Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’
Tags: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, United States, war
Tags: Afghanistan, cartoon, law, unemployment, United States, Walmart, war
Tags: Afghanistan, economy, Iraq, war, workers
War is business, and the business of war in Iraq and Afghanistan involves an invisible army of “Third Country Nationals” who are working, suffering injuries, and dying for the U.S. war effort.
As Sarah Stillman explains,
The expansion of private-security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan is well known. But armed security personnel account for only about sixteen per cent of the over-all contracting force. The vast majority—more than sixty per cent of the total in Iraq—aren’t hired guns but hired hands. These workers, primarily from South Asia and Africa, often live in barbed-wire compounds on U.S. bases, eat at meagre chow halls, and host dance parties featuring Nepalese romance ballads and Ugandan church songs. A large number are employed by fly-by-night subcontractors who are financed by the American taxpayer but who often operate outside the law.
The wars’ foreign workers are known, in military parlance, as “third-country nationals,” or T.C.N.s. Many of them recount having been robbed of wages, injured without compensation, subjected to sexual assault, and held in conditions resembling indentured servitude by their subcontractor bosses. Previously unreleased contractor memos, hundreds of interviews, and government documents I obtained during a yearlong investigation confirm many of these claims and reveal other grounds for concern. Widespread mistreatment even led to a series of food riots in Pentagon subcontractor camps, some involving more than a thousand workers.
Amid the slow withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, T.C.N.s have become an integral part of the Obama Administration’s long-term strategy, as a way of replacing American boots on the ground.
How does it work?
The process of outsourcing begins at major government entities, notably the Pentagon, which awarded its most recent prime logistics contract (worth as much as fifteen billion dollars a year) to three U.S.-based private military behemoths: K.B.R. (the former Halliburton subsidiary), DynCorp International, and Fluor. These “prime venders” then shop out the bulk of their contracts to hundreds of global subcontractors, many based in Middle Eastern countries that are on the U.S. State Department’s human-trafficking noncompliance list. Finally, these firms call upon thousands of Third World “manpower agencies”—small recruiting operations like Meridian Services.
The business of war is flourishing in Iraq and Afghanistan, and an invisible army of desperate workers are being exploited so that K.B.R., DynCorp International, and Fluor can profit.
Tags: Afghanistan, J. P. Morgan, resources, United States, war
In the scholarly literature on the political economy of conflict, intrastate wars are all about the greed of insurgents for resources. That’s the argument made famous by Paul Collier (to combat the idea that conflicts are caused by poverty, inequality, and grievances). What Collier and others have forgotten about is the greed of occupiers and their business partners for resources.
James Bandler reports that, in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus and J. P. Morgan’s Ian Hannam have combined to “tap” Afghanistan’s vast mineral riches.
To Hannam, chairman of J.P. Morgan Capital Markets, Afghanistan represents a gigantic, untapped opportunity — one of the last great natural-resource frontiers. Landlocked and pinioned by imperial invaders, Afghanistan has been cursed by its geography for thousands of years. Now, for the first time, Hannam believes, that geography could be an asset. The two most resource-starved nations on the planet, China and India, sit next door to Afghanistan, where, according to Pentagon estimates, minerals worth nearly $1 trillion lie buried. True, there is a war under way. And it’s unclear how the death of Osama bin Laden will impact the country’s political and economic environment. But Hannam is not your usual investment banker: A former soldier, he has done business in plenty of strife-torn countries. So have all the members of his team, two of them former special forces soldiers who have fought here. . .
Hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of iron, copper, rare earth metals, and, yes, gold are buried beneath Afghanistan’s deserts and mountains. This wealth has lain there mainly undisturbed for thousands of years as armies of Persians, Greeks, Mongols, Britons, Russians, and now Americans tramped above. Invaders have dreamed of exploiting it since the time of Alexander the Great, but no one has yet succeeded on a large scale.
That’s a war for resources the U.S. government and J. P. Morgan consider worth fighting.
Tags: Afghanistan, Vietnam, war
Once again, Frank Rich hits the nail on the head: there is a real parallel between the 1971 Pentagon Papers and the Wikileaks release of the Afghan war logs. But it’s not what people think.
The logs won’t change the course of our very long war in Afghanistan, but neither did the Pentagon Papers alter the course of Vietnam. What Ellsberg’s leak did do was ratify the downward trend-line of the war’s narrative. The WikiLeaks legacy may echo that. We may look back at the war logs as a herald of the end of America’s engagement in Afghanistan just as the Pentagon Papers are now a milestone in our slo-mo exit from Vietnam.
