Fighting Future Wars

3 minute read
A modest proposal:
Why not privatize war?


Before we get too bothered about Washington using private firms in Iraq for "security" purposes— and which are doing their job by killing people who look suspicious— let us think about what President Bush may have in mind.

Could he be thinking of privatizing war?

Think about it for a while.

We set up a company called, let's say, War Inc., and we list it on the New York Stock Exchange. It fights wars for us, and derives its income from fees paid by the White House. Or, in lieu of fees, War Inc. can simply expropriate the oil or other minerals of the countries it invades. In other words, War Inc. does what the country seems to be doing badly because our military isn’t set up to satisfy the profit motive of a good capitalistic enterprise.

Who could resist buying the shares of a company whose sole purpose is to fight wars? Like any good corporation, War Inc. would watch the costs; no more screw-drivers costing several-thousand dollars.

All our future wars will be contracted out to War Inc. The client (the White House) would specify the country to be targeted, and War Inc. would take over. No problems with a Congress with its own ideas about the rights and the wrongs of going to war, no problems with Geneva Conventions, no problems about the treatment of prisoners (none need be taken), no concerns about the Red Cross, no politicians who vote for a war and later have to explain the "why" of the vote.

Remember ‘lend-lease’?

To get War Inc. off to a good start, the White House could provide, on a "lend-lease" basis, the weaponry now owned by the Air Force, Army, Marines, and Navy. War Inc. would reimburse the White House from the profits it makes selling the oil, the diamonds, the coffee, the sugar, etc., of the country it defeats.

Once established, War Inc. would hire the military personnel it needs, pay them competitive wages and provide benefits— possibly a share of the loot that War Inc. acquires. Naturally, like any good capitalist enterprise, War Inc. would pay taxes, after reimbursing its shareholders, of course.

It’s pure Capitalism at work. Whereas, to be blunt, what we have now is Socialism, where the government runs things that really could be done better by a profit-seeking company.

A few complications

Admittedly, there may be problems if War Inc. decides to globalize its operation. Suppose the U.S. hired War Inc. to attack Iran, and Iran also hired War Inc. to defend against the same attack. But this challenge could easily be surmounted. Each country would bid for the services of War Inc., and War Inc. would accept the highest bid. Thus the war would be undertaken on behalf of the highest bidder. Better still, rival private armies would arise to compete for the business of rival countries. The free-market power of competition would keep rival armies honest and efficient, just as the constant threat of war today keeps governments from growing complacent.

The ramifications are endless. But think of the profits.

And, to think— some people believe that our president has no brains.

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