Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Warlord cash flow is a positive feedback loop

Follow the Money! Follow the Money! The secret to why we engage in useless, seemingly-counterproductive wars! What is the magic of Privatization? Why is it profitable to convince people to slaughter each other? Follow the Money!

Notice how the Warlords are filling exactly the same niche as Prince's Blackwater Xe, as are a large majority of the Taliban. Mercenaries. Roughly 60% of "our" forces in Afghanistan are now mercenaries.*

June 22, 2010

by Dave Anderson

The BBC, among many other news agencies, are reporting on a Congressional investigation into Afghan security contractors and the US supply lines. The gist of the story is simple; privatizing convoy protection means pumping massive amounts of money into warlords who have every incentive to inflate the need for their services while also minimizing their risk. That means staging elaborate ‘faux’ ambushes and paying off insurgent groups that are strong enough to overrun convoys that are under their protection.

The document states that trucks carrying food, water, fuel, and ammunition may be supplying up to $4 million (£2.7m) per week to the firms.

A US congressional committee is expected to hear the evidence on the investigation from senior officials at the US Department of Defense later on Tuesday.

‘Vast protection racket’The congressional subcommittee that carried out the investigation says that bribes are paid to the Taliban and virtually every governor, police chief and local military commander whose territory the convoys pass through.

One of the security companies in question is alleged to be owned by two cousins of the Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The report released late on Monday says the security agreements violate laws on the use of private contractors, as well as US Department of Defense regulations.

The report states that “although the warlords do provide guards and coordinate security, the contractors have little choice but to use them in what amounts to a vast protection racket”.

This is not surprising. Rumbles of this have been making the press for months now. Smart bloggers have been pointing out the logic and incentive structure of warlordism and decentralized armed groups cutting deals for local interests instead of American interests for even longer. The same basic set-up occurred in Iraq as local reconstruction funds were often paid to ‘respectable’ businessmen and tribal elites who then distributed the cash to their supporters as well as to insurgent groups through a bewildering array of kickbacks and sub-contractors to the subcontractors.The anti-government insurgencies in both Iraq and Afghanistan continued to grow as the US poured more money into each respective nation. The crumbs that fell off the US funded gravy train were more than sufficient to arm and sustain fighters who were able to deny the US its maximalist objectives. The more we spend in Afghanistan, the more crumbs we generate, and the more the Taliban and other anti-government and anti-US groups can raise. It is a nasty positive feedback loop that won’t be broken unless the United States, and more importantly Barrack Obama realizes he can take the short term domestic political hit of abandoning maximal goals and embracing a minimal and much cheaper goal set.

That is unlikely due to the revolt of the generals, fear of being called weak, a possibility of a Republican House in 2011, and the shut-down of the only Keynesian spending Blue-Dog Democrats and Republicans will support, military Keynesian spending.

*This from the Washington Post, 12-15-2010:
The CRS study says contractors made up 69 percent of the Pentagon's personnel in Afghanistan last December, a proportion that "apparently represented the highest recorded percentage of contractors used by the Defense Department in any conflict in the history of the United States." As of September, contractor representation had dropped to 62 percent, as U.S. troop strength increased modestly.

This from Bloomberg.com, 3-10-2009:
Vice President Joe Biden said at least 70 percent of Taliban guerrillas in Afghanistan are mercenaries who could be persuaded to lay down their arms, stepping up U.S. calls for outreach to “moderate” elements of the insurgency.
An oddball Global Warming Analogy:

More energy retained in the global weather system=more energetic storms, more extremes of hot and cold, draughts and floods.

More money into a war=more graft and corruption, more mercenaries killing other mercenaries, as well as more civilians, breeding more energetic terrorist storms, as well as more extremes of all kinds.

This might require a post of its own...

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