Monday, February 20, 2012

Military Defense Contractors on Trial

In the film State of Play, there is a great exchange between a young congressman and an executive from Pointcorp, a military defense contractor similar to Blackwater. Since the war on terror was declared, the U.S. government has spent billions of taxpayer dollars on military defense contracts, some of whom function like mercenaries, soldiers for hire. This fictional argument gets at the heart of a very real ethical problem that America has created for itself:

Congressman: I'm talking about the numerous allegations of atrocities committed by Pointcorp and its subsidiary contractors against civilian populations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Executive: Those are unsubstantiated allegations.

Congressman: Okay. This is straightforward. Since a war on terror was declared, has your personal net worth gone up by more than 250 million dollars? Straightforward question.

Executive: I was told that personal financial data would not be addressed in open session.

Congressman: Putting war into the hands of mercenaries and those who consider it a business is a contradiction in terms. May I remind you, sir, that the wars this country fought, that defined it, were fought despite what they cost, not because of it.

Executive: I didn't come here for a lesson on morality.

Congressman: No, I expect you didn't.

Executive: The men who work for Pointcorp, the men you dishonor by calling them mercenaries, are by and large retired American military personnel.

Congressman: It's a great system, isn't it? We pay to train these men, and you get rich by killing them.

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