Random Play by Graham Reid

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Random Play: Cash from Chaos

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  • JP Hansen,

    I read that thing about this being Clapton's 1st NZ show in the HoS yesterday. My friend and I came to the conclusion that in 1990 we must have seen Eric Carmen.

    Or Richard Clapton.

    Someone going by the name Eric Clapton also played here in the mid Seventies.

    I absolutely loved Clapton's Dominos heavy and Classic-Hits-Pop-Song light set on Saturday.

    Waitakere • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    "Cash from Chaos"--I like that.
    It sounds like the Bush Crime Family's theme tune.

    OK, just perusing the contracor deaths listed on icasualties.org (incomplete list), we can see three NZers have died in Iraq:
    16 Dec 2006, Steve Gilchrist, roadside bomb, Armourgroup
    08 Aug 2006, Te Ina Marokura Ngamata, roadside bomb, Armourgroup
    10 May 2004, John Robert Tyrrell, small arms attack, Iraqi construction company

    What about Fiji then?
    18 dead, 11 of them in 2006.

    Three deaths listed.

    South Africa: 21 (half in 2004)
    Nepal: 19 (all in 2004)
    Canada: 5 (four of them in 2004)
    Philippines: 9 (only one in 2006)
    France: 3 (all in 2004)
    Britian: 38 (12 in 2006)
    USA: 152 (36 in 2006/07)

    In total, 386 contractors dead in just under four years.
    My guess is that Fiji has the highest per capita contractor death rate in Iraq (no. dead/population).

    But with hundreds of Iraqis dying every day, it seems like most of the press and the bloggers have just lost interest. Even the Americans losing 30-odd in one weekend was just a blip on google news.

    Aren't you glad that there were no 24/7 news cycles to dull everyone's brain back in the days when the US was bombing Indochina back to the stone age?

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 645 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    From the LA Times via commondreams.org:

    Thursday, January 25, 2007

    Our Mercenaries in Iraq

    The president relies on thousands of private soldiers with little oversight, a disturbing example of the military-industrial complex.

    by Jeremy Scahill

    As President Bush took the podium to deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday, there were five American families receiving news that has become all too common: Their loved ones had been killed in Iraq. But in this case, the slain were neither "civilians," as the news reports proclaimed, nor were they U.S. soldiers. They were highly trained mercenaries deployed to Iraq by a secretive private military company based in North Carolina — Blackwater USA.

    The company made headlines in early 2004 when four of its troops were ambushed and burned in the Sunni hotbed of Fallouja — two charred, lifeless bodies left to dangle for hours from a bridge. That incident marked a turning point in the war, sparked multiple U.S. sieges of Fallouja and helped fuel the Iraqi resistance that haunts the occupation to this day.

    Now, Blackwater is back in the news, providing a reminder of just how privatized the war has become. On Tuesday, one of the company's helicopters was brought down in one of Baghdad's most violent areas. The men who were killed were providing diplomatic security under Blackwater's $300-million State Department contract, which dates to 2003 and the company's initial no-bid contract to guard administrator L. Paul Bremer III in Iraq. Current U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who is also protected by Blackwater, said he had gone to the morgue to view the men's bodies, asserting the circumstances of their deaths were unclear because of "the fog of war."

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 645 posts Report Reply

  • Graham Reid,

    Thanks to Nick who, rather more diligently than me, pursued the on-line thing.
    The article I mentioned is here:


    auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • Brendan Cameron,

    Wow, cool story. My mates dad was SAS and is now over there working for a 'security firm'. He earns truckloads apparently but my mate says it's not really the money that he's there for. It's good but he was saying it's more that he is respected and is valued for his knowledge and his experience whereas back here he is a nobody and his experience counts for little.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Alex Coleman,

    The mercenary issue gives me a feeling I can only describe as a dose of the non-specific creeps.

    The US has the most expensive military in history, why do they feel a need for private armies to fill roles such as the protection of civilian US govt figures in the war zone? Why do they want a bunch of guys running around outside the chain of command, on the govt dime? What budget does all this come out of and what sort of oversight is there? It reeks to me of plausible deniability for the training of death squads.

    It takes Ike's military-industrial-complex meme to insane dimensions.

    No slur intended, Brendan, to your mates Dad. There are a lot of private guys over there that are not working for the US govt in military roles. I'm only concerned about the blackwater types.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 247 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    The thought of a highly-trained private army, combined with the obfuscatory skill and political amorality of a major corporation, gives me a highly specific form of the creeps.

    Who else is hiring these guys? Have they started franchising in the Third World yet?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Bol,

    The outsourcing in Iraq isn't limited to dodgy private security companies. Dodgy PR companies get the big bucks as well.


    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 32 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The outsourcing in Iraq isn't limited to dodgy private security companies. Dodgy PR companies get the big bucks as well.

    Oh yeah. Lincoln Group was bizarre from the beginning. There's more on the founder, Christian Bailey, here:


    The amount of money that has been thrown around in the form of political favours, or as just plain folly, is simply staggering.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Hodge,

    Mercenaries have been a way of life in Iraq at least since 401 BC when Cyrus, pretender to the Persian throne, hired Xenophon and the Ten Thousand (Greek hoplites, out of work at the end of the Peloponnesian War) to fight for his cause.

    In the last 20 or so years private security has become lucrative, with Iraq the latest business opportunity. For example, many of the companies that work in Iraq also provide security for oil and mining corporations in Africa and South America - Executive Outcomes being one of the more notorious operators in Africa.

    Machiavelli, who had direct experience of mercenary troops in 15th/16th century Italy, scorned their abilities: "If a prince bases the defence of his state on mercenaries he will never achieve stability or security." A lesson for the Americans and modern day Iraq perhaps?


    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1 posts Report Reply

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