Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Photo of Bill Moyers Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Watch & Listen The Blog Archive Transcripts Buy DVDs

« POLL: Regarding Iraq and Afghanistan, Is Obama "Old Wine in a New Bottle?" | Main | Bill Moyers & Michael Winship: Why Have We Stopped Talking About Guns? »

Desanitizing Modern Warfare

(Photo by Robin Holland)

In this week’s JOURNAL, Bill Moyers spoke with investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill about the role played by hi-tech weaponry and private military contractors in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Scahill argued that most American citizens have become so removed from the harsh realities of war that further conflicts are becoming increasingly likely:

“I think that this is sick, where you turn war essentially into a videogame that can be waged by people half a world away... It sanitizes war. It means that we increase the number of people that don’t have to see that war is hell on the ground, and it means that wars are gonna be easier in the future because it’s not as tough of a sell... The United States has created a new system for waging war where you no longer have to rely on your own citizens to sign up for the military and say ‘I believe in this war, so I’m willing to sign up and risk my life for it.’ You turn the entire world into your recruiting ground.”

What do you think?

  • Do you agree with Scahill that private military contractors and hi-tech weaponry will make it easier for Washington to wage war in the future? Why or why not?

  • If so, how can the true human, financial, and environmental costs of war be brought home to American citizens?


  • TrackBack

    TrackBack URL for this entry:
    http://www.pbs.org/moyers/mt4/mt-tb.cgi/1820

    Comments

    ls anybody talking to OBAMA about this?.

    Thank you for including the interview with Lynn Sherr on the film about Leymah Gbowee and the Market Women of Liberia.
    It was so amazing and moving. The courage and persistenace of those women was inspiring. Thank you to all involved in the film and interview for bringing their incredible story to a wider audience.
    Sadly, as mentioned, their plight at the time was not widely reported by the international press so that they would get more support. How many other grass roots groups are also struggling to bring change in other countries of Africa that need our attention today. I was very pleased to hear L. Gbowee say that WIPNET was hoping to connect with women in Zimbabwe as they try to survive the present regime.

    If a Democratic President would have set up the illegal, IMMORAL, and down right stupid Guantanamo Bay 'jail', the whiny GOP's would certainly be investigating it. We need to charge Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld etc. for crimes against humanity. HOPEFULLY those idiots don't cause all our soldiers who listened to those lying corrupt idiots to get tried too.

    Gitmo detainees need to be sent to and kept in Dallas.

    The Cheney/Bush Administration created new generations of Terrorists with their Gitmo mess. Cheney/Bush can't just hold people indefinitely without evidence or a trial! They made up stuff as they went along because the situation they created was over their heads - they have been in over their heads for 8 years. If the detainees are terrorists, then try them and hang them! If the detainees have not given up any pertinent information thus far - they WON'T ever give up information so give them a trial already! The Cheney/Bush Administration with this corrupt illegal Guantanamo Bay camp have sentenced our own soldiers to tortuous conditions if they are ever captured.

    Bush shredded the constitution plus thumbed his nose at International Laws. He issued the declaration of war without the proper signatures needed which passed thanks to the Republican Congress. He violated Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. He supported and condoned Waterboarding even though the U.S. prosecuted these exact actions during the Vietnam War as torture. Guantanamo Bay - if that isn't the end all behind stupidity and corruption NOTHING is! A U.S. prosecutor assigned to charge a Guantanamo detainee refused to prosecute the detainee due to the obvious torture done to the detainee. The U.S. prosecutor said all evidence obtained to be used against the detainee was in-admissible due to the tortuous conditions.

    The interview with W. S. Merwin was one of the best I have seen. Bill was very honest in how much this man's petry affected him. That was an added gift along with being introduced to W. S.

    Herb Lapp

    Recent discussions on Moyer's journal about how tiny the part of the economy that has been nationalized made me think of a Sarah Palin comment that we are going toward more nationalization of things that should be kept in the private sphere. She is exactly wrong about that; there is more of a shift toward things that should be kept in the public sphere that have been moving over to the private (for profit) zone. to name a couple besides the private armies Scahill talked about, prisons, schools, highways, and hospitals (These used to be considered a public resource.) The citizens are not better served when private companies are given a profit motive to weigh decisions about things that should be the responsibility of and have accountability to the public. This is the slippery slope that is scary to me.
    Jeanne Johnsey
    Hattiesburg MS

    Bob Michaels

    If the official story of 9/11 is true, didn't the killers all die that day?

    And if it isn't, what are we doing in Afghanistan?

    Our society is designed for the government to have control over the people, rather the other way around, the way it should be.

    There was no debate about Afghanistan and Iraq. The government decided to invade. Americans were told their duty was to support the government.

    The people have no say. DC couldn't care less what the people want. They serve the banks and corporations. This is true not just with regard to wars, but to every single issue.

    I guess I think it is strange that mercenaries don't hold out for more money, ie - "...if you want us to stop creating hell on earth, we'll need 10 billion a month..."

    That's a pretty good sum of cash to ride off into the sunset and leave the world alone...

    I don't think we need to worry about mercenaries increasing health care costs. Not everything is connected to one another on some cosmic level - most things will be as if they never were...eventually.

    Trish; Anna: Hospital, Hell: They can just drop those traumatized contractors off at the Holocaust Museum for 3 days of paintball.

    Hey Anna D! I think you make a very good point. I think part of what I'm thinking about is the three day observation rule where a family member or the police can drop someone off who is acting strangely, etc. to hospital emergency room for observation and the hospital has to take them and keep them for three days. And if they are experiencing unpredictable reactions they may need a minder to watch over them, all of which uses up emergency room resources. I can't imagine Blackwater having amazing COBRA benefits either for those who may need long-term physical care or for those who may need long- or short-term psychological care. Because it seems it's not just the hidden money we're paying to Blackwater now, but all the ongoing costs of war's aftermath we will have to pay whether overtly through the VA or hidden through former mercenaries showing up uninsured and in need of help.
    --Trish Henry

    Is anyone REALLY surprised that Obama and his Hope and promised CHANGE is looking increasingly like the Cheney-Bush abomination?