The Vietnam War ended not because of the Pentagon Papers but as a result of a combination of Vietnamese resistance, opposition at home, and U.S. soldiers in Vietnam going on strike.
Clearly, the two first two conditions are met with respect to the current war in Afghanistan. I wonder about the third. . .
Tom Engelhardt shows how the U.S. military, along with its civilian and intelligence counterparts, has been in an almost constant state of surge since the last days of the Bush administration. He gathers that scattered information on the nine surges—not just the decision to add 30,000 more U.S. troops—the Obama administration has been engaged in:
- private contractors
- CIA and special forces
All of this has been underway for close to a year, with at least another six months to go. This is the reality that the president and his top officials didn’t bother to explain to the American people in that speech last week, or on those Sunday talk shows, or in congressional testimony, and yet it’s a reality we should grasp as we consider our future and the Afghan War we, after all, are paying for.
The Vermont National Guard begins shipping out tomorrow for Bush’s Obama’s war in Afghanistan.
A farewell ceremony is set for this morning in Burlington for the first of nearly 1,500 Vermont National Guard soldiers going to Afghanistan as part of the Guard’s largest deployment since World War II.
As a sign of how long this war has lasted, 60 percent of those being deployed are veterans of earlier deployments to the region.
Although figures are hard to come by, the Seattle Times reports
The wars have taken a big toll on the state [of Vermont], which has lost 22 people in Iraq and has the highest per-capita casualty rate among states, at 3.54 per 100,000 of population.
As of 8 January 2005, Vermont had the highest number of deaths per 100K of population of any state in the union. It was 1.64—compared to a national average of 0.47.
Tags: Afghanistan, health care, moral hazard, war
Neoclassical economists use—and abuse—the idea of moral hazard. It’s often the excuse to rule out any and all interventions into markets. Like bail-outs and healthcare reform.
But Uwe Reinhardt finds a good use of the concept: funding the war in Afghanistan.
If the monetary and the blood cost of war are shifted mainly to citizens other than the elites who are empowered to declare war and decide how it is conducted, I argued, then that elite is more likely to embrace war and to spend on it. . .
An alternative would be to embrace the approach now urged on the nation by the House Appropriations Committee chairman, David R. Obey, a Democrat from Wisconsin. In his Share the Sacrifice Act of 2010, which he introduced on Nov. 19, he calls for an explicit war surtax to pay for our continuing wars:
“The problem in this country,” Mr. Obey told ABC News, “is that the only people who have been asked to sacrifice are military families, and they have had to go to the well again and again and again, and everybody else is blithely unaffected by the war. … If we have to pay for the health care bill, we should pay for the war, as well.”
Juan Cole provides a list of the top ten things that could derail Obama’s plan for Afghanistan.
The biggest threat of derailment comes from an American public facing 17 percent true unemployment and a collapsing economy who are being told we need to spend an extra $30 billion to fight less than 100 al-Qaeda guys in the mountains of Afghanistan, even after the National Security Adviser admitted that they are not a security threat to the US.
That’s the analogy to Vietnam Obama didn’t mention last night: U.S. soldiers went on strike, with the support of U.S. citizens. They fragged their officers and refused to fight in an imperialist war, in the context of a large and growing antiwar movement. The U.S. public has clearly withdrawn its support for this war, even before they were hit by and made to pay for the crises of capitalism.
Andrew Sullivan also has a sane reaction to Obama’s plan. Here are some excerpts:
This war is already eight years’ old and will soon have lasted longer than Vietnam. Its rationale today is very different than what it was in 2001 – 2002. Al Qaeda is based in Pakistan, not Afghanistan. The US, thanks to Bush and the recession, is bankrupt and facing a long and brutal period of high unemployment and soon huge cuts in entitlements or big tax hikes.
Our enemy already knows that the US cannot sustain neo-imperial control of a vast inhospitable country on the other side of the planet for more than a decade. And if the US were to do so, it would be becoming the imperial power the neocons and the Islamists truly want. What Obama was saying last night is that he is determined to return America to normal, to unplug this vast attempt at global control in Muslim countries that Bush and Cheney unleashed. He is trying to unwind the empire, not expand it.
How best to unwind the empire? By giving McChrystal what he wants and giving him a couple of years to deliver tangible results. If McChrystal delivers, fantastic. . .If McChrystal does his best and we still get nowhere, Obama will have demonstrated – not argued, demonstrated – that withdrawal is the least worst option.