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Apparently, springtime is surge time in Afghanistan.
President Obama is launching a new, expanded American adventure to “stabilize” this historically unstable, impoverished, warlord state that’s ruled by hundreds of fractious, heavily-armed tribal leaders. Some 36,000 American troops are already there, but it has not gone well for them. They’ve lost ground in a grinding, deadly war that’s now in its eighth year, costing us taxpayers $2 billion a month.
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What to do? Spend more, cry the warhawks! So, Obama has announced a double-surge strategy for Afghanistan. First will be a surge of 17,000 more soldiers. Second will be a “civilian surge” of hundreds of U.S. economic development specialists, who will try to win the hearts and the cooperation of Afghan villagers through various efforts to lift their living standards.
But, look – what’s that coming over the hill? Why it’s a third surge that Obama didn’t mention: private military contractors! It was such profit-seeking outfits as Halliburton and Blackwater that ran rampant in Iraq, doing deep damage, yet here we go again with a private army in Afghanistan.
More than 71,000 of these corporate freelancers are already operating there, and hoards more are preparing to go as Pentagon spending ramps up for Obama’s war. Pentagon Chief Robert Gates claims that these armed employees – ie, mercenaries – are necessary to provide security for U.S. bases and convoys.
Say what? America has to hire private security firms to guard our Army? Yes, we’re told, with no explanation or even a wink at the absurdity of it.
Meanwhile, here’s an interesting twist to the contractor surge: the private guards protecting our troops will most likely not even be Americans. Of the nearly four thousand security firms in Afghanistan, only nine are from the U.S.
“Obama: Comprehensive Afghan strategy needed,” Austin American Statesman,” March 23, 2009.
“In Afghanistan, US military’s ‘Help Wanted’ sign,” www.yahoo.com, March 22, 2009.
“US Wants Afghanistan Exit Strategy,” www.truthout.org, March 23, 2009.
“The Afghan Scam,” www.truthdig.com, January 13, 2009.