The privatization of War Inc. in Iraq

The world of warfare in Iraq began to change in the summer of 2003. By early 2004, the ubiquitous white sports utility vehicles used by security contractors like Blackwater, DynCorp and Aegis were a common sight on the streets of Baghdad, and private guards were taking posts outside buildings throughout the Green Zone.

Perhaps most telling, Coalition Provisional Authority director Paul Bremer's own security detail was made up not of U.S. troops but beefy, sunglass-wearing private guards. Bremer later signed an order giving such individuals - and the companies for which they work - immunity from prosecution in Iraq, a rule which was later incorporated into Iraqi law and which critics say has led to egregious injustices and human rights abuses.

Among the late entries into the security game was Triple Canopy, founded by several former U.S. Special Forces members six months after the Iraq invasion. Despite limited experience in the private security arena the company claims to have secured more than $100 million in revenue in its first year of operation. By 2005, Triple Canopy had won a contract worth tens of millions of dollars to provide security services at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

And within months [it was recruiting] in Latin America, enlisting high-ranking military officers to help fill hundreds of security positions. When the civil wars that marked much of the past 30 years in Latin America subsided, many army officers and soldiers who were disbanded didn't have any other opportunities.

Pratap Chatterjee, the author of Iraq, Inc.: A Profitable Occupation, writes: "What we're seeing here is the exploitation of poor labor. These companies are simply taking advantage of the market we all live in. This is the way globalization works. You tap into the global poor. The rule is that the lowest wage rules."

[Excerpt of article by Roxana Orellana, Salt Lake Tribune]

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