Archive for December, 2008

“Soldier of Misfortune”

2 December 2008

From Tuesday’s Post:

[Iraq] was a war with its own original sin: the Bush administration’s failure to provide enough troops. To make up the shortfall, the government chose to outsource responsibility for deciding who can kill and die for the United States to for-profit companies that employed tens of thousands of soldiers-for-hire: mercenaries, or private security contractors, as they were known. The mercenaries developed their own language and subculture, and they fought their own secret battles under their own rules — “Big Boy Rules,” as they called their playbook, with more than a hint of condescension, to distinguish it from the constraints of the military’s formal code. They weren’t counted by our government, alive or dead.

Near the end of the excerpt, the author offers a bitingly poignant remark: “The official American death toll in Iraq that day was 4,047. The number did not change when Jon’s body was identified.”

The thought of American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines dying in this war is harrowing enough; that we have suffered the consequences of this war’s “original sin”, as Steve Fainaru aptly dubs it, is, to me, insufferably tragic and inexcusable.

Crossposted.

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