest spender was China with $84.9 billion, followed by France with $65.7 billion, the UK with $65.3 billion with Russia rounding out the top five with $58.6 billion.

Friday Jeremy Scahill appeared on Bill Moyers Journal:

BILL MOYERS: How do explain this spike in private contractors in both Iraq and Afghanistan?

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, I think what we're seeing, under President Barack Obama, is sort of old wine in a new bottle. Obama is sending one message to the world, but the reality on the ground, particularly when it comes to private military contractors, is that the status quo remains from the Bush era. Right now there are 250 thousand contractors fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's about 50 percent of the total US fighting force. Which is very similar to what it was under Bush. In Iraq, President Obama has 130 thousand contractors. And we just saw a 23 percent increase in the number of armed contractors in Iraq. In Afghanistan there's been a 29 percent increase in armed contractors. So the radical privatization of war continues unabated under Barack Obama.
Having said that, when Barack Obama was in the Senate he was one of the only people that was willing to take up this issue. And he put forward what became the leading legislation on the part of the Democrats to reform the contracting industry. And I give him credit for doing that. Because he saw this as an important issue before a lot of other political figures. And spoke up at a time when a lot of people were deafeningly silent on this issue. I've been critical of Obama's position on this because I think that he accepts what I think is a fundamental lie. That we should have a system where corporations are allowed to benefit off of warfare. And President Obama has carried on a policy where he has tried to implement greater accountability structures. We now know, in a much clearer way than we did under Bush, how many contractors we have on the battlefield. He's attempted to implement some form of rules governing contractors. And it has suggested that there should be greater accountability when they do commit crimes.

A position as a senator that he dropped in his presidential run. Kind of an important point because he is today a president and not a senator. And this eagerness to drop unpleasant facts out of the Barry O story is why Jeremy is so often seen as a little s**t who wants credit for things that didn't happen. He claims he called Barry O out in real time and that's a lie. He attacked Hillary and rushed to defend Barry. He did so because he believed he was developing a relationship with a source (Sammy Power) and because he hates Clinton. Hatred isn't an excuse for a journalist. Hatred gets set aside.

Jeremy wrote ** and promoted ** an article which chided Barry O and ripped Hillary apart for refusing to make a commitment that, if elected president, they would end the use of 'security' contractors. The article was posted online and, in less than 24 hours, Hillary agreed to do just that. Barry O refused and Sammy Power gave Jeremy a song and dance about why. So Jeremy followed up with an article offering excuses for Barry O's REFUSAL to do what he (Jermey) was advocating and ripping Hillary apart as untrustworthy.

The subject is contractors with Bill Moyers and yet Jeremy sticks to being a little s**t and refuses to bring up that incident. Yes, it probably is humiliating for Jeremy but that's no one's fault but his own. He also has real issues with women and if you listen to his most recent Law & Disorder interview you will notice how Michael Ratner brings back in Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, who was the topic for his public statements until Jeremy took it into yet another attack on Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, where he claimed to "KNOW" things that he can't know and where he revealed his ignorance or willingness to lie by claiming the Washington Post exposed Pelosi in 2007. Bob Somerby's covered all of this and with the accuracy that Jeremy misses because hatred blinds him.

I have no problem with anger and Jeremy can certainly use it to fuel his work but he's let it blind him and that's why he can sometimes be an important journalist but he's not a great one. Maybe someday.

Saturday the US DoD issued the following: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Lance Cpl. Robert D. Ulmer, 22, of Landisville, Pa., died June 5 as a result of a non-hostile incident in Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune N.C. The incident is under investigation. For additional background information on this Marine, news media representatives may contact the II Marine Expeditionary Force public affairs office at (910) 451-7200."
P.J. Reilly (LancasterOnline) reports that "Ulmer was a 2006 graduate of Hempfield" and his parents are Kim and Douglas Ulmer.

Bonnie reminds that Kat's "Kat's Korner: Ben Harper" went up Sunday as did Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Lowering the Brand."

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