Wehle decries proposal to hire mercenaries in Afghanistan

Professor Kimberly Wehle published her second op-ed in a week about the potential dangers of outsourcing government functions to for-profit contractors.

In “Letting mercenaries fight our wars undercuts the Constitution” (The Hill, Sept. 2, 2017), Wehle discusses a proposal by Erik Prince, the founder of the notorious Blackwater security contracting firm, to fight the war in Afghanistan using mercenaries – possibly under Prince’s command.

Prince finds the word “mercenary” pejorative, according to an op-ed he contributed this week to The New York Times.

But, Wehle pointed out, Prince’s company (renamed several times after “Blackwater” became associated with lethal mayhem in Iraq) exists to make a profit – for Prince.

“Prince has euphemistically argued that a ‘restructuring’ of the war – using private contractors (many of them presumably from foreign countries) as a ‘presidential envoy’ — would cut U.S. costs in Afghanistan and would give U.S. troops ‘an exit ramp,’” Wehle wrote.

“Particularly chilling,” she continued, “is Prince’s suggestion that the replacement of U.S. troops with a corporate army would be inherently democratic, on the grounds that, as he put it, ‘Trump was hired to remake our government.’”

Wehle was blunt: “There is nothing democratic about Prince’s plan. If implemented, it would threaten the very integrity of the U.S. Constitution. […]

“Private contractors are not accountable to the American public in the same ways that government actors are accountable. Private industry also has a profit-making incentive, making it less interested in serving the public good than are government officials who take an oath to uphold the Constitution — and whose jobs do not depend on the bottom line of a spreadsheet.”

Read the article here.

Learn more about Professor Wehle, whose book, The Outsourced Constitution: How Public Power in Private Hands Erodes Democracy, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

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