A defense contractor hired mercenaries from Africa for $16 a day to guard American bases in Iraq, with one of the company’s former directors saying no checks were made on whether those hired were former child soldiers.
The director of Aegis Defense Services between 2005 and 2015, said contractors recruited from countries such as Sierra Leone to reduce costs for the U.S. occupation in Iraq. He said none of the estimated 2,500 boys recruited from Sierra Leone were checked to see if they were former child soldiers who had been forced to fight in the country’s civil war.
They were considered merely cheaper options to fulfill contracts to defend US bases in Iraq, enabling Aegis to realize higher profits.
At Mises.org, Jeff Deist interviews Daniel McAdams, head of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. Daniel is a foreign policy expert, having worked for many years on Capitol Hill and as an election monitor in eastern Europe. Daniel and Jeff discuss the role Dr. Paul played in creating the noninterventionist populism visible in both the Trump and Sanders campaigns, and how the public now sees the Iraq war as a mistake. Daniel also discusses the depth and reach of the "war party" lobby, marked by well-funded think tanks, a revolving door of hawkish congressional staffers, and brazen manipulation of the federal budget by defense contractors. How do neoconservative interests get their hooks into members of Congress? How do people like Bill Kristol (who never seems to be right about anything), maintain their grip on the US foreign policy establishment? And, how do ordinary people reclaim the narrative from those who would recklessly expand US intervention in Syria and Iran?
It was US intervention in the Middle East, say the Saudis, that led us to create first al-Qaeda and then ISIS. The US attack on Iraq tipped the balance in the region in favor of Iran and counter-measures needed to be taken. This is nothing new. The CIA helped create and back the Mujahideen in Afghanistan to counter the 1979 Soviet invasion. And the CIA knew about (at the least) Saudi plans to counter Iran’s rise in the region and the uncertainty produced by US-instigated “Arab Spring” beginning in 2011. The lesson? Interventionism has consequences, some intended and some unintended. Usually counter to the stated objectives. Trying to order the world, the central planners have only created chaos.
Civilians will continue to pay a heavy price in the ongoing US war on at least seven other countries. According to a recent article, the Pentagon has issued new rules permitting a strike on a target even if up to ten innocent civilians may also get killed. Additionally, the “signature strikes” (whereby any male of military age is considered a target regardless of his actions) that were supposed to be phased out, have continued unabated. Will all this killing of innocents overseas make us more, or less, safe?
One concrete outcome that President Obama could pursue on his visit to Saudi Arabia is saving the lives of three Shia youth sentenced to be executed, most likely by beheading, for participating in nonviolent protests. Sparing their lives could also help ease the Shia/Sunni tensions that have engulfed the region.
Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon, and Abdullah al-Zaher are members of the minority Shia community that has, for decades, been demanding equality and full civil rights. The Shia represent 10-15 percent of the Saudi population and live mainly in the oil-rich Eastern province. Ever since the Saudi state was founded in 1932 by forming a pact with the Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam, the Shia in Saudi Arabia have endured state-sponsored discrimination, social marginalization, and campaigns of violence waged by anti-Shiite hardliners. According to Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, “All the Saudi Shia want is for their government to respect their identity and treat them equally. Yet Saudi authorities routinely treat these people with scorn and suspicion.” The persecution of the three youth is deeply sectarian, and reflects the long history of oppression the Shia have faced in Saudi Arabia.
There’s a new and horrifying first-hand account of the US drone war that recently made it into a mainstream news publication. Over at The Independent in the UK, they present the story of Malik Jalal, a Pakistani man that is trying to get off the US’s “Kill List”.
At this point, the skeptical reader might reasonably wonder how exactly one learns that they are on the Kill List. After all, it’s not like you can just call up a Congressman to ask. (And given the US’s history of accidentally targeting people based on similar names or misinterpretations, it’s not entirely clear how reliable such a service would be at any rate.) No, instead, Jalal has learned of his status by experiencing multiple brushes with death at the hands of drones. These included the following:
When an SUV identical to his own was behind him on the road and struck by a drone missile
When he lent his car to his nephew to go get an oil change, and the mechanic’s shop was bombed by drones
When he was on his way to a friend’s house and saw the house get bombed before he arrived
When he told friends he would meet them for lunch, and the place of the meeting was also bombed before his arrival
When he was running late to tribal jirga (roughly akin to a townhall or city council meeting), and the jirga was bombed, killing at least 40 people.
Of course, there are a few ways we could interpret this story. On the one hand, some will certainly try to downplay it and claim he has made it up. But this doesn’t really seem like the kind of thing people would use to get 15 minutes of fame. As a general rule, if you live in a targeted region of the world and speak Arabic, making loud statements about the depredations of US foreign policy is probably a bad move if you have an interest in self-preservation. That’s a horrible reality, but we should acknowledge that it probably is a reality. After all, it’s not like any of the people targeted for assassination are ever proven guilty, so there’s nothing at all standing in the way of targeting simple critics and calling them militants later. It goes without saying that most of the media will not challenge that determination.