Jeremy M. Loveless. Nathanael J. Doring. Richard A. Bennett. James A. Funkhouser. J. Adan Garcia. According to a recent article in the New York Times, these are the names of the five soldiers killed in Iraq over the three-day Memorial Day weekend this year. If I had nothing else to say in this column, I would also name the 24 soldiers killed over Memorial Day weekends since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, along with the 4,000-some Americans who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq since the wars in those countries began. I wish I could also name the Afghan and Iraqi dead, but I do not know anyone who keeps track of their names.
Can you outsource a war? The Bush administration seems to be trying to do just that in Iraq, where it has relied to an unprecedented extent on private companies such as Halliburton and Blackwater to prosecute the war. Before the recent surge in troops, there were about as many private contractors—125,000—in the war zone as regular troops. Between 25,000 and 50,000 of these contractors protect military bases and the Green Zone, guard key personnel, provide escorts for convoys and train Iraqi soldiers. Who is accountable for the close to $4 billion that has gone to these “security services"? And to whom are these mercenaries accountable morally and legally?