Toward the New Rome,

The Institutions of American Militarism,

Surrogate Soldiers and Private Mercenaries

excerpted from the book

The Sorrows of Empire

Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic

by Chalmers Johnson

Henry Holt, 2004, paper


Most neocons have their roots on the left, not on the right. A number of them came out of the Trotskyist movement of the 1930s and 1940s. During the first thirty years of the Cold War, they adopted an anticommunist liberalism, which during the Reagan administration led them to embrace militarism and rightwing imperialism.

Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and the Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy, analyzed the U.S. response to eight major international agreements, including the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty,
Nicole Deller, coauthor of the report

"The United States has violated, compromised, or acted to undermine in some crucial way every treaty that we have studied in detail... [The United States] "not only refuses to participate in newly created legal mechanisms, it fails to live up to obligations undertaken in treaties that it has ratified?"

According to the report [Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and the Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy]

[The United States is] "drifting away from regarding treaties as an essential element in global security to a more opportunistic stand of abiding by treaties only when it is convenient."

On March 11, 2003, the ICC began formal operations in The Hague considering charges of war crimes committed after July 1, 2002. Anticipating that development, both houses of Congress passed the American Services Members' Protection Act, which would, in effect, allow the 'United States to use military force to free any American citizen held by the court.

Prosecutors in Chile, Argentina, Spain, and France would like to put former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on trial for his support and sponsorship of f the military dictatorships of Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina, and Ecuador while, in the 1970s, they were killing, torturing, and "disappearing" their own citizens and those of neighboring lands.

... the U.S. Army has 480,000 members, the navy 375,000, the air force 359,000, and the marines 175,000, for a total of 1,389,000 men and women on active duty. The payroll for these uniformed personnel in 2003 was $27.1 billion for the active army, $22 billion each for the navy and air force, and $8.6 billion for the marines. Today, the federal government can tap into and listen to all citizens' phone calls, faxes, and e-mail transmissions if it chooses to. It has begun to incarcerate native-born and naturalized citizens as well as immigrants and travelers in military prisons without bringing charges against them. The president alone decides who is an "illegal belligerent' a term the Bush administration introduced, and there is no appeal from his decision. Much of the defense budget and all intelligence agency budgets are secret. These are all signs of militarism and of the creation of a national security state.



... recruiting and retaining enough people to staff all the outposts and ships of the empire is a full-time job, and the military has become extremely creative in finding ways to lure young men and women into signing up. A standard ploy by recruiters is to obtain the names, addresses, and phone numbers of students in a community's high schools and flood their homes with unsolicited mail, phone calls, prowar videos, and T-shirts emblazoned with slogans. The message is aimed at parents as well as students and stresses the benefits of serving in the armed forces, including possible help toward a college education. When the recruiters get an interview with a prospect, they are obliged to ask whether he or she has ever smoked marijuana. According to many reports, if the student answers yes, they just keep asking the same question until the answer is no and then write that down .

Complaints about harassment by military recruiters in San Diego, California, became so numerous in 1993 that the San Diego Unified School District adopted a policy against releasing student information to recruiters of any kind. From then on, the military mobilized politicians, the chamber of commerce, the superintendent of schools, even the county grand jury to pressure the school board to reverse itself. Yet in those years of "the ban' the Pentagon's message was never absent from the San Diego schools because there are eleven Junior ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) units embedded in the city's high schools that function as permanent on-campus recruiting centers. Finally the military decided to take a national legislative route to force all public high schools to allow recruiters to proselytize under threat of a cutoff of federal funds for education.

In 2000, President Clinton signed a new law promoted by the Pentagon that gave military recruiters the same access to high schools granted to college and business recruiters. This law contained no penalties for refusal, however, and exempted schools wherever an official districtwide policy, as in San Diego, had been adopted restricting military access. To overcome these obstacles, in 2001 the Pentagon engineered an amendment to a new law intended to help disadvantaged students. This amended law, which President Bush called (without apparent irony) his No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, states: "Any secondary school that receives federal funds under this Act shall permit regular United States Armed Services recruitment activities on school grounds, in a manner reasonably accessible to all students of such school?' The House of Representatives passed it by a vote of 366-57. The Senate did the same by a voice vote, and on January 8, 2002, President Bush signed it into law. As Representative John Shimkus (R-Illinois) said triumphantly, "No recruiters, no money?

