"There is not one of them that does not bring and sell us weapons of war, to their detriment and our advantage."
~ Saladin — writing in the Twelfth Century of the Crusaders
One thing that really gets my goat is all these Iraqi insurgents and militia running around with AK-47 Kalashnikovs! AK-47s aren’t stamped "Made in the USA!"
As every Tom, Dick and Harry knows, AK-47s are manufactured in Russia, China and a whole host of interesting places. And, they are pieces of junk! Go ahead, drop the damn thing in the sand, kick it under your bed for a year and forget it. While it will spray out 700 rounds a minute and kill and maim a lot of people, the AK-47 is not a precision firearm.
However, due to ease of acquisition, the Kalashnikov AK-47 has been the weapon of choice of the sparring parties in Iraq. That’s not right! American patriots want our liberated and free Iraqis using American-made firearms! There’s no better way to support the troops and arm an insurgency… uh I mean arm a surge. The trick is for the US is to ensure that these weapons get to the right killers instead of to those lucky dogs who ended up with the 200,000 Kalashnikovs that got uh… lost. Dang! They were right here just a minute ago!
Fortunately we can all breathe easier, because the Kalashnikov travesty is about to end. The Iraqi puppet government of al-Maliki has come to their senses. They are in cahoots with the U.S. to buy over $1.5 billion worth, of good old US-made M-16s and M-4s! Iraqi procurement agents might even squeeze out a few helicopters and other goodies. Sweet!
It’s about time too. Let’s face it. US prestige has been tarnished. US arms sales have been falling behind. Some skillful publicity and marketing is in order. This just might be the ticket. You know, when your run-of-the-mill terrorist or insurgent is strolling through the black market weighing which gun to buy, the potential customer’s subconscious mind had better not be hissing: Kalashnikov, Kalashnikov… must have Kalashnikov. Fiddle sticks! That would be un-American.
No! We want everyone in the Middle East to have an equal opportunity to use the best weapons available. That goes for terrorists, militia, death squads, insurgents and Abdul the falafel seller too! And that means the Real Thing, American made M-16s!
I don’t know how it goes in Arabic or Farsi but we need a commercial jingle in the local lingo: I’m a lean mean fightin’ machine with my M-16!
Maybe MC Rove can come up with the appropriate rap phrase.
Anyway, American efforts to liberate Iraq have not been cheap. Control of Iraq’s oil was supposed to pay for the whole shebang. Well, dang, that promised black gold ain’t doing the trick. Oh well. Who cares? Truth be known, those oil promises were as meaningful as a Bush campaign pledge. Iraqi oil was never slated to help Iraq or fund the war.
Here’s some fun math: Take US indebtedness to those who hold U.S. debt instruments and then add in intra-governmental debt obligations and you have a debt figure of $8.7 trillion at the end of 2006.
Who cares what Noam Chomsky says about failed states! Everyone knows Mr. Chomsky is a left-wing-liberal pinko! So what if conditions that obtain in the US appear to match those of The Fund for Peace‘s "Failed States Index"?
I tell you that all is not lost. There’s a booming, if you’ll excuse the pun, market to be exploited! Maybe, the US can turn a failed cakewalk into a cash cow.
All America has to do is to continue doing what it does best: starting wars and supplying the weapons! There’s a huge market for military ordnance. It’s all the rage.
However, regarding the Iraq market there’s one teenatchee hitch. It’s the flow of money. Where is the Iraqi Puppet Government going to come up with $1.5 billion? Taxes? Silly me, of course, from taxes! Since pillaging other countries for booty requires expensive armies that need big injections of capital, governments pillage their own citizens for booty… oops… I mean taxes. But… whose taxes shall the Iraqi’s use to pay for all the shiny, new American firearms?
I could be wrong about this, but the last time I checked, Iraq was in a state of total chaos. Yeah? So what? This is nothing new. You know what I mean, car bombs going off, lots of killings, etc. Nobody is really in control of anything. Neither is any Iraqi actually making any money. The tax revenue base has eroded. Even though in 2004 the US kind of-sort-of forgave Iraqi debt "to clear the way for IMF Reforms," the Iraqis are strapped for cash. Since the "liberation," what does the average Iraqi earn per month? By American standards, it might as well be a sack of beans and a couple of fish heads. Far from being able to pay large tax bills, most Iraqis need government subsidies… like those "missing" pallets of cash or Kalashnikovs from Bosnia.
And let’s not forget the roughly two million Iraqis who have fled the country. Not gonna be able to squeeze any taxes from them!
So where is all this tax money going to come from?
Could it possibly come from you and me via one of those congressionally approved blank checks to "support the troops?"
Sure, it’s nice to know we’re doing our part to help out. But exactly how is this transaction going to work?
Congress says: "Here ya go George. Go get u2018em," and hands over a few billion. Next, the US military loads $1.5 billion in cash — Iraqi banks aren’t FDIC insured you know — onto pallets. Those pallets are transported to Iraq. Arrived in Baghdad, the money is given to some "representatives" of the Iraqi Government. Sounds foolproof so far Sarge.
Next step, al-Maliki puts in the order, as instructed from above, for his heaps of U.S.-made popguns. These get flown over and safely distributed. Each Iraqi soldier will be issued a spanking new M-16 or M-4. At the same time that soldier will have his photo taken and his biometrics, whatever they are, will be logged along with the weapon’s serial number. There, that should prevent the weapon from "accidentally" being stolen or randomly discharging into a family of Sunnis or Shi’ites. We’ve got his biometrics!
Oh, but what about the training? So, we’d better foot the bill for some Private Military Contractors to show the Iraqis how to treat their sophisticated new peacemakers. Those gadgets are not Kalashnikovs you know!
Rest assured, the US munitions manufacturers will have been paid in advance, with your tax dollars. However, the only returns the U.S. taxpayer will get are flag-draped body bags and maimed troops.
Given the fascinating ins and outs of the Pentagon’s accounting department, it’s even possible US taxpayers will be paying for these guns twice.
And, some poor schmuck in a dingy Washington DC office will have to send al-Maliki the bill.
Dear Mr. al-Maliki,
It has come to our attention that the outstanding bill of US$ 1.5 billion for delivery of "security enforcement apparatus" has yet to be paid.
Please submit payment for the afore-mentioned goods immediately.
Should payment fail to arrive within seven business days, we will be forced to refer your account to a collections agency.
Elizabeth Gyllensvard contributed to and edited this story.
Tom Chartier [send him mail] played lead guitar in legendary Los Angeles punk band The Rotters for 26 years until their final appearance in January of 2004. He has lived in Tokyo and Los Angeles. Currently he resides somewhere in the Caribbean.