Monday, October 17, 2005

Indentured Servitude does not a Democracy Make

A downplayed news article I caught in the Albany Times Union reports that Halliburton's primary subsidiary in Iraq, KBR (which is the largest military contractor on the U.S. payroll for Iraq), is hiring subcontractors to find cheap labor to help in the rebuilding and securing of Iraq.

These subcontractors, according to the article, are luring men from countries, such as Nepal, with lies promising them work in safe Middle Eastern countries, like Kuwait, for lots of pay. When they are brought to work in Iraq and paid far less than promised there is little they can do, since they are often indebted to the subcontractors who brought them to the country and must work to pay off the debt (hence, indentured servant). According to Coalition Casualty Count nearly 100 foreign national contract workers have died in Iraq out of the 270 total contract workers who have died since the war.

The U.S. government and Halliburton are both pleading ignorant on this morally unconscionable practice. They claim that complaints about who is being brought into Iraq to work should be directed to the subcontractors.

The State Department urges sanctions on governments that engage in such practices, countries like Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, for the trafficking of indentured servants and slaves into their countries for cheap or free domestic and physical labor. Yet, President Bush waived the sanctions against them (since we're engaging in the practice ourselves), which allowed the U.S. to sell those countries weapons (this of course keeps the military-industrial complex appeased).

We cannot claim to be a nation that advances democracy while we allow our military contractors to engage in slavery practices. Bush's current premise (note that it's not the original argument for war) is that we are there to build a democracy. It appears to be a democracy for some.

The hypocrisy runs deep.


Annony_Friend said...

History is going to look back at this time and judge all of us pretty harshly. And rightly so. Human trafficing, torture, and occupation...not pretty pictures at all

Rod Carveth said...

Even more amazing is that the government handed out bonuses to contractors in Iraq, including something like $70+ million to Haliburton. And I thought Haliburton had been fined a number of times. :(

Jenny S-G said...

I hadn't read that the government gave bonuses . . . Disgusting.