Monday, May 22, 2006



One of the most influential voices in US media, Ted Koppel, former host of the high-rating current affairs show Nightline, wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times last week where he floated the idea that it may be time for America's corporations to start paying the bills for the US military interventions, occasionally, undertaken on their behalf.

There are some 50,000 private contractors currently working in the Iraq warzone. At least three quarters of these workers are been estimated to be security workers, acting as body guards, security guards for embassies and private businesses, but an unknown number are now rumoured to be already providing support to, and filling in some of the gaps left by, the US Military. Many are former soldiers, SAS, cops, they are armed and usually well-trained.

So why not create an Army Of Mercernaries, suggested Koppel, and get the corporations who benefit most from US intervention to pay the bills, instead of US taxpayers?

This would be, he wrote, "the inevitable response of a market economy to a host of seemingly intractable public policy and security problems."

This need for a private army that could be deployed into the world's trouble spots, where American corporations have interests, or "American interests" as President Bush has called them, is Koppel's solution to an over-stretched US military, and the desire of American business to sink corporate roots into highly-volatile, but vastly profitable, territories like Iraq and Darfur.

"Just as the all-volunteer military relieved the government of much of the political pressure that had accompanied the draft," wrote Koppel, "so a rent-a-force, harnessing the privilege of every putative warrior to hire himself out for more than he could ever make in the direct service of Uncle Sam, might relieve us of an array of current political pressures.

"So, if there are personnel shortages in the military (and with units in their second and third rotations into Iraq and Afghanistan, there are), then what's wrong with having civilian contractors? Expense is a possible issue; but a resumption of the draft would be significantly more controversial....

"So, what about the inevitable next step — a defensive military force paid for directly by the corporations that would most benefit from its protection? If, for example, an insurrection in Nigeria threatens that nation's ability to export oil (and it does), why not have Chevron or Exxon Mobil underwrite the dispatch of a battalion or two of mercenaries?"

Koppel pointed out that Blackwater USA, the security outfit run by former US Army and CIA officers, "has publicly said that his company would be prepared to take on the Darfur account."

Koppel wrapped up his interesting opinion piece with this : "The United States may not be about to subcontract out the actual fighting in the war on terrorism, but the growing role of security companies on behalf of a wide range of corporate interests is a harbinger of things to come."

(Koppel quotes sourced from : Editor And Publisher)