Monday, January 15, 2007

A sense of the senselessness

An International - English speaking - contact driver was shot and killed in Baghdad's Green Zone the other day. According to the Australian Defence Force, the driver refused to stop for a routine security search only 200m from the Australian embassy.

When he failed to obey the order Australian soldiers fired on the ‘garbage track' sized vehicle and killed the driver. A coalition soldier at the checkpoint also opened fire, it was reported. But it was unclear whether that person was British or American.

The shooting was carried out under well understood rules of engagement and no one is clear why the KRB employed driver chose to ignore the instruction.

There really isn't much more being revealed in various reports. That the Halliburton subsidiary KRB is named as the contractor is hardly surprising, they are the other US face of this strange conflict.

Having recently travelled through various US airports I certainly had the sense that refusal to comply with various security directives could have serious consequences. At times it was almost surreal with TSA personnel friendly and joking one moment and fully focused and unyielding the next.

To be fair, their sense of purpose was clear when it came to the security related instructions - there was no temptation to play with the situation.

Anyone fool enough to be in Baghdad's Green Zone would be aware that they will get more than simply bounced on by a bunch of overweight airport security people. Baghdad is for keeps, the tension simply too high.

Like many I resent the fact that bad policy and initiatives have created needless tension and paranoia within ‘friendly' countries. I resent it doubly when it all comes down to the cost of doing business. The world has been made unreasonably dangerous in pursuit of the dollar, and those behind it have not even managed to do that well.

Another thought:

There is an AP story doing the rounds: Troop 'Surge' No Boost for Defense Cos.

Bush's plans to raise troop levels deployed to Iraq by 21,000 this year will have little effect on 2007 revenue for defense contractors, Wall Street analysts said Thursday…”

But the contractor issue has me thinking about the corporate role in this war zone. I’ve noted the stream of military casualties figures, they are always the focus. Occasionally we are treated to the wider number of civilian deaths and even stories on individual contractor deaths. I just don’t recall seeing any overall numbers on contractors, apart perhaps, of those caught up in various corruption schemes.

It would be interesting to see, in light of the proposed surge, what the real numbers of personnel (including civilians) are in the conflict zones. It gives a whole new meaning to ‘corporate wars’.

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