    We ALL know what is going on, but one person was so eloquent in expressing the fact that
    (1) The DoD takes up more than half the pie EVERY YEAR!
    (2) The real owners of this country REALLY own it.

    See;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaS2bRGS86c
    AND
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYIC0eZYEtI

    Trish Henry - You got me thinking...can psychotics and sociopaths experience post-traumatic syndrome?

    If they can, what traumatizes them might be very different than what would traumatize you and me.

    Grady Lee - Seriously, over 10 billion a month for poppy fields? Who crunched those "profit" numbers?!

    Anna D: What's the difference between a Drug Czar and a Drug Lord? What's the difference between the Defense Department and an arms dealer? None as long as the people's will through democracy is thwarted and mocked. One begins to see the crackdown on unauthorized drug traffickers in Colombia or Afghanistan, even the anti-nuclear strategies against N. Korea and Iran as busting the competition. A "bad cop" can be worse than no cop at all.

    Thanks Bill for your report by Jeremy Scahill and your interview. It seems as though few journalists such as you and Scahill report politically incorrect observations. Too many journalists ride the popular waves of presidential honeymoons so to speak. Obama's honeymoon is over especially when we wake up to essentially the 3rd term of Cheney-Bush continuation of the wars. Right wing conservative Republicans should be smiling with billions more spent on the endless war and civilian killing drones. Conservatives are for any sacrifice that be American soldiers, American civilians, or foreign civilians that result in corporate C.E.O. profits. One of the above bloggers used the description of fascists to describe American foreign policy and ensuing domestic government. Obama is surreptitiously continuing that ideology for political success leading to a second term. As my candidate for president Ralph Nader would say, "he is subject to his corporate masters" just like Cheney-bush. What's really astounding is the absolute silence of Democratic war critics who wanted an immediate end of the wars in Iraq and Afganistan. Where are they?

    Well Bill, I have been watching you for as long as I can remember, since I was a kid during the days of McNeil and Lehrer,and Cronkite. I never got the hang of his name then, "Konkbite" was the closest I got. I'm 25 now.

    I'm told its I'll to speak for others. I feel inclined to do so since it involves me and my generation. It has been widely uttered that the Boomer generation is about to retire in astounding numbers. Jobs important and vital to the continuance of this nation of ours will become vacant.

    Where do we look for such people to take on this assumed burden, when "we", my generation are overburdened with the aspirations of those with eld and ones who come after. We are over tested and hammered to embrace a limited curricula of Reading, 'Riting, and 'Rithmatic, when we dream of the days when our parents had Literature,Language Arts, and Mathematics.

    Silently I see the truth in the eyes of my peers' alone in there struggle to find meaning in the landscape that is America, and the World, Wondering what is America, if not for the tales of heraldry and social justice that our parents speak with a sickening deadness. Then when will the fulfillment of the promises that are so abundantly held in dreams that die on a gavel, pen, and blue carpet.

    Are we a Red Giant like our sun that is having a flare up and internal combustive cycle that will work it self out to stability and move on in its stately glory.Or are we a White star who's life burns brightest in the cosmos only to burn up in ten eons after it has exhausted its fuel---to find itself with the choice to fall inward creating a hungry abyss-or to burn out into deadness.

    Bleak as this is, I find the discussion lacking on the coming pressures my generation faces and what courage we need and changes we must face to keep defending, loving and maintaining our beautiful country.

    Is there any cohesive and real discussion about the Boomers children. What the real numbers say, and what we have to do to keep our country thriving with the burden of our parents care, and the economy in uncertain waters, not to mention getting ready for our children.


    Vote democrat or republican,it doesn't make much diffence.We have the best bought government in the world.Our congressman &president seem to do the bidding of the elite What chance of does the average citizen hold.

    Thanks for having Scahill on the show, he is one of the few brightspots in American journalism today. I have a huge amount of respect for Bill Moyers, and this is off topic, but when he said,

    "Walter Pincus is an old friend of mine, an investigative reporter at "The Washington Post" for, you know, 30 or more years now. A very respected man."

    I was disappointed. From the little I know of Walter Pincus, his most notorious efforts were his articles that were in effect a hatchet job against Gary Webb's Dark Alliance piece and Webb's clear evidence of the CIA allowing/supporting drug imports and dealing in the US in order to fund their Contra war in Nicaragua in the 1980's. There was another story by Roger Morris and Sally Denton about CIA drug trafficking through Mena, AK, that was about to go to press in the Washington Post, but allegedly Pincus called the piece "garbage" and the story was never given mainstream attention. It seems very likely to me that Pincus either loves the CIA and protects them at all costs, or is literally one of their apprentices.

    I have the utmost respect for you, Bill Moyers, and thats why I bring this to your attention. Otherwise, keep up the good work!

    I had never before made the disturbing connection between “armed military contractors” and the term mercenaries. Thanks for throwing light on this important distinction. What I want to know is what happens when these mercenaries come home and they don’t even have the VA to fall back on as a support structure for PTSD trauma and other physical disabilities? Who is going to take care of them? I can recall the after-effects as a child in the 1970’s of state mental-health facility closures in California in the 1960’s. It got to the point where our family could not safely go camping because so many troubled people had drifted to living in the wild. In today’s environment, there are also new devastating self-medicating drugs to add into the mix (i.e. crack, meth, etc.) --Trish Henry, Oakland, CA

    What's the difference between the private army of the drug/slave lords with their high tech submarines and planes, etc. and Xe?

    None as far as I can see.