By far the most powerful tool of the Department of Defense in promoting its image and protecting its interests from public scrutiny is official secrecy-the so-called black programs paid for through the "black budget?' Reliance on a budget that systematically attempts to confuse and disinform the public started during World War II with the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb. All funds allocated for nuclear weapons research and development were hidden in fake accounts of the War Department and never made public to Congress or the people. The president and the military made the decision entirely on their own to develop the first "weapons of mass destruction?'

With the onset of the Cold War, the Pentagon became addicted to a black-budget way of life. After passage in 1949 of the Central Intelligence Act, all funds for the CIA were (and still are) secretly contained in the Department of Defense's published budget under camouflaged names. As the president, the Pentagon, and the CIA created new intelligence agencies, the black budget expanded exponentially. In 1952, President Truman signed a still-secret seven-page charter creating the National Security Agency, which is devoted to signals and communications espionage; in 1960, President Eisenhower set up the even more secret National Reconnaissance Office, which runs our spy satellites; in 1961, President Kennedy launched the Defense Intelligence Agency, the personal intelligence organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense; and in 1996, President Clinton combined several agencies into the National Imagery and Mapping Agency. The budgets of these ever-proliferating intelligence organizations are all unpublished, but estimates of their size are possible. In August 1994, an internal Pentagon memorandum was accidentally leaked to and published in Defense Week, a weapons-trade magazine. According to this memo, the NSA at that time spent $3.5 billion

The official name for the black budget is "Special Access Programs" (SAPs), which are classified well above "top secret?' ("SAP" may be a subtle or unintentional bureaucratic reference to the taxpayer.) SAPs are divided into three basic types: weapons research and acquisition (AQSAP), operations and support, including much of the funds for the various Special Forces (OS-SAP), and intelligence (IN-SAP). Only a few members of Congress receive briefings on them, and this limited sharing of information itself came about only late in the Cold War, in the wake of the Watergate scandals. Moreover, at the discretion of the secretary of defense, the reporting requirement may be waived or transmitted orally to only eight designated members of Congress. These "waived SAPs" are the blackest of black holes. The General Accounting Office has identified at least 185 black programs and notes that they increased eightfold during the 1981-86 period. There is no authoritative total, but the GAO once estimated that $30 to $35 billion per year was devoted to secret military and intelligence spending. According to a report of the independent Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, black programs requested in President Bush's 2004 defense budget are at the highest level since 1988.

As with the seemingly unstoppable growth of secrecy within the government, so too has there been implacable pressure from the Pentagon to expand its functions and seize bureaucratic turf from other agencies. There are many aspects to this problem, but perhaps the most important politically, and certainly one of the clearest signs of militarism in America, is the willingness of some senior officers and civilian militarists to meddle in domestic policing. The U.S. Constitution establishes a clear separation between the activities of the armed forces in the defense of the country and law enforcement under the penal codes of the various states. James Madison so feared military dominance that he wrote in The Federalist, No. 41, "a standing [military] force is a dangerous provision?' While this fear was rooted in the political preoccupations of the American Revolution, it did not become a pressing issue until the disputed presidential election of 1876, when troops were dispatched to polling stations in three southern states-South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. Rutherford B. Hayes, a northerner from Ohio, won by only one electoral vote in a situation comparable to the disputed Florida election of 2000, when the Supreme Court rather than the military interfered in state affairs.

The purpose of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 was to prevent the military from ever again engaging in police activities without the consent of Congress or the president. Posse comitatus, Latin for "power of the country," is a medieval term for the English practice of a sheriff summoning citizens to help him arrest a criminal or quell a civil disturbance. In nineteenth-century America, the phrase was shortened simply to "posse?' Although the act has been modified many times to allow the military to aid in drug interdiction and help patrol the Mexican border, it still is meant to ensure that the standing army will not have any role in policing American citizens in their own country.

