Tuesday, July 11, 2017


I realize that this blog should be wall-to-wall Trump-Russia right now, but I'm finding it hard to write anything about the subject that's more compelling than just the straight news. Meanwhile, on another subject, there's this from The New York Times:
President Trump’s advisers recruited two businessmen who profited from military contracting to devise alternatives to the Pentagon’s plan to send thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan....

Erik D. Prince, a founder of the private security firm Blackwater Worldwide, and Stephen A. Feinberg, a billionaire financier who owns the giant military contractor DynCorp International, have developed proposals to rely on contractors instead of American troops in Afghanistan at the behest of Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, and Jared Kushner, his senior adviser and son-in-law, according to people briefed on the conversations.
Hey, what could go wrong?
Soliciting the views of Mr. Prince and Mr. Feinberg certainly qualifies as out-of-the-box thinking in a process dominated by military leaders in the Pentagon and the National Security Council. But it also raises a host of ethical issues, not least that both men could profit from their recommendations.

“The conflict of interest in this is transparent,” said Sean McFate, a professor at Georgetown University who wrote a book about the growth of private armies, “The Modern Mercenary.” “Most of these contractors are not even American, so there is also a lot of moral hazard.”
Bannon tried to sell Secretary of Defense James Mattis on this approach, but Mattis rebuffed him. Still: out-of-the-box thinking! #MAGA!

Now, you may think this proposal was strictly about the grift -- but you'd be mistaken:
Despite Mr. Bannon’s apparent inability to persuade Mr. Mattis, Defense Department officials said they did not underestimate his influence as a link to, and an advocate for, Mr. Trump’s populist political base. Mr. Bannon has told colleagues that sending more troops to Afghanistan is a slippery slope to the nation building that Mr. Trump ran against during the campaign.
(Emphasis added.)

So asking heads of mercenary firms to dream up proposals that would deliver massive amounts of cash to those firms is ... what the white working class wants. It's populism. It's why candidates from the political establishment were rejected by Joe Sixpack.

Right -- got it. Glad we cleared that up.

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