    Jeremy Scahill is spot on as usual. It IS time to take off the Obama T-Shirts. Obama is doing the same things Bush did.
    Thanks Mr. Moyers for having this brilliant and brave journalist on your program. Blackwater by any other name is still a big problem. The fact that Obama has hired so many mercenaries is an even bigger problem.

    Yes. I agree that our private military contractors and hi-tech weaponry will assure more wars on the part of the USA. After all, the USA is the world's greatest bully. War is the result of the void of justice. Not only do we promote injustice abroad but we promote injustice right here at home, within the USA, too. We are largly, corrupt. No peace will exist absent justice for all.
    The truth of war will by necessity only be brought home to the USA when we are invaded by a people (nation) who has the same capacity for military contractors and hi-tech weaponry. It will happen, and perhaps, the sooner the better. And while this is not what I would wish for us, it is what I believe must happen for the USA to "Do unto others as we would have others do unto us." We must stop our war mongering in this world we share with others and seek justice for all: Like beginning with food, housing and healthcare for every person on earth.

    "A people living under the perpetual menace of war and invasion is very easy to govern. It demands no social reforms. It does not haggle over expenditures for armaments and military equipment. It pays without discussion, it ruins itself, and that is an excellent thing for the syndicates of financiers and manufacturers for whom patriotic terrors are an abundant source of gain" - Anatole France

    BLACKWATER : THE CRUSADE
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DpRz4CvMqo&feature=channel_page

    BLACKWATER : GLOBAL THREAT
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PTO4BmG4zA&feature=channel

    BLACKWATER : THE SHADOW WAR
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yfu44knmLOE&feature=channel

    “It’s here that the American dream decided it liked the taste of the vomit it was chocking on. Just rolled over on its back and screamed for more drugs. it didn't die.“ - Warren Ellis

    Here's some more food for thought:

    What A Shocker: Report Says Wartime Contracts Are Wasteful http://progressnotcongress.org/blog/?p=1640

    Global weapons spending hits record levels http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/08/record-world-weapons-spending

    Stop the War Supplemental http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/43292

    Mr. Scahill says,
    "Right now there are 250 thousand contractors fighting the wars in Iraq
    and Afghanistan. That's about 50 percent of the total US fighting force.
    Which is very similar to what it was under Bush. In Iraq, President Obama
    has 130 thousand contractors. And we just saw a 23 percent increase in the
    number of armed contractors in Iraq. In Afghanistan there's been a 29
    percent increase in armed contractors. So the radical privatization of war
    continues unabated under Barack Obama."

    Misleading, I would say. Whether intentionally or not, Mr. Scahill makes it
    seem, no?, as if all 250 thousand are "fighting the wars". But that's not
    true. It is true, there are 242,657 "DoD Contractor Personnel" in Iraq,
    Afghanistan, and elsewhere. But most of these are unarmed (hence, not
    fighting the wars in a natural sense of that phrase). They include
    construction workers, translators, communication support personnel, etc.
    Of the 242,657, there are 10,743 armed contractor personnel in Iraq, and
    4,111 in Afghanistan. According to the report* (see below),

    · There was a 23% increase (from 8,701 to 10,743) of armed DoD PSCs in
    Iraq compared to the 1st quarter FY 2009 census. This increase can be
    attributed to our improved ability to account for subcontractors who are
    providing security services. · There was a 29% increase (from 3,184 to
    4,111) of armed DoD PSCs in Afghanistan compared to the 1st quarter FY
    2009 census. The increase correlates to the build up of forces in that
    AOR.

    Bad, maybe, but not as bad as first impressions, upon hearing Scahill,
    would suggest.

    The report* (from May, 2009, referenced both by Scahill, and by me just
    above), called "Contractor support of U.S. Operations in USCENTCOM AOR,
    IRAQ, and Afghanistan — May 2009" can be accessed at
    http://www.acq.osd.mil/log/PS/hot_topics.html

    One of the things one learns on reading this is that of the 4,111 armed
    contractors in Afghanistan, 4,070 of them are Afghanis (local guns for
    hire).

    The problem with financing Xe (pronounced Zi) Mercenary, Inc. is that you don’t own them. Here we are spending billions of dollars on equipping and training a fighting force, but when the contract is over, what does the U.S. end up with? Nothing, absolutely nothing. While Xe Mercenary, Inc. walks away with all this fighting equipment and experienced soldiers, the U.S. is only left with our ferocious politicians (yeah, you know, the folks who create laws in which to hide behind).

    Can the U.S. be out bid for the services of Xe Mercenary, Inc.? What if the U.S. couldn’t afford Xe Mercenary, Inc. anymore and now one of Saudi Arabia’s buffer countries (Bahrain, U.A.E, Kuwait...) (sort of like a white-collar Eastern Bloc) or one of their satellite countries (Switzerland, Russia…) (puppet governments) wants to start a war with someone? Could Xe Mercenary, Inc. desert the U.S. to become a worldwide corporation?

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if the U.S. spent all its money building up Xe Mercenary, Inc., and then the Saudis use this worldwide corporation to destroy the U.S.?

    Another thought, if the U.S. has the greatest military in the world, why do we need mercenaries? Neocons, talk amongst yourselves (no pushing).

    I agree completely with Jeremy Scahill's comments on the use of contractors and predator drones to make the reality and the consequences of war yet more remote to both the military and the people in whose name these wars are fought. Thank you for providing a forum for the only person, among all the commentators I hear, to have spoken out forcefully on the costs of these cowardly tactics.

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this show. Mr. Cahill is eloquent, while remaining direct in the discussions. And so to my comments...

    That "war is hell" stopped being represented appropriately in the news media after the involvement of the USA in the Vietnam War. The press coverage of that war soured the people of the USA to war. Not only did their children and friends return from the war maimed or dead or not at all, but the press coverage allowed those who did not have children or friends that were directly effected by the nastiness to understand that war is a very dirty business.

