Ironies of outsourcing war

Middlebury College professor Allison Stanger made big news last Wednesday when she appeared on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” to discuss her book, “One Nation Under Contract: The Outsourcing of American Power and the Future of Foreign Policy.” The release of her book is old news, actually, seeing how the hardback edition came out in October 2009, but the paperback edition recently came out and it was another opportunity for Stewart to highlight an important work — by putting the spotlight on Stanger’s seven years of research though his deadpan sarcasm, quick wit and abundant irony.

Some of the highlights of Stanger’s work include these facts:

• The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were the first of America’s wars in which the number of hired contractors fighting or providing services were more than or equal to the number of military personnel. As a contrast, in the Vietnam War, only about 14 percent of that war was supported by contractors.

• Most contractors (which is, in many cases, a nice word for mercenaries) in Iraq and Afghanistan wars earned three to four times as much as U.S. soldiers and others in the armed services; even though they were performing the same services and paid out of the same Pentagon budget.

• The Pentagon acknowledged that it sent $8.2 billion in contracts to Iraq, often in bucket-loads of cash, with no follow-up from Pentagon auditors as to the purpose of the payments; and Stanger learned that some of that money ended up in the hands of the Taliban, in the case of the war in Afghanistan. “So we have this perverse situation where we’re actually funding the enemy in order to fight them,” Stanger said on the show.

Stewart nailed one irony when he noted: “The Catch-22 is that, if we had a draft, we wouldn’t need the contractors, but my guess is that if we had a draft, we wouldn’t have the wars.”

For more details on this, read the story on Page 1A; watch the video clip of the Daily Show on the Addison Independent’s website (set the blog by Andrea Suozzo), or, most importantly, read Stanger’s book to get a real grasp of how the U.S. funds today’s wars.

It’s nothing like it was during WWII and the era of what has been called this nation’s “greatest generation.” In fact, a majority of the contractors are not American, but rather local contractors in those respective countries to which we are sending hundreds of millions of dollars with very little accountability. As Stanger points out, today we’re employing almost as many foreigners as Americans with our hundreds of billions of dollars spent. These are facts that should particularly be understood by those championing the virtues of war.


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