Afghan Rifts; Guns For Hire
Afghan Rifts; Guns For Hire
The rising tide of Afghan civilian deaths has opened a rift between the
Daan Everts, the senior NATO civilian in
German Defense Minister Franz Joseph Jung said, 'We have to do everything to avoid that civilians are affected. We are in talks with our American friends about this.'
The issue has split German Chancellor Angela Merkel's 'Grand Coalition.' While Merkel's Christian Democrats generally support the war, their coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), is suddenly feeling pressure on its portside from the newly formed united Left Party. SDP leaders have come out against renewing the current mandate to deploy German troops in
The rising tide of Afghan civilian deaths-over 1,800 killed in 2007-has helped fuel a push for United Nations participation to end the conflict. Leading the drive is British Secretary of Defense, Des Browne.
In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Browne said the solutions to narcotics, security, and establishing the rule of law are political, not military. 'An overarching campaign plan is required to develop all of these disparate strands together. It has to be a strategic plan, not just a military plan...and there is no organization better placed than the UN to take that role.'
Browne said that if the international community cannot find a political solution, 'then I say to you that we have no moral right to ask our young people to expose themselves to that danger.'
In the meantime, in spite of opposition by the
More than 90 percent of the world's opium comes from
DynCorp, a private mercenary company that has done extensive spraying of coca plants in
Actually, it is quite clear. Coca acreage in
Have gun, will travel?
Widespread use of mercenaries in
'We have observed that in some cases the employees of private military and security companies enjoy an immunity which can easily become impunity,' says Jose Luis Gomez del Pardo, chair of the UN Working Group, 'implying that some states may contract these companies in order to avoid direct legal responsibilities.'
The Working Group found that mercenaries were recruited from throughout Latin America and then flown to
According to the Working Group, mercenaries working for a subsidiary of an Illinois-based company, Your Solutions Inc., suffered 'irregularities in contracts, harsh working conditions, wages partially paid or unpaid, ill-treatment and isolation and lack of basic necessities such as medical treatment and sanitation.' A major reason for using private security companies is that they are not subject to Congressional oversight.
Jeffrey Shipper, who worked at Manta for DynCorp, told the Los Angeles Times that a major reason for using Latin American mercenaries was that, 'The State Department is very interested in saving money on security now. Because they're driving the prices down, we're seeking
While most American and British mercenaries earn up to $10,000 a month, Latin Americans get $1,000. Last summer, dozens of former Colombian soldiers went on strike in
According to the Financial Times, there are hundreds of Mercenaries from
'This was infinitely worse than any armed forces flight would have been. It [a military flight] would have had triple redundancy, with checklists,' the lawyer for the families of the passengers told the New York Times. Even though the plane was unpressurized and flying at 14,000 feet, neither of the pilots was wearing an oxygen mask.
The Americans are not the only ones recruiting mercenaries. Over 1,000 Fijians work in
Dakuvula says that high unemployment in rural areas is the main impetus for signing up to go to
Whether it is Brits or Yanks hiring the mercenaries makes little difference. Getting other people to die for you is cheap and politically safe. The body bags and the maimed return to places most Americans and British will never see or think about.
[Conn Hallinan is a foreign policy analyst for Foreign Policy In Focus (online at www.fpif.org) and a lecturer in journalism at the