    After this time little or no graphic coverage of war occurred and people lost the idea of hell that they had learned about. Then, there was a need to justify war (IRAQ 1). A great military idea was born; imbedded reporting. With imbedded reporting, the military could control the view of hell while bringing exciting victory to the "war starved" Public. No need to bring them gore other than through imagination... and the opportunity to carry out extensive media control while protecting the "so vulnerable" reporter took hold.

    This transition occurred in an interesting time in the history of "mainstream media" ownership, as well. The likes of GE, Microsoft and others purchased major news networks. The related business interests may or may not have been the basis for such purchases, but clearly one can find that these related opportunities are not without business merit today.

    So as Mr. Scahill has pointed out in this piece that Mr. Moyers has been so kind to provide us with through PBS: War really is Hell!!

    Even though you may not know someone who has died or is living a difficult life because of their war injuries, eventually you will, even though they may not be from the USA.

    I wish they would talk about Dan Rather's lawsuit.

    If rich and powerfull people's kids were being killed in wars you would be amazed at how fast these wars would come to an end.

    “…Ricochet Impact. The relatives of those people are going to say maybe they did trust the United States. Maybe they viewed the United States as a beacon of freedom in the world. But you just took you just took that guy's daughter. You just killed that guy's wife. That's one more person that's going to line up and say, ‘We're going to fight the United States.’ We are indiscriminately killing civilians…” ~ Jeremy Scahill, Investigative Journalist

    Spread the word (or in this case, the phrase): Ricochet Impact

    Thank you again Mr. Scahill for having thee you know what (gonads) back in a time when Democrats in congress and senate where merely high talkers standing around with their hands in their pockets.

    Thank you again Mr. Scahill for taking on Blackwater back in a time when you could have been considered an enemy combatant for dissent.

    Thank you,

    Thank you,

    Thank you,

    Excellent interview. One way to "bring it home" &
    "support our troops" is legislation demanding we pay our military, at whatever rank they may hold, in exact proportion to what we are paying these private companies and, they, in turn, are paying their people, sort of like civil service pay scale rankings. Conversely, we will only pay these companies what we would be paying those of us who sign-up for military duty as we know it. Does anyone know what a mercenary, and any private company's people are all mercenaries by definition, is being paid for a similar position in our armed forces?
    It is my feeling that when we remove a moral imperative, and I wonder just how moral any conflict or war we, the United States,has talked/pushed/sugar-coated our way into in recent times is or has been moral, we have really lost all sense of values and it is simply a case of who will make money. Privatization of soldiers is wrong, for moral, ethical, and plain common sense reasons. It only leads to the perpetuation of conflicts and war while giving billions of dollars to these corporations. Remeber the old bumper sticker, "what if they
    started a war and nobody came"? This is one step further--"yes, they started a war and only the companies and people who get paid top-dollar came". But wait, competition between these blood-suckers will bring the prices down and war will become more economical down the road, therefore, we can create/contribute to even more turmoil -- capitalism at its' best.

    Using military contractors and high tech weaponry do not just make it easier to wage war. Large companies with a huge financial interest in weapons and warfare do exactly what any large company does to further its interests: lobby, make campaign contributions and flood the public with propaganda. Weapons sold by USA companies enable violence all over the world.

    If the kind of large-scale protest that ended the Vietnam War develops here we'll probably have Blackwater supplementing the riot police. I hope that is a bad joke.

    Hi, I've read Mr. Scahill's "Blackwater" and I disagree with the allegation that he bears malice towards those fighting in wars, be they soldiers of a nation state or mercenaries. In fact, his book empathises with mercenaries and reveals how even they are exploited for profit. With regards to the horrors of war, he is perfectly within his right to point out how war by proxy is more palatable. And, he reminds Americans that whereas they see the remote controlled drone, Al Jazeera broadcasts images of decapitated children. He is certainly not a supporter of the Taliban or even Al Quada. This insinuation makes the racist claim that all Arabs are terrorists based on the syllogism that expressing sympathy for innocent casualties is akin to expressing support for the brutal thugs who use religion to justify their wars of aggression. Mr. Moyers please continue with your work of forcing people to think. The average American has strayed far, far from the altar of reason, but do not give up on him or her.

    I have been listening to Scahill for a couple of years now. The holes in Iraq and Afhganistan, and perhaps Pakistan, are getting deeper and wider. I am starting to feel very sorry for the civilians because they are caught in the middles of ideology. And, they only want to live their lives.

    Machiavelli points towards the issue of privatizing armies. They go for the highest bidder and offer loyalty based on that condition: the highest bidder. So I ask, how do we develop 'honor lovers' (Plato's Republic)? Who will do the bidding of our society?

    Bill,
    Once again, thank you for your program. Your guests were insightful and provided new information I was unaware of. If it weren't for your guests, such as Jeremy Scahill, all of us would be hearing either nothing or misrepresentations of the truth from the corporate media.

    As the voters and corporate news media continue to sleep, I recognize that we have lost the freedom of the press and our democracy and that we are living in a corporate fascist country.

    Change? Perhaps a small amount. However, the longer Obama moves further away from his campaign promises the further he will disappoint all who voted for him. If Obama doesn't keep his campaign promises he will be just another politician who is intellectually disingenuous to all of those who voted for him.


    All of the wars since WWII, and a few before that, have been about one of two issues: either a) control of resources in a foreign contry, or b) the profit of the military contractors. Read "War is a Racket" if you have any doubts. The privatization of the soldiers is just another incremental step in increasing the profits of the military contractors, who already make billions from wars that ensure access to markets abroad at low cost, this benefiting other corporations.

    The challenge is moral and it is real. Should America be waging resource wars for the benefit of private corporations, including those who supply combat labor? Should any company be allowed to profit from war to any degree? Is it the right thing to to to wage a war on another country to secure access to their natural resources?

