Outsourcing death and the American way of war

So apparently we’re going to begin outsourcing our military related dying by recruiting foreign nationals to fight our wars for us, based upon the promise of an easy pass to US citizenship. Somehow it all sounds so familiar.

During the years leading up to the debacle in Iraq, it became fashionable to say that Americans had become accustomed to near zero-casualty warfare. And why not?

Panama Invasion: 23 American deaths.
Gulf War (1991): 148 American deaths
Bosnia and Kosovo: 0 American deaths

While every life lost was, of course, a tragedy, let’s face it: Compared with previous wars these were stunningly small losses. This was war on the cheap, at least in terms of the blood spent — American blood that is. The death rates among civilians and opposing forces in all of these conflicts were, of course, much higher, although the exact numbers are usually disputed.

Back in those heady days before the current Iraqi meat grinder, pundits often fretted that these low casualty numbers would make the American public intolerant of losses, such that they’d turn and run the first time our noses got bloodied in combat. Indeed, some disillusioned neoconservatives, unwilling to concede the fruits of their own incompetence, continue to insist even today that this is why the American people have turned against the war in Iraq.

But that’s, of course, hogwash. Americans will always be prepared to pay the price of liberty. What they aren’t prepared to do is to pay the price for the neocon’s delusions.

The real problem with those long ago days of near zero-casualty wars was actually something quite different: By making the avoidance of American casualties at all costs — certainly a laudable goal in general — the highest priority, we ended up putting the morality of our actions into serious question by at least appearing to degrade the importance of the lives of others. As I said six months ago:

This may not be a popular thing to say: But the truth is that the Haditha massacre, as awful as it apparently was, isn’t the most important story coming out of Iraq involving Americans killing civilians. And it isn’t the one that’s ultimately likely to do the most damage to our standing, or what little is left of it, among the Iraqi people.

Americans have a dirty little secret in Iraq and Afghanistan (secret here not there), which is that we have grown distressingly comfortable with killing innocent civilians, where doing so enhances the safety of our own people.

This isn’t about massacres like Haditha, or even intentional homicides like those committed against Iraqi prisoners; it’s about priorities set by our government — priorities that seem quite clearly to place a much higher value on the lives of American troops, than on those of, say, Iraqi and Afghan children.

* * *

We hide in the Green Zone in Iraq, in what can best be described as the world’s most heavily guarded “gated community,” where only a select few Iraqis are permitted to enter; and when we do venture out, we take our gates with us, establishing “prohibited areas” and roadblocks outside of American outposts. And any Iraqi who blunders into our space stands a good chance of dying — gunned down in response to a very legitimate fear of suicide bombers.

* * *

Meanwhile, the United States is increasingly turning to air power in preference to troops when fighting battles in both Iraq and Afghanistan, a move calculated to reduce U.S. casualties, but just as certain to increase losses among civilians.

But despite it all, Americans keep dying. And the bottom line, given the lack of public support for this moronic undertaking, is that we simply don’t have enough soldiers to carry on this madness much longer. So we need to grow our military. The only problem is, for some strange reason, not that many Americans want to line up for their chance of becoming the last person to die for a lie in Iraq.

So is it really that surprising that when faced with this conundrum our answer, once again, is to outsource the dying, this time by bringing in our own Hessians?

All of which points to a question few people seem willing to ask: If a war isn’t worth Americans dying for, is it really worth the deaths of so many others?