However, the rise of militarism, aided by the attacks of September 11, 2001, has eroded these old distinctions. By expanding the meaning of national security to include counterterrorism and controlling immigration, areas in which it now actively participates, the Pentagon has moved into the domestic policy business. The Department of Defense has, for instance, drafted operational orders to respond to what it calls a CIDCON ("civilian disorder condition"). During the Republican Party's convention in Philadelphia in August 2000, for example, the Pentagon placed on alert in case of a large-scale terrorist incident a "Joint Task Force-Civil Support" based at Fort Monroe, Virginia, and "Task Force 250?' Task Force 250 is actually the army's Eighty-second Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina."

During the summer of 2002, the Bush administration directed lawyers in the Departments of Justice and Defense to review the Posse Comitatus Act and any other laws that might restrict the military's ability to participate in domestic law enforcement. At the time, the Defense Department was creating a new regional command to defend North America, comparable to those for Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific. The Northern Command, based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, is intended to better position the military to respond to terrorism close to home and to prevent the introduction of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons into the United States. (Even during World War II, the federal government did not create a centralized command for the American mainland, because of concerns that it could become the basis for a military dictatorship.) The command's jurisdiction includes the United States, Mexico, Canada, and Cuba. Neither the Mexicans, the Canadians, nor, of course, the Cubans were consulted. This new headquarters, like that of the other regional "CINCs" (commanders m chief), will exist largely outside either the civilian or the military chains of command. CINCs are, in fact, comparable to Roman proconsuls, except that the men assigned to that post in the Roman Republic had already held the highest office in the realm, that of consul, and were deeply trusted civilians and military veterans.

The first CINC of the Northern Command is General Ralph E. Eberhart of the air force, another former head of the Space Command. On his appointment, Eberhart said, "We should always be reviewing things like Posse Comitatus and other laws if we think it ties our hands in protecting the American people." It seemed not to have occurred to Eberhart that the Posse Comitatus Act was intended to protect Americans from generals like himself.

In 1997, responsibility for shaping key foreign political and military strategies was officially given to the regional commanders (called commanders in chief, or CINCs, until October 2002, when Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, apparently feeling threatened by their growing power, rechristened them "combatant commanders"). These semiautonomous generals and admirals perform functions that until the 1990s had been handled primarily by civilian officials.

In the Middle East (CENTCOM), the Pacific (PACOM), Europe (EUCOM), and Latin America (SOUTHCOM), the CINCs oversee such things as intelligence, special operations, space assets, nuclear forces, arms sales, and military bases; and they produce what are called "theater engagement plans." These are essentially mini-foreign policy statements for each region and include explicit programs to cultivate close relations with local military organizations .411 This is done chiefly by deploying approximately 7,000 Special Forces soldiers in 150 countries to train local militaries in what is called "foreign internal defense" (FID)-in many cases merely a euphemism for the techniques of state terrorism. The training missions allow the United States to spy on these countries, sell them weapons, and encourage their armies to carry out policies the Pentagon favors. Everything is done very quietly and with virtually no political oversight.

Over time, the CINCs have become more influential in their regions than ambassadors. When General Anthony C. Zinni of the marines was head of CENTCOM, he had twenty ambassadors serving under him and a personal political adviser with ambassadorial rank. PACOM (also known as CINCPAC) supervises the affairs of forty-three countries. Each CINC has at his disposal virtually unlimited funds, his own airplanes and helicopters, and numerous staff officers. A CINC reports directly to the president and the secretary of defense, avoiding the service chiefs and the normal chain of command.

When, in October 1999, General Pervez Musharraf carried out a military coup d'etat in Pakistan, President Clinton telephoned to protest and asked to be called back. Musharraf instead called General Zinni and reportedly began, "Tony, I want to tell you what I am doing' General Zinni ignored the congressional ban on foreign aid to a country that has undergone a military coup and emerged as one of Musharraf's strongest supporters before 9/11.