    Unfortunately, the answer to these questions for the past several hundred years has been yes. The propaganda from the Pentagon attempts to frame current wars in moral terms but their arguments are thin and do not stand up to reason. Privatized wars make it easier to create institutionalized violence, but they beg the question: should only citizens be allowed to enter into violent relationships with people from other countries?

    War as an institution is useful to the ruling oligarchy for several reasons: social control, profits here and abroad, strategic advantage over other countries, and as a way to conceal the true power relationships in our society. We as Americans have failed to address the fundamental moral issues associated with institutionalized violence, and until we do there will be more privatization and needless suffering in the world. The war machine will continue to evolve.

    The words of Martin Luther King still ring true today:

    "Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."

    Scahill has his own agenda and is also a sort of conspiracy theorist. I like reporters that ask the question but he quotes from reports and statements that support and has no comment on reports that contradict him. Who investigates the investigators that has become my problem with media and reporters today. An ideologue is just a dangerous when he reports as when he leads. Sad fact of War there is always innocent casualties. When you blame on side for taking innocent life what happens to the responsibility of the other side. IS not the Taliban responsible for putting the innocents in harms way. In these new wars we fight the casualties will increase due to the enemy having no country of its own and feeding off the population that hides it.

    Thank you for presenting Jeremy Scahill.
    I think the main problem in the United States of America today is that the vast majority of people can't or will not see there are huge differences, possibly polar in nature, between democracy and capitalism. We have been LED to believe that capitalism is the manifestation of democratic ideals, when, in fact, capitalism inherently depends upon uneven distribution of wealth and power. Slavery is one of capitalism's flowers.
    Watch the Stock Market soar as corporations announce that they are putting thousands out of work.
    Another very disturbing aspect of this corruption is how so many churches in this country connect monetary wealth to Divine Grace (POWER) as if validity is based upon a bank balance. This sort of "thinking" is then used to de-humanize people from other cultures whose lives can then be "spent" in order to maintain our self-centered level of comfortableness and pride.
    This sadomasochistic addiction is always the source of horrors which must be challenged and stopped.
    Both prophets and profits are suspect.
    Sincerely and without bitterness.

    Lucille: Barack is not in the kitchen with Dinah cooking up shortening bread. Don't confuse the Presidency with your domestic multitasking. Thanks to previous administrations his is an office of immense authority and sweeping power. He has not taken more than half the steps he could have to end or convert the adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan-Pakistan Territories. By convert I mean aid missions and assistance according to the self-perceived needs of these populations. Instead we have imposed puppet governments, merged military activities with our counterproductive war on drugs and built up our anti-terrorist industrial complex until every congressional district is dependent. As bad as our society sucks how can you expect us to engineer others? MacDonalds and Coke in every village is cruelty not success. If anything Obama is "too sold" on American exceptionality and is in denial about our economic and environmental peril. It is like we're losing the life game 10 to nothing in the ninth inning and coach has put in the benchwarmers because their parents are prominent in the community. Every American town is governed by an oligarchy based upon real estate speculation (few exceptions) and budgetary favoritism. Is it any surprise our national governance is the same. We need to get away from "business as usual" and try some new techniques. Obama then,is ultra-conservative in clinging to a mythical capitalism in the midst of a fascist cabal. He dispenses poison medicine. (as evidenced by wishy-washy health care reform)

    There was so much to do when President Obama took office. He is working hard and keeping in touch with the people. We all have different agendas and I really believe that, in spite of many desenters and their theories, a better overall relationship with the world will result.

    Scahill said:

    …The relatives of those people are going to say maybe they did trust the United States. Maybe they viewed the United States as a beacon of freedom in the world. But you just took you just took that guy's daughter. You just killed that guy's wife. That's one more person that's going to line up and say, "We're going to fight the United States." We are indiscriminately killing civilians…

    I've been trying to tell neocons this for over 5 or 6 years, and now Scahill has made it easier for me to get my point across. He’s brilliantly labeled this effect:

    ”ricochet impact”

    I agree strongly with Jeremy Scahill. I wish he'd been on for the whole hour. I wish you'd had him on fro TWO hours. His work is outstanding, and his grasp of the implications of the facts he finds is completely lucid.

    Indeed, we should take off the t-shirts, and stop nattering about what Obama only says while his actions are almost unerringly at variance with his words.

    We need more Jeremy Scahills, or at least to hear more from him.

    Jeremy Scahill calls mercantilist-fascism "Privatization"?

    "We live amidst the most radical privatization agenda in the history of our country and it cuts across every aspect of our society" - Jeremy Scahill 09:41 Bill Moyers interview.

    Please let me correct that sentence for you, ""We live amidst the most radical mercantilist-fascist agenda in the history of our country and it cuts across every aspect of our Free Enterprise society"

    Nationalization and mercantilist-fascism is constantly called "privatization" by those on the Left. It screamed by Ms. Klein's "Shock Doctrine" book and echoed in a thousand places. But is what is going on in Amerika today "privatization"? No. What is getting truly privatized? I don't see the Federal post office being privatized so anyone can start a business and deliver 1st class mail. I don't see medicare and medicaid being privatized, etc. I don't see government owned airports being sold and run privately. I do not see Social Security getting privatized and I don't see local government public schools dissolving & getting privatized into a truly free market education based school system. I do not see the government getting smaller, that is shrinking do to all this "privatization", which is what you would see if indeed we "were in the mist of the most radical privatization in our history". What I do see is the King Washington granting a monopoly grant to the East India Tea Company and what we call that is called is Mercantilist-Fascism. No bid contracts, lone companies married to government for its life blood is not a "Free Enterprise Company born of the Free Market." It government monopoly grant, a 'no bid contract" a bastard company born & maintained by Big Government alone. It is a corporation, to be sure, but its not Microsoft or McDonald's where upon it must satisfy billions of individual customers at every minute of the day, no, it is "One Customer Company", and that customer is Big Government.

    Nothing at all is getting privatized.

    If anything, Big Government as found a means to continue doing what it wants without being publicly scrutinized. There is your story.

