Two of President Donald Trump's closest aides have reportedly solicited advice from two wealthy private military contractors—Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater, and Stephen Feinberg, the billionaire owner of DynCorp International—on how to proceed with the sixteen-year-long war in Afghanistan.
"That Erik 'Wage Holy War For Profit' Prince is talking to cabinet members should but probably won't be a huge story."
—Kate Aronoff, In These Times
According to the New York Times, White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and senior advisor Jared Kushner "recruited" the contractors, who have made a hefty sum from perpetual conflict in the Middle East, "to devise alternatives to the Pentagon’s plan to send thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan."
Following a meeting with Bannon and Kushner, Prince and Feinberg have "developed proposals to rely on contractors instead of American troops in Afghanistan," the Times notes.
"The highly unusual meeting dramatizes the divide between Mr. Trump's generals and his political staff over Afghanistan, the lengths to which his aides will go to give their boss more options for dealing with it and the readiness of this White House to turn to business people for help with diplomatic and military problems," the Times reports. "But it also raises a host of ethical issues, not least that both men could profit from their recommendations."
As Common Dreams reported last month, Prince penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in which he recommended a "viceroy approach" in Afghanistan that would rely heavily on private security forces.
Critics characterized Prince's proposals as tantamount to "colonialism" and argued they exude "sheer 19th century bloodlust and thirst for empire."
Following the Times reporting on Monday, commentators denounced the attempt to give credence to the ideas of war profiteers as "lunacy."
This is lunacy; a real estate brat and a former film producer/right wing extremist are laying out military options? https://t.co/owkFVDuaB7
— David Leopold (@DavidLeopold) July 11, 2017
That Erik "Wage Holy War For Profit" Prince is talking to cabinet members should but probably won't be a huge story https://t.co/JCjvE768uv
— Kate Aronoff (@KateAronoff) July 11, 2017
— Joshua Holland (@JoshuaHol) July 11, 2017
I am shocked that a defense contractor thinks we should send more contractors into Afghanistan. https://t.co/OcMkepdZtb
— Adam Smith (@asmith83) July 11, 2017
— Eric Geller (@ericgeller) July 11, 2017