Immediately following the terrorist attacks of September 11 - once it had been established that al-Qaeda was the probable terrorist organization responsible - Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz ordered Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith to set up a special intelligence unit within the Pentagon. Its specific purpose was to find links between al-Qaeda and the regime of President Saddam Hussein of Iraq even though the CIA did not believe such links existed. Feith, like his bosses, had held several defense positions in the Reagan administration, including special counsel to then Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle, and was part of a group of officials strongly influenced by Vice President Dick Cheney, the former secretary of defense. From the moment the new Bush administration was formed, this group passionately wanted to go to war with Iraq. Feith had been, in the words of the New York Times, "data mining" to find an al Qaeda connection to Saddam Hussein that would justify an American war against him. Wolfowitz, Feith, and their associates were "intent on politicizing intelligence to fit their hawkish views."

It soon developed that the chief obstacle to these efforts was the Central Intelligence Agency. Its operatives and analysts could find no connection between Iraq and the attacks of September 11. The agency also believed that the secular regime in Iraq was unlikely to have anything to do with the militantly Islamicist al-Qaeda and doubted that Saddam Hussein would supply terrorists beyond his control with any kind of weaponry that could be traced back to him. This difference of opinion soon developed into a full-blown bureaucratic turf war.



Particularly since the end of the Cold War, the military has developed close relations with myriad governments and officer corps in the Third World and has put immense effort into military-to-military training programs. During the 1990s, leaders in both political parties concluded that many foreign policy goals could best be fostered through such military-to-military contacts and weapons sales as opposed to traditional economic and diplomatic ties. One program for implementing such policies, the State Department's International Military Education and Training Program (IMET), has increased fourfold since 1994. In 1990, it was offering military instruction to the armies of 96 countries; by 2002, that already impressive number had risen to 133 countries. There are only 189 countries in the United Nations, which means that this single program "instructs" militaries in 70 percent of the world's nations. In recent years we have been training approximately 100,000 foreign soldiers each year-and here we are ordinarily talking about officers who then can pass on American methods to their troops. In 2001, the military taught 15,030 officers and men in Latin America alone. The Pentagon either brings the trainees to about 150 different military educational institutions in the United States or sends military instructors, almost always army Special Forces, to the countries themselves. The war on terrorism only accelerated these trends. Funding for IMET rose from $58 million in fiscal year 2001 to $80 million for 2003, a jump of 38 percent.

The United States claims that it trains foreign armies as a way of teaching them American values and models of civil-military relations. Pentagon officials regularly assure congressional committees that educating foreign soldiers helps correct the civil rights records of sometimes abusive militaries. However, Lora Lumpe, the leading authority on the subject, concludes, "Most of the programs have had no discernible focus on human rights and have been carried out in a highly, if not completely, unaccountable manner."

The United States has two alternative ways of implementing its [foreign military] training programs, each with different unintended consequences. Both have long-standing precedents in the practices of the British Empire, of which the United States has become a dutiful if not particularly inspired pupil. I call these the "sepoy strategy" and the "private military companies strategy:' The word sepoy probably derives from the Urdu word for "horseman" or "soldier' and the sepoy strategy once involved training "native" troops to serve in regiments commanded by British officers or in imperial Indian regiments thought to be loyal to the British crown, which were normally composed of Sikh and Gurkha mercenaries. In 1857, at the time of the Sepoy Mutiny-which Indian nationalists call their "first war of independence"-Britain deployed an army of 300,000 soldiers in India, 96 percent of whom were sepoys. The fact that, when push came to shove, they proved not to be loyal to Britain highlights one of the major potential pitfalls of this approach.

The classic American example of the employment of sepoys was in the "secret war" in Laos that stretched from 1960 to 1975. Army Green Berets and the CIA supplied clandestine aid to French-trained General Vang Pao of the Laotian army, who, in turn, recruited a 30,000-strong army of Hmong tribesmen to fight the Pathet Lao Communist forces allied with North Vietnam. Vang Pao became a hero to American strategists in Saigon and Washington-the best puppet we ever found in Indochina. Our most important form of aid to him was air power. We backed the Hmong fighters with bombing missions from our bases in Thailand. We also used the CIA's private airline, Air America, to supply the scattered Hmong villages with arms, rice, and other supplies and then transported their main cash crop, opium, to Vang Pao's headquarters in the Plain of Jars. From there the opium went on to supply American troops fighting in Vietnam and, via underworld traffickers, on to the international market.