    Its a pity Jeremy and Ms. Klein and others cannot be intellectually precise & exact on this. The misuse of concepts leads to the public making bad policy choices. In the name of being precise and exact, what we do see happening today is private industries becoming NATIONALIZED by big government more and more, such as GM and AIG. Jeremy, its flat out Orwellian to call nationalization & mercantilism as somehow being "privatization of our military", no it is not. How is it privatization when Halliburton gets its contracts from the government? How is it privatization even if Big Government had ten companies bid on a contract? Its still a business model solely dependent upon one customer, Big Government, our tax dollars and Big government's ability to print and borrow that keeps those companies' alive. This is not privatization, its mercantilist-fascism all rolled into one horrible beast. Hitler had such 'companies' supplying his war machine, look it up. Now Amerika has them. What is next thing our king Obama will do, declare Martial Law?

    The R3volution continues, long live Ron Paul,
    Treg

    Bill,

    Is this guy kidding?

    Washington i.e. the Congress doesn’t need a reason or excuse to make war, haven’t you heard, it is a new day.

    Presidents have daughters and Congress refuses to activate the draft therefore protecting their sons for the ones not lucky enough to have daughters.

    That leaves the cannon fodder called the poor to fight the battle of the rich and powerful, nothing new about that.

    I say the son of a bitch that said war is like a video game probably never served a day in his life for this country or for any bona fide charity. I say he is coward who sets in the safety of his office or behind the lines protected by the real warriors judging the actions of others he knows nothing about.

    Any man or woman who has gone to war, any war, won or lost, gave something of themselves the draft dodging cowards and the ones who sit at home and consume will never understand. And these people are not worthy to have it explained to them.

    The vast majority of American doesn’t give a damn about the warrior they send into the horror of war and death. They hate the Veteran more for costing them the money paid for wounds. And they have no respect for the dead soldier, sailor, airman, or marine who gave the ultimate gift of their lives so they, the draft dodging cowards and the ones who sit at home and consume can eat hot dogs and ham burgers and be paid to be off and party, play their video games, and spend like there is no tomorrow on material goods having no meaning at all but wanting more and more to fill the emptiness of their lives as they try to medicate their minds with TV, movies, drugs, alcohol, and sex.

    So, it is easy for the President and Congress to make war as it is after all profitable to the Military industrial complex and therefore fills the coffers of the rich and didn’t you know that at the end of the day, people love violence as long as it is not put upon them and they love war as long as the other man and woman goes in their place to do the fighting.

    How many, the 1st and 2nd world wars, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and who is next, all in one life time. Did I miss any? And it won’t end before it gets a lot worse.

    I wish when you seek the truth about war, any kind of war, you would ask those who stepped into harms way and wore the uniform and actually know about war. Is your guest so simple minded as to think those who fly drones or fired the 16” guns on battleships or haul the supplies to the front are not affected by the deaths of the enemy and of their own friends? Is he stupid or just an asshole who cares not for the people who serve or their families sacrifice?

    God how I hate the people who judge without having walked into hell and came back missing that which they can not find the words to describe.

    Give the award winning investigative reporter Mr. Sachill another award, and another the next day. Then give him AIG's bonuses. Thank you sir for your common sense, and what must seem at times to be an under appreciated job.

    I saw the 60 Minutes Scahill referenced and was likewise repulsed to see the excitement with which the military commander relished his new weaponry.
    War itself is profoundly immoral and distancing ourselves from the torture we inflict on others is surely breeding ground for an endless supply of new terrorists. The drones/terrorists are another version of the nuclear arms race.

    Rahm Emanuel made what I think is a telling comment; “The only nonnegotiable principle here is success. Everything else is negotiable.”

    This came from a NYTimes article Taking The Hill addressing healthcare reform. What it suggests is that Obama will not challenge congress very much and end up going with the flow.

    Here's my thought. What if Hillary is right when she said Obama gives great speeches. You've reporting on how Afghanistan and Pakistan are becoming wars of occupation, we're increasingly privatizing our military, etc. What if 3 years from now we still have all of our problems and no fixes? If this should happen what will become of the optimism of our youth?

    I am very moved by Obama and I've never heard of another president like him and I wish him all success possible. But he's put himself on the block as solving issues like Wall St corruption, high cost of healthcare, stopping torture, etc. If he doesn't deliver I'm afraid that he will generate a generation of cynics and politically disengaged youth and I think that will be very dangerous for our nation.

    Question; what would be worse for a nation - to have a phony savior or a declared Cheney type?

    Obama or Bush, flip a coin. They're the same. Don't people know .... it's the Federal Reserve Bank that call ALL the shots. Vietnam was never meant to be won either. Look around, look at what's going on in our country ..... connect the dots.
    The economy has bottom out! With 11 GM plants to close with 3 more in 6 months, along with 1,100 GM dealerships, and 800 Chrysler dealerships. And where will they build the new car plants...... CHINA.

    Jeremy Sachill's reporting about wars becoming for-profit corporation based, with no say or participation of nations or citizens wherever based, is horrifying. And it appears to be an increasing fact, as with Iraq and Afghanistan.

    A politically advantaged private company was offered contracts to do what the military used to do? Apparently it was financially based? The military was offered better consistent service, at less cost than it was able to provide by citizen controlled armed services? The volunter services recruting was down? The recruiting standards were lowered to increase the citizen ranks? Immigrants were recruited with offers of a potential citizenship. The poor and young were offered a steady wage and career? Redeployments were rampant?

    A citizen based nationally controlled armed services is important? If so, how is it that our government doesn't use a private-practice solution to obtaining needed recruits? Namely, pay every recruit one-half to two-thirds the salaries that corporations pay their mercernaries to do what our armed services do? Then we can cut the "costs" of wars for which we pay and save the profiteering costs paid to corporations at the expense of our citizen, nationally controlled services. It may be that we can increase the standards of recruits and provide them with all the benefits the corporations provide. And, further, we may reinstitute some system of accountability for what is done in our name.