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5 Responses to “Outsourcing death and the American way of war”

  1. Larkrise Says:

    In Bushworld, fraud is king, be it elections,Congressional votes for sale, regulations ignored or rescinded, wars started, disaster recoveries sold to no-bid contractors, forests destroyed, oceans polluted, and on and on, as long as some fat-cats along the way make a buck. Death and suffering are ignored. All that matters is war-profiteering, disaster-profiteering, and money flowing into the corporate larders. Outsourcing the dying fits the agenda. It will make some companies richer; and allow death to be ignored once again. And, you are quite right, Steve, to point out that the American public is comfortable with thousands of human-beings dying in other countries. For that matter, most of the public has forgotten about the Katrina victims. The outcry should be much louder than it has been. Not one Republican should have gotten back into office or been elected, given the almost total corruption of that party. The voters who put them there do not give a rat’s patootie about the suffering of Iraqis, the suffering in Afghanistan,and the suffering of Katrina victims. What they will care about, is when the cost of all of this killing and corruption finally hits their pocketbook and gives them a taste of misery. Then and only then will they connect the dots and have no choice but to share in suffering humanity.

  2. alwayshope Says:

    The events that have followed the selection of The master of Disaster have just overwhelmed Americans. We seem to have embraced a Scarlet O’Hara attitude. ” I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”
    And that works in Bush’s favor as much as apathy and ignorance.

    I read that article yesterday and was amazed. Now we need foreign soldiers to defend the country Americans won’t defend?
    Is that it? What a crock!

  3. Larry the Red Says:

    I don’t think this proposal to enlist foreigners with the promise of American citizenship is about defending our country at all. Steve’s right whan he says that “Americans will always be prepared to pay the price of liberty. What they aren’t prepared to do is to pay the price for the neocon’s delusions.” Those delusions, apparently shared by many Denocrats, include the belief that America must maintain overwhelming military superiority and then use it to project American power around the globe. Remember the quaint notion that we would enjoy a “peace dividend” following the collapse of the Soviet Union? Now there’s a crock. The military-industrial-security complex would have none of it, and 9/11 provided the perfect pretext to keep feeding and expanding the best. Sign up foreigners for the project? Sure, why not? They’re expendable, too.

  4. gonnuts Says:

    If there is one thing that I agree with bush and his ilk with it’s this: we’re running out of resources fast. Like it or not we are in the first stages of what’s going to be a major clash of civilizations around the world for control of those resources. And those that control the most will have the most to lose and meet with unmerciful and brutal force any that oppose them.

    The dynasties, royal, industrial, political, and wealthy, often overlapping, that have controlled civilizations for hundreds, if not thousands, of years are trying to hold onto that control against the uprising that comes from the people they enslave. And what better way to enslave a people than to put them in uniform and use them against their own fellow slaves?

    Can you blame them? If you were a Rothschild, Krupp, Morgan, Roosevelt, or any of the say 20 odd dynasties that control 90% of the wealth, and most likely won’t be happy till they get 99%. Their dream of a “one world government” is almost, if not already here.

    SO, here’s the crime – time. We’re out of it. And even if bush and his farce followers of fools hadn’t wasted so much time, we still would have been way beyond the point of no return. The dwindling of just basic resources like water and food, forget going to see a movie, will soon, even in the richest of countries will be scarce. America will suffer the most. Cities and suburbs will turn into war zones. Bush and his ilk know this. Forget the “rapture “ and all the theater along the march of folly. They want control. They will be that 1% behind the walls protected.

    Or so they think. The 1% that will survive, if even possible in the damaged world we’ve produced, will be the tribes.

  5. Simon Jester Says:

    There’s something that many people overlook about the idea of a global government: it doesn’t benefit only the rich.

    A good deal of the economic problems around the world are based on the way those self-same rich use the disparity of national currencies to extract value from the rest of us. You can’t compare wages or prices across national boundaries in terms of numerical units of any one currency. What is important to the people using each currency is what a typical week’s salary will buy. Bargains based on importing goods or services from another country — made using a different currency — cheapen the value of domestic labor, and push people towards, if not into, poverty.

    As long as those who benefit from defrauding the populace with these economic games can evade their responsibilities by stepping across national boundaries to operate their businesses, they can never be stopped. A common currency eliminates the possibility of playing one population off against the other, and a global means of enforcing rules eliminates the possibility of safe harbor for those who benefit from our collective misery.

    There are many ways to see any given situation; to discard a possibility out of emotional attachments may prevent us from recognizing the value it might offer.


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