When, after 1969, the Pathet Lao began to defeat the Hmong guerrillas, Air America evacuated thousands of them to refugee camps under Vang Pao's control and carpet-bombed the Hmong villages that had been overrun. Ultimately, after the collapse of anti-Communist resistance throughout Indochina, the CIA evacuated Vang Pao and thousands of his supporters to the United States, where they now live. Britain's sepoys, Vang Pao and the Hmong always remained loyal to the CIA. As Alfred McCoy, the leading authority on the opium trade that accompanied this secret war, notes, "While the U.S. military sent half a million troops to fight a conventional war in South Vietnam, this mountain warfare required only a handful of American personnel

The private military companies strategy is typified by the Vinnell Corporation of Fairfax, Virginia, a subsidiary of the large defense conglomerate Northrop Grumman. Vinnell was created by retired American military officers and, since 1975, has been licensed by the government to train the Saudi National Guard, the 100,000-strong force that protects the monarchy and serves as a counterweight to any threat from the regular armed forces. Over the years Vinnell has constructed, run, written doctrine for, and staffed five Saudi military academies, seven shooting ranges, and a health care system, while training and equipping four Saudi mechanized brigades and five infantry brigades. Saudi Arabia has, in turn, funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into major defense corporations to equip these forces, which briefly saw action in the first Gulf War by recapturing the Saudi town of Khai, on the Kuwait border, from the Iraqis.'

Vinnell is one of about thirty-five private rent-a-trainer, rent-a-mercenary, and rent-a-cop companies whose leaders and employees, mostly retired high-ranking officers and members of the Special Forces, hire themselves out to the government and its foreign allies to perform any number of military tasks, including troop training. Since these companies are private contractors, they are not subject to military discipline and their operations remain the proprietary secrets of the companies, not subject to any form of public oversight. From the 1950s to the 1970s, the British and South Africans created similar companies of mercenaries to train and sometimes fight alongside both governmental and insurgent forces in the Middle East, Angola, and Sierra Leone. The United States also hired private companies to train South Vietnamese military forces and police during the 1960s and 1970s, but to little avail. I will return to the American private companies below, but let us first consider our record with sepoys.

IMET was created in 1976 in the wake of the Nixon Doctrine, that forlorn attempt to "Vietnamize" the Vietnam War-that is, to shift to the principle that "Asian boys should fight Asian wars." IMET's primary mode of operation was-and remains-to pay foreign officers and soldiers to take courses at such places as the National Defense University in Washington, DC; the U.S. Army Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, Arizona; the Naval Special Warfare Center (headquarters of the SEALs) at Coronado, California; the Inter-American Air Force Academy at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas; the Air Force Special Operations Command's school at Huriburt Field, Fort Walton Beach, Florida; and the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

By far the most notorious of these institutions is the Spanish-language School of the Americas (SOA), which, to evade a congressional order that it be closed, in 2000 renamed itself the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC). This ruse, which fooled no one, nonetheless formally stopped the movement to abolish SOA. Founded in 1946 and situated in the then American colony of the Canal Zone, it was evicted in 1984 by the Panamanian government, whose president, Jorge Illueca, termed it the "biggest base for destabilization in Latin America?' SOA/WHISC is now located on the grounds of the army base at Fort Benning, Georgia. Over the years it has trained well over 60,000 Latin American military and police officers, significant numbers of whom have been implicated in cases of torture, rape, massacre, and assassination. Among them was Roberto D'Aubuisson, the leader of El Salvador's rightwing death squads. Lower-level SOA graduates have participated in human rights abuses that include the March 24, 1980, assassination of El Salvador's Archbishop Oscar Romero (in which the CIA may have been implicated) and the December 1981 El Mozote massacre of 900 Salvadoran civilians. As of late 2002, civil war-torn Colombia's army includes some 10,000 SOA/WHISC graduates.