    First, I must preface my comments with the statement that I am NOT anti-American, yet, a measure of reality must begin to dawn on the American consciusness.

    The USA declares itself to be a peace, loving nation with the greatest desire to pread 'democracy' and 'liberty'.

    Yet, let us look at how America has acted in the world, and even at home.

    The USA spends more money on the preparation for war and on war than all other countries conbined, including China, Russia and Iran. And the truth is, the USA has killed, through direct military action, more civilians, since world war II than all of so-call, terrorist groups combined.

    Would it not be interesting to compare the deaths caused by terrorists, around the world, and those caused by the USA military!

    Nearly, three thousand people were killed in the attacks on September 11, 2001. And in response, the USA has caused the deaths of more than a million and wound and displaced millions more. Put it the situation in another way, the number people killed and displaced in Darfur are less than those killed and displaced in Iraq. And comes with the understanding that those numbers do not include the details from Afghanistan.

    Now, if I am a rational being, whom should I believe pose the greater threat to the stability of the world, the designated terrorists or the beacon of liberty?

    If the USA and its people were do 10% of what they claim to believe and wish for, the world as we know it tiday would look much better.

    Jeremy is 100% right. Unfortunately the majority of the American people do not care how many civilians die because Iraqis and others are sub humans that do not matter much. In addition to the fact that our government continues to scare the heck out of us using terrorists, so pretty much we surrender to their war mongering

    I agree with most of what Jeremy Scahill said about the privatization and sanitization of war. I also agree that killing innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan is immoral, not to mention counter-productive.

    So then what do we do? Do we just admit that we are unable (or unwilling) to bring to justice the killers of 9/11, and leave Afghanistan?

    If Scahill is going to criticize the current strategy, he also needs to present a pragmatic alternative.

    How gratifying to hear a journalist speaking his mind. I'm in shock! Thank you Jeremy for your exposure of war at the hands of America, as unpopular and as disturbing as it may be.

    Debbie Martin

    Thank you for having Jeremy Scahill on your show. Mr. Scahill is an excellent journalist and a breath of fresh air compared to the typical "talking heads" in the Kabuki theater otherwise known as corporate media. My question is why doesn't mainstream media expose the obscene profiteering enjoyed by Haliburton and others? It was my understanding that profiteering in times of war is an act of treason. The principals involved should be prosecuted. At the very least the American taxpayer should be informed of these shameful arrangements.

    To me, Scahill's most salient comments are that the corporate powers are privatizing armies, and that is a direct threat to a democratic society of and by The People. I also agree strongly with Scahill that by using drones and robots, war becomes more politically possible because we don't have to sacrifice our own lives. Furthermore, I agree that US citizens are kept in the dark about the realities of war and if they did see the carnage on the nightly news everyday, they'd put an end to it like was done in Vietnam.

    Scahill was also brilliant in explaining why a private mercenary army is dangerous for a democratic institution because it can support unjust wars. By having a draft where everyone serves equally, it's much less likely to get the nation involved in an unjust war because of the rebellion it would induce. Bring back The Draft!

    From Scahill's comments, I observed that he is wanting to reduce terrorism and notices that killing innocent civilians generates more terrorists - this is TRUE. He emphasizes the law enforcement aspect of fighting terrorism, which I think is wise, and the dangers of attempting to solve the problem with violence.

    Many of the so-called "terrorists" are those who want simply to end US policies aimed at destabilizing and terrorizing their democratic government in their own nations. The US CIA overthrow of Mossedegh in Iran, being just one example Obama mentioned in his recent Mid-East speech. The list is long, but we could just casually mention Allende in Chile, Torrijos in Panama, Arbenz in Guatemala.

    He cofirms Moyers repeated observations that instead of Republicans and Democrats we have the Republicrats, or The Corporate Party. This is not what I want as a nation. I want REAL democracy, NOT what Chomsky calls the US - a "false" democracy. Please give me elections which are not stage-managed by PR firms that do advertisement, or "brand-Obama" and elections in which you have to raise a billion dollars + to win. Or elections in which the votes are stolen electronically, machines not available in your district, or not enough paper ballots to go around. Oops, we even lost your provisional ballot. And then when you actually elect the candidate you wanted, turns out he's been bought out by Wall Street!

    Thank you Scahill for trying your darndest to wake Unitedstatesan up!

    Josh Pugh wrote: "I strongly disagree with Scahill, he is representing the issue in a manner as though it was totally black and white. Yes, innocents civilians die, civilians always die, its part of war, However, if you look at the civilian casualty rates between the current war on terror and say, WWII, the numbers have drastically decreased. Scahill Almost makes the claim that killing the innocent is the goal of the American soldiers, while that is directly the opposite. No longer is carpet bombing of cities an acceptable method. No longer are tens of thousands killed by bombing raids such as the raid on Dresden which killed 135,000. The US military is not trying to kill the innocent and is working to achieve war in which civilian casualties are eliminated. Scahill fails to see that war is not as simple as he is making it."

    As Scahill implied, how we view these things depends upon which side of the gun you are on. Doubtlessly, the civilians we kill would deeply appreciate your argument, and surely their surviving friends and family do too.

    In a bigger picture, your point is a bit correct, that war is not so simple. For example, we get all tangled up talking about whether or not civilians like dying, but we never consider that we invaded Iraq in violation of international law, a crime for which we hanged Nazis. I suppose that's too complicated also.

    I strongly disagree with Scahill, he is representing the issue in a manner as though it was totally black and white. Yes, innocents civilians die, civilians always die, its part of war, However, if you look at the civilian casualty rates between the current war on terror and say, WWII, the numbers have drastically decreased. Scahill Almost makes the claim that killing the innocent is the goal of the American soldiers, while that is directly the opposite. No longer is carpet bombing of cities an acceptable method. No longer are tens of thousands killed by bombing raids such as the raid on Dresden which killed 135,000. The US military is not trying to kill the innocent and is working to achieve war in which civilian casualties are eliminated. Scahill fails to see that war is not as simple as he is making it.

