Hefty Iraq bills have business of war booming for contractors
Pal Item (2007-09-06) Brian Geier
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In 1961, Eisenhower warned, "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence...by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."
Almost 50 years later, the potential remains. While early estimates of the cost of the Iraq war were $50 billion, we now spend about $2 billion every week in Iraq, for a current total around $700 billion in direct costs. It's no secret that the industries supplying goods and services in the Iraq war benefit greatly from its continuation and from every surge of funding.
Gone are the days when Congress cut a check for a war and the military was paid to carry out operations. Today, some in Congress report that for every $1 spent on the Iraq war, 40 cents goes directly to corporate contractors. These war mercenaries, who'll do anything from drive trucks through insurgent-held areas, to torture and interrogation, to protection of senior officials, outnumber U.S. troops by 20,000. Companies such as Blackwater and Greystone heavily recruit from militaries all over the world to build the "teams" carrying out the U.S.-led war. Who needs support from other nations when companies can buy it, and Congress is willing to pay them for it?
This privatization masks the true costs, and intent, of the so-called war on terror. With the steady paycheck for Iraq and an impending attack on Iran, the business of war is, well, booming. And with $42 billion (70 percent) of all intelligence spending going to private contractors, reasons for wars are likely to keep surfacing.
It's dangerous to be dependent on war to be economically stable; it is the shared characteristic of past empires and civilizations who were about to fall. We need a drastic turn of events.
Brian Geier, Centerville, Ind.