Wartime profits are a thing — from the people who make the machines we use to kill other people to the garment factories that provide clothing for the people who do the killing, there is money to be made keeping the war machine equipped. Eisenhower, the retired Army general we elected president in 1952, warned against an economy fueled by war — the military industrial complex. Simply put, waging war requires stuff and stuff requires people to make it and making stuff provides jobs. Ergo, when there is a war machine there are jobs. Eisenhower suggested we might not want to make our economy dependent on these kinds of jobs lest we lose our souls. Clearly, we turned a deaf ear to him.
Now there’s another way to profit from war — through private military corporations. Instead of private corporations manufacturing fighter jets or combat boots, the private military corporation contracts to supply the people flying the planes and wearing the boots. No longer do U.S. military personnel come home with moral injury, post-traumatic stress, missing limbs, or not come home at all; now we contract for others to absorb these horrors. Of course, the private soldiers and sailors might still be our children, but they would be working for corporate American and not the U.S. Government. Somehow this is touted as more desirable.
Two of the people currently closest to the President, chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and senior advisor (and son-in-law) Jared Kushner, have hatched a plan to outsource the war in Afghanistan. It’s no coincidence that they are concocting this plan with their good friends, Erik Prince, of Blackwater fame, and Steve Fineberg, owner of the military contractor DynCorp International and a substantial contributor to the Trump presidential campaign. This gets us closer to the answer to exactly who will profit from the new arrangement.
Such war outsourcing, so the argument goes, takes the politics out of war. Yet, it also absolves the warriors of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, erasing command confidence and accountability. Word has it that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary James Mattis, having served in key command positions when Blackwater wreaked havoc in Iraq, are not keen on the idea. Constellations have formed, however, that could sway even them to consider alternatives for the longest running American war.
The immorality of war for followers of the one who announced: “all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52) and also reprimanded his sword-wielding followers with: “No more of this!” (Luke 22:51), goes without saying. Even those who have found chinks in this iron-clad argument through Just War Theory and Moral Necessity, should find a privatized military abhorrent. If we must engage in war, the least we can do is own it ourselves and then care for those we thrust into harm’s way after they have done our work. There can be no profit in this.