In 1996, the American press discovered that between 1982 and 1991 the SOA adopted as textbooks seven different Spanish-language manuals based on a U.S. Army original that called for "neutralizing [i.e., killing] government officials, political leaders, and members of the infrastructure?' These manuals were distributed to thousands of military officers in eleven South and Central American countries. According to a Pentagon spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Arne Owens, "The problem was discovered in 1992, properly reported, and fixed ?'9 WHISC remains the focus of a widespread protest movement led by Father Roy Bourgeois, a former navy officer who is today a Maryknoll priest. He has been arrested many times at Fort Benning. Should he and his supporters ever succeed in closing down the school on U.S. soil, the Bush administration has announced backup plans for a successor in Costa Rica.

The rich rival of the State Department's IMET program is the Pentagon's Foreign Military Financing (FMF), which gives money to countries to buy American weapons and then supplies training in how to use them. Appropriations for IMET in fiscal year 2001 were $57,875,000, with proposed expenditures for 2003 of $80,000,000-whereas the FMF appropriations are in the billions and still rising. In 2001, the Pentagon received $3,576,240,000 and promptly put in a request of $4,107,200,000 for 2003. Such differences between the two programs reflect the fact that the Pentagon's budget is almost twenty times larger than the State Department's. J A major portion of the Pentagon's funds traditionally goes to Israel, but the biggest proposed recipients in the FMF 2003 budget were Jordan, at $198 million (plus IMET of $2.4 million); Colombia at $98 million (IMET of $1.2 million); India at $50 million (IMET of $1 million); Pakistan at $50 million (IMET of $1 million); Turkey at $17.5 million (IMET of $350,000); and Uzbekistan at $8.75 million (IMET of $1.2 million). These sums represented the first FMF payments to Colombia, India, and Pakistan in recent years. Uzbekistan, which has one of the worst human rights records anywhere, is a new recipient.

In 1999, after East Timor gained its independence through a United Nations-sponsored referendum, militias under Indonesian military guidance pursued a relentless campaign of "ethnic cleansing" against the island's civilian population. This time the Clinton administration instituted a ban on all forms of military assistance to Indonesia, a ban still in effect at the time of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In December 2001, the Pentagon inserted a clause into the Defense Appropriations Act establishing a new "Regional Counter-Terrorism Defense Fellowship Program' worth $17.9 million. Completely independent of IMET, FMF, and JCET, this program now brings Indonesian military officers to the United States for training. The Pentagon uses several other practices to evade congressional restrictions on its relations with foreign militaries, evidence of a mind-set consistent with militarism.

Between 1979 and 1989, the CIA supplied mujahideen ("freedom fighter") groups with over $2 billion worth of light weapons, including Stinger antiaircraft missile launchers, and offered instruction in how to use them against the Soviet forces occupying Afghanistan. The Americans were uninterested in the religious beliefs, political loyalties, or attitudes toward the West of those they were recruiting, training, and arming.' Once the Soviet Union was defeated, the Americans abandoned Afghanistan to its fate and the Afghan freedom fighters, mainly Islamic fundamentalists, turned against the United States. The deployment of thousands of American military forces to Saudi Arabia, site of Islam's two most sacred sites, and support for Israel only increased their resentment. Muslim militants retaliated throughout the 1990s, attacking New York's World Trade Center in 1993, U.S. military apartment towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996, American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and the navy destroyer USS Cole in 2000. It is possible to think of the suicidal attacks of September 11 as a contemporary version of the Sepoy Mutiny-even though the Bush administration has done everything in its power to ensure that Americans do not think such things.

America's military trains and equips its sepoys directly, but increasingly it also does so through private companies beyond the knowledge and control of Congress. The top thirty-five of these private military companies are among the most profitable businesses in the country today. The main ones are Vinnell Corporation; Military Professional Resources, Inc., best known by its acronym, MPRI, located in Alexandria, Virginia, and owned by L3 Communications; Kellogg Brown & Root, the legendary Texas company that bankrolled Lyndon Johnson's political career and is today a subsidiary of the Halliburton Corporation; DynCorp of Reston, Virginia, which became notorious during the late 1990s when it was discovered that some of its employees in Bosnia were keeping under-aged women as sex slaves and then selling them elsewhere in Europe (DynCorp simply fired these employees); Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) of San Diego, whose top five executives made between $825,000 and $1.8 million in salaries in 2001 and held more than $1.5 million worth of stock options each; BDM International of Fairfax, Virginia; Armor Holdings of Jacksonville, Florida; Cubic Applications, Inc., of San Diego; DFI International (originally Defense Forecasts, Inc.) of Washington, DC; and International Charter, Inc., of Oregon.

