Wikileaks and the privatization of war

Wikileaks and the privatization of war

The latest Wikileaks revelations, the largest US classified leak in history, showing that the US killed unarmed civilians in Iraq, gunned down at checkpoints, and did not pursue cases of abuse by Iraqi forces tells us one thing: the privatization of war has gone off the rails.

The New York Times analysis shows that contractors brought in by the military are largely to blame for the chaos. The contractors had no sense of accountability and they were particularly ineffective at keeping themselves and the people they were paid to protect from being killed. In fact their pick-up trucks and SUVs were magnets for insurgents, militias and disgruntled Iraqis.

As Pratap Chaterjee writes in The Guardian, it shows how the privatization of war has gone amok.

"On my four visits to Iraq in the last seven years, I learned quickly to steer clear of the fast-moving vehicles belonging to these private security companies. The men – sporting identical reflective wrap-around sunglasses, bullet-proof jackets – would aim their high-powered assault rifles and shout "Imshi" ("Move") at any vehicle that came within a 50m perimeter. Sometimes, they would throw plastic water bottles to shock pedestrians into staying away,'' Chaterjee writes. "Courtesy Wikileaks, we now know that many more deadly shootings have taken place by these unregulated private security contractors than we knew of before. Given this new knowledge, it is time that we demand an inquiry into the privatisation of the military. Right now, the prime facie evidence is that it has considerably increased the number of unnecessary violent incidents, while reducing military discipline and accountability and costing taxpayers a bundle."

The US is likely to increase the number of contractors coming into Iraq as the military pulls out. That means it's going to get worse. The best way to resolve the problem is to establish an entity that would monitor contractors and ensure more accountability. But then, the contractors are likely to campaign against anything that watches over them.


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