Sunday, January 30, 2005

The morality of military outsourcing

Much to say about today's events, and I would start by looking at the discussion over at Liberals Against Terrorism.

But before more time passes, I would be remiss if I didn't point to this very nice piece in the Miami Herald the other day by Geoff Thale, from the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). He writes about a subject near and dear to my heart, the issue of outsourcing security forces from Latin America to Iraq, about which I first speculated back in April, and which was first written about in the media here in El Salvador last October. Geoff gives a moral and political argument against such practices:

... in the case of the U.S. war in Iraq, when those who do some of the fighting and dying are not U.S. soldiers, not members of allied military forces, not even U.S. private contractors working for the Pentagon, but private citizens of another country, whose injuries and deaths will have no impact on the political debate in the United States, then democracy is being undermined, and war is being fought without a public weighing of the costs.

Our leaders shouldn't be recruiting Latin Americans (or others) to stand in our place, or pay the ultimate price in U.S. military conflicts, to avoid political debates at home.

Of course, irregardless of the fact that there are already some 40,000 non-U.S. citizens fighting in the U.S. military, according to AFSC, and that "noncitizens in the military are more likely than citizens in the military to serve in active duty units," I'm not so sure that this kind of outsourcing automatically undermines democracy. Democracy is only undermined if we fail to consider these recruits as much as we consider U.S. casualties. Then again, sadly, it's a pretty safe assumption that we will not value the lives of non-U.S. citizens as much as we do our own.

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