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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 1, 2005 / 21 Adar II, 5765

The Iraq War's Outsourcing Snafu

By Max Boot


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Ever since Ronald Reagan proclaimed in his 1981 inaugural address that "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem," leaders at all levels of government, Democrats and Republicans alike, have been outsourcing as much work as possible to the private sector. This is generally a good idea, but when it comes to the military, this trend may have gone too far.

Peter W. Singer, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of "Corporate Warriors," estimates that there are 20,000 to 30,000 civilians in Iraq performing traditional military functions, from maintaining weapons systems to guarding supply convoys. If you add foreigners involved in reconstruction and oil work, the total soars to 50,000 to 75,000. To put this into perspective: All of Washington's allies combined account for 23,000 troops in Iraq. In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, Singer quips that "President George W. Bush's 'coalition of the willing' might thus be more aptly described as the 'coalition of the billing.'"

Let us stipulate that most contractors are upstanding, hardworking individuals who perform valuable and dangerous work. At least 175 have been killed and 900 wounded in Iraq. But their labor has been tarnished by scandals and snafus too numerous to ignore.

Oil-services giant Halliburton and the security firm Custer Battles, among others, have been accused of swindling U.S. taxpayers. Other contractors are said to have been simply ineffective. Vinnell Corp. did such a poor job of training Iraqi army recruits that half of its first battalion walked off the job. The Army had to step in to perform the work itself.

Other companies have been accused of human rights violations: Interrogators from CACI International were in the middle of the Abu Ghraib mess. And still others have caused major problems by failing to coordinate with the military chain of command. The most notorious example was the decision by four Blackwater employees to enter Fallouja on March 31, 2004, without notifying the local Marine garrison. Their well-publicized deaths in an ambush forced the Marines into a costly offensive to try to regain control of the city.

There is nothing new or nefarious about privatizing military support functions. But, in Iraq, the contractors aren't just building latrines or staffing mess halls. They're also running around with assault rifles and black body armor performing "tactical" functions. Many are well-trained U.S. or British veterans, but others are Rambo wannabes or sordid desperados. Among the mercenaries who have surfaced in Iraq are South Africans who were members of apartheid-era death squads and Chileans who served in Pinochet's security services.

When U.S. service members are accused of wrongdoing, they are investigated and, if necessary, court-martialed. That's not the case with civilians who are generally not covered by the laws of their home countries for crimes committed abroad. The Iraqi legal system could hold them to account, but in practice Baghdad won't do anything that might lead to an exodus of foreign firms. Dozens of U.S. and British soldiers have been prosecuted for misconduct in Iraq — but not a single contractor.

A lack of accountability leads to occurrences such as those described by four former Custer Battles employees who claim that poorly trained Kurds on the firm's payroll killed innocent motorists. In one incident, a guard supposedly fired his AK-47 into a passenger car to clear a traffic jam. In another, an aggressive driver in a giant pickup truck allegedly pulverized a sedan with children inside. When true (the firm denies any wrongdoing), such incidents only create more insurgent recruits.

U.S. policymakers argue that they have to rely on private help because the U.S. armed forces simply aren't big enough to do everything, and allies have not made up the shortfall. But that's an argument for expanding the armed forces, not for hiring a lot of freelance gunslingers. Administration officials complain that a bigger army is too expensive, but are they really saving money by relying on privateers?

The most valued contractors are experienced former U.S. Special Forces operatives whose training cost the Pentagon hundreds of thousands of dollars. They are being lured out of uniform by the promise of making $500 to $1,000 a day. (If they stay in the service they'll be lucky to make $140 a day.) And where does that money come from? Pretty much all the foreign firms in Iraq are paid by the U.S. Treasury. So the government is in competition with itself for its most skilled and hard-to-replace soldiers. Does this sort of outsourcing really make sense?

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BOOT'S LATEST
The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power  

The book was selected as one of the best books of 2002 by The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and The Christian Science Monitor. It also won the 2003 General Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award, given annually by the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation for the best nonfiction book pertaining to Marine Corps history. Sales help fund JWR.



Max Boot is Olin Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He is also a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and a weekly columnist for the Los Angeles Times. To comment, please click here.


03/25/05: Why neither party is serious about solving the growing gas crisis

© 2005, Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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