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Unseen Casualties in the War for Profit

Shortly before leaving office in 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower made a now infamous speech in which he warned of the dangers of what he termed a "military-industrial complex" or a symbiosis between those who defend our nation and those who help to supply the means for that defense. Eisenhower's warning of not letting ourselves become slaves to war for the sake of profit echoes through the ages, only to fall on the deaf ears of those ordering the execution of our current military engagements.

I was reminded of this upon reading a post by Libby tonight, who points to several articles detailing the plight of private contractors in Iraq. Just as with the deaths of US soldiers, so too are the deaths of these largely unseen forces rising as the war escalates. But while our soldiers are fighting for what they believe to be some lofty goal of a free and democratic Iraq, most of these private contractors fight for the acquisition of wealth. Profit margin matters more than progress.

Then there is the US Embassy in Baghdad which is set to rival the Vatican in scale if not necessarily in influence. Yet for all the impact that these various corporate components have on our foreign policy, hardly any oversight of them has been conducted in the nearly five years of this conflict.

Eisenhower said " In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

If only we had taken heed of this warning, we might not find ourselves now similarly misplaced.

(Filed at State of the Day)

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