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Cowboys and Indians

Or, What's My Lai?

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In keeping with the Bush doctrine of running America like a business, coalition forces in Iraq have been discreetly outsourcing security jobs guarding oil wells, refineries, food convoys and the like to former Indian soldiers. Aside from freeing American personnel of these duties, there is also apparently less chance of Indian security guards being attacked since they are generally more positively received by Iraqis. Perhaps they're somehow being mistaken as liberators.

Many former Indian soldiers receive miserly pensions, so the American job offer is quite attractive. An active Indian Army brigadier earns less than $1000 a month while a private makes close to nothing; their pensions provide a fraction of that. By contrast, a mercenary private can make $750 (American) a month with rates escalating to $3500 for a brigadier. For the personnel-strapped Pentagon, these are bargain rates, solidifying India's reputation as the Super Wal-Mart of Outsourcing.

Discounting the dubious circumvention of the wishes of a sovereign government (India turned down a US request in June 2003 to send a peacekeeping force to Iraq without a UN mandate), this particular outsourcing venture has worked well for BushCo. But things haven't gone quite so well with others, which deteriorated the Brave New Business into a macabre alternate-reality show called "What's My Lai?"

Graphic photos documenting the torture and sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad surfaced last week, leaving six American soldiers facing court martial. Downplayed in most media accounts was the fact that they were allegedly acting under the direct orders of mercenary interrogators hired by the Pentagon. Two US contractors, CACI International and Titan Corporation, supervised interrogations in the prison, functioning outside normal military jurisdiction. Abu Ghraib prison, you might remember, was notorious for the torture and executions of Iraqis under Saddam Hussein. One would assume this wasn't part of the administration's plan to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

But then again, what's an atrocity or two when you're ridding the world of evil? With God and Richard Perle on your side, the ends always justify the means. Right?

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