These private military companies are not small organizations. DynCorp has 23,000 employees, Cubic some 4,500, and MPRI about 700 full-time staff members with a roster of 10,000 retired military personnel it can call on. One authority on these new mercenaries, Deborah Avant of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, estimates that the revenues of the private military companies, which were at $55.6 billion in 1990, will rise to $202 billion by 2010. The companies even have their own industry trade group, the International Peace Operations Association-a name George Orwell would have cherished.

It is not just foreigners these companies train. Until March 2002, MPRI held the contract to run the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs in some 217 American universities. ROTC offers college money to students in return for taking some military courses, wearing uniforms on campus, training during part of the summer at a military base, and accepting a commission in the army reserve upon graduation. When it lost its bid to continue running the ROTC programs, MPRI picked up a contract to operate the nation's military recruiting stations. Both MPRI and Cubic are active in developing curricula, writing doctrine, and running educational programs for military officers as well as training military press attaches. Much of this privatization of our armed forces is actually deeply disliked by uniformed professionals. As Colonel Bruce Grant notes, "Privatization is a way of going around Congress and not telling the public. Foreign policy is made by default by private military consultants motivated by bottom-line profits."

Brown & Root, long known in Texas for its political connections, was acquired in 1962 by the oil-drilling and construction company Halliburton. Dick Cheney was secretary of defense when Brown & Root first began to supply logistical services to the army. According to an investigative report by Robert Bryce in the Austin Chronicle, Cheney is the author of the idea that the military's logistical operations should be privatized. He was trying not so much to increase efficiency as to reward the private sector. He basically asked how private companies could assist the army in cutting hundreds of thousands of jobs. "In 1992, the Pentagon, then under Cheney's direction, paid Brown & Root $3.9 million to produce a classified report detailing how private companies-like itself-could help provide logistics for American troops in potential war zones around the world. Later in 1992, the Pentagon gave the firm an additional $5 million to update its report. That same year, the company won a five-year logistics contract from the Army Corps of Engineers to work alongside GIs in places like Zaire, Haiti, Somalia, Kosovo, the Balkans, and Saudi Arabia. "'

After the 1992 election, Cheney left the Defense Department, and between 1995 and 2000 he was the chief executive officer of Halliburton. Under his leadership, Brown & Root took in $2.3 billion in government contracts, almost double the $1.2 billion it earned from the government in the five years before Cheney arrived. Halliburton rebuilt Saddam Hussein's war-damaged oil fields for some $23.8 million, even though Cheney, as secretary of defense during the first Gulf War, had been instrumental in destroying them. By 1999, Halliburton had become the biggest nonunion employer in the United States, although Wal-Mart soon replaced it. Cheney also appointed Dave Gibben, his chief of staff when he was at the Pentagon, as one of Halliburton's leading lobbyists. In 2001, Cheney returned to Washington as vice president, and Brown & Root continued to build, maintain, and protect bases from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf."

During Cheney's term as Halliburton's CEO, the company advanced from seventy-third to eighteenth on the Pentagon's list of top contractors. Its number of subsidiaries located in offshore tax havens also increased from nine to forty-four. As a result, Halliburton went from paying $302 million in company taxes in 1998 to getting an $85 million tax refund in 1999. Following the second Gulf War, while Cheney was vice president, the Army Corps of Engineers awarded the company a no-bid contract to extinguish oil well fires in Iraq. The contract was open-ended, with no time or dollar limits, and was "cost-plus' meaning that the company is guaranteed both to recover costs and then to make a profit on top of that. Such contracts are typical of Brown & Root's operating methods and are worth tens of millions of dollars." On April 4, 2003, in honor of "Big Business Day 2003' Citizen Works, a watchdog organization created by the consumer advocate Ralph Nader, gave Dick Cheney its "Daddy Warbucks" award for eminence in corporate war profiteering.

Sorrows of Empire

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