Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Speaking Again of Leverage . . . in Iraq

Spencer Ackerman at Wired, reminding us all that the withdrawal of US regular combat forces from Iraq by 31 December does not signal the end of US-perpetrated violence in that country.  Why's that?  It's because the US's chief war-fighting force - the CIA, with all those drones and led by the US's most ballyhooed (now retired) general, David Petraeus (Saint David of the Surge) - is hardly pulling out; and, because what amount to three private armies of mercenaries will be attached to the US diplomatic missions at Baghdad, Basra, and Mosul.

These are the same lethal, trigger-happy cowboy-clowns who shot up Baghdad's Nisoor Square in 2007, killing 17 Iraqi bystanders.  They now become the State Department's own little militia.  And if past practice still holds, if one of them misbehaves (as in, "lights up" one of the locals), the US will whisk him out of the country, and not give a rat's ass about what Iraqis may say.

Ackerman concludes:

It’s a situation with the potential for diplomatic disaster. And it’s being managed by an organization with no experience running the tight command structure that makes armies cohesive and effective. . . .

So far, there are three big security firms with lucrative contracts to protect U.S. diplomats. Triple Canopy, a longtime State guard company, has a contract worth up to $1.53 billion to keep diplos safe as they travel throughout Iraq. Global Strategies Group will guard the consulate at Basra for up to $401 million. SOC Incorporated will protect the mega-embassy in Baghdad for up to $974 million. State has yet to award contracts to guard consulates in multiethnic flashpoint cities Mosul and Kirkuk, as well as the outpost in placid Irbil.

“We can have the kind of protection our diplomats need,” Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough told reporters after Obama’s announcement. Whether the Iraqi people will have protection from the contractors that the State Department commands is a different question. And whatever you call their operations, the Obama administration hopes that you won’t be so rude as to call it “war.”

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