Msnowe's Blog

Is blackwater all that different?

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on November 14, 2007

Hired hands. Mercenaries. Private Contractors. Many people, and most Democrats would agree that the hiring of outside contractors to fight our battles is ill-advised, as evinced by the current situations and controversies we’ve seen (yet don’t know the full extent of) in Iraq and Afghanistan. But you have to wonder, with all the accusations of cowboyism, and independent mismanagement with separate agendas, how different is the management of current official military and intelligence agencies? Other than being government affiliated, how do their methods of incentives, inducements, and outright bullying differ? A great analysis of newly imposed incentives for the military can be found here: http://www.slate.com/id/2177426/.

Most people laugh at the military’s juvenile attempts to advertise and recruit via television ads and college campus visits (though these are not met without opposition by co-eds the nation over). But where sheer marketing gusto falls short, the military has made made up with the almighty dollar – so almighty, that the phrase might soon become: “God, Country, Corps, Stock Options and Matching Funds.” As the age of financial savvy lowers, the military has a wider net to cast when recruiting. If you told a junior or senior that they could potentially finish high school with around 28 G’s in their bank accounts, it would be hard to fill the space between their ears with anything but dollar signs — not too much room left for considerations of IEDs and training camps. And these bright kids, the ones fresh out of high school might earn a military education that they didn’t exactly bargain for – even if they understood the perils of warfare. What they will undoubtedly encounter is the military’s new initiative that will ultimately aid America’s jammed to capacity prison system: “moral waivers.” This little jem of a loop hole allows the military to grant enlistment to those with prior convictions. So essentially, if we send them over to Iraq, etc., they wouldn’t be able to repeat offend (at least in this country) and be able to take out their aggressions in “healthy” ways, like killing terrorists. None of these “moral” soldiers have ever acted out in immoral ways, none have ever raped or murdered innocent civilians in war zones…. wait….

So correct this logic if wrong, but we would rather enlist known felons (probably the same people who blackwater, although a shady organization, would probably not hire) than those who bring absolutely capable, invaluable, and vital assets (Read: we discharge those found to be gay — and they are usually the translators, or those in respected and extremely useful positions who are good at their jobs).

And when recruiters look for those next few, brave, etc., do they ever utter the words “stoploss“? No other huge employer can systematically change a contract, and make a binding, indisputable restriction on your leave. And what can soldiers do really?… you can’t exactly charter a southwest airlines flight out of Baghdad. And if you go AWOL, chances are you won’t be seeing those promised bonuses.

A lot of young people see the distinct advantage of joining the military in order to pay their college bills once they return to the states. And as lofty as that is for the people who enlist with this as a goal, you have to wonder how a country that claims to be as enlightened as the US can only afford to send people to college if they’ve killed a few foreigners first, and then once they do go off to college after this experience, only then do they learn of the history behind warfare, read a few treatises and literary interpretations, and learn the different philosophies that might inspire them to have a better understanding of the world, and therein have them question their past choices to go to war in the first place- all to no avail.

All this said, we do need a military — it’s a vital aspect of any major world power. But the mismanagement and utter disregard for morality, as well as the schemes to induce and hoodwink disaffected youths corrupts the whole organization – including those soldiers who join for genuine conviction’s sake. No one is blaming the soldiers, and that’s the argument that constantly gets tossed around in the war of rhetoric on capital hill, (and in most of the red areas). Well, instead of contesting the jobs of the soldiers, let’s isolate the discussion to those in high military executive positions – and start a not so little debate about top-down management, open to discussion with the military, the government, and American citizens.

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