    Richard states "We've have never seen real war on the continent & most people don't know about war..WOW.how about the revolutionary war, War of 1812; Civil war (which my Grandfather fought in & he brother killed) the Spanish Armerican War.. WWI in the Alleution Isles.. Many veterans including me & 4 brothers served so he could post his freedom of speech no matter who naive it maybe be. He's fortunate to have been born in a country where the military has fought in other lands to keep him safe & speaking English

    Jeremy Scahill is a rivetingly excellent guest whose comments could not be more timely (though we are sad about the necesasarily harsh light he shines on Obama).

    Thanks for having him!

    Erin and Kevin Knox

    Richard states "We've have never seen real war on the continent & most people don't know about war..WOW.how about the revolutionary war, War of 1812; Civil war (which my Grandfather fought in & he brother killed) the Spanish Armerican War.. WWI in the Alleution Isles.. Many veterans including me & 4 brothers served so he could post his freedom of speech no matter who naive it maybe be. He's fortunate to have been born in a country where the military has fought in other lands to keep him safe & speaking English

    As far as I can tell, "people" and machines don't start and make war, MEN make war. Women don't.
    That's the subject I'd like to see addressed.

    Your guest is so far to the left, he must be on the taliban's payroll

    The question posed is this:

    "Do you agree with Scahill that private military contractors and hi-tech weaponry will make it easier for Washington to wage war in the future?"

    I do think that private contractors and high-tech military armaments make waging war easier both politically and economically, but I think that technology is at very best a factor of secondary importance when it comes waging war. The primary catalysts for war are ideas. People are motivated by desires and ideas and its the content of those desires and ideas that determine whether a nation will go to war or not. The secondary status of technology regarding the initiation of conflict becomes apparent when one asks the question: Would humans abandon conflict if high-tech equipment were abolished or non-existent? Hardly. People will engage in war regardless if their tools consist of precision guided munitions and electronic instruments or hand-made clubs and other blunt objects. The old truism that "guns don't kill people, people kill people" is appropriate in this discussion.

    Ultimately, as Ayn Rand wrote, war is essentially the result of the mass acceptance of the idea the some have the right to initiate the use of physical force against others, that the initiation of physical force is an appropriate means of social interaction. We should not be placing any sort of blame on inanimate military accessories. Its those who choose to employ those accessories who should be scrutinized. The technology which was the object of the discussion between Moyers and Scahill actually serves a legitimate military purpose. Its for what purpose that those tools are used which should be the object of our attention.

    I once read that socrates said, ask the fallen soldier on the battelfield what war is.The answer is right there on the person face.Many talk of this horror like it's a noble act among people when they disagree ect...

    This process began a long time ago when the pressure to reduce the military establishment gave rise to double-dipping independent DoD contracting. Since then a lot of it has been further disguised by moving it off-budget. In addition the Congress has dodged its Constitutional war-making as much as its budget-making responsibility, because fundamentally it is more lucrative to go along than to stand up to anything. This is made even easier by having alienated its responsibility to ensure a sound currency. Re the war, I think the counterinsurgency approach is wrong for the Afghan situation and that its failure in Vietnam should be held up as an example. We were lucky in Iraq, but it was not actually much of a war. This one looks to be much more difficult, and I see no real reason to be fighting it, esp where there seem to be no clear objective.

    I was a child during the Vietnam war. I remember seeing warfare on the evening news constantly. It really brought the strife of the situation home...literally. Maybe if we are shown the realities and ravages of war, we might learn from its viewing. Too bad that's only wishful thinking.

    The M-I oligarchy are the true autocrats. Obama is merely a figurehead (as were Bush et al). We're a CS nation with our arrogant airpower and drones and total disregard for life - of others of course - and our own brutalized youth (as profit dictates).

    Posted by: Eric Howe

    Excellent Eric, we've never seen real war on this continent. The closest that most Americans have been to war was a Hollywood Patriotic piece financed and supported by the Pentagon. We will continue to support war as long as the media continues to show us sanitized images of man's darkest venture !

    I don't think you can blame it all on mercenaries and automation.

    Most of North America and Europe hasn't been involved in a "war of total commitment" since WWII. WWII put the reality of war right in everyone's face: rationing, propaganda, massive economic and social disruption, loss of life or limb (your own, your child's, your mate's, your friend's, ...), etc.

    We don't have the critical mass of people around that have seen war first hand, they're all either dead or retired to obscurity. So, we stumble blindly into conflicts because we don't really know what conflict or war means.

    Humans only seem to learn the big lessons by direct experience. History and tales from old men are just stories; the brutal horror of war doesn't really sink in until you're knee deep in bloody mud, screaming because your legs are now bloody stumps, and wondering why you're surrounded by bits and pieces of meat that look they used to be parts of your friends.

    Post a comment

    THE MOYERS BLOG is our forum for viewers' comments intended for discussing and debating ideas and issues raised on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL. THE MOYERS BLOG invites you to share your thoughts. We are committed to keeping an open discussion; in order to preserve a civil, respectful dialogue, our editors reserve the right to remove or alter any comments that we find unacceptable, for any reason. For more information, please click here.

    THE MOYERS BLOG
    A Companion Blog to Bill Moyers Journal

    Your Comments

    Podcasts

    THE JOURNAL offers a free podcast and vodcast of all weekly episodes. (help)

    Click to subscribe in iTunes

    Subscribe with another reader

    Get the vodcast (help)

    For Educators    About the Series    Bill Moyers on PBS   

    © Public Affairs Television 2008    Privacy Policy    DVD/VHS    Terms of Use    FAQ