This statement was written for tonight's celebration of the Izzy Award for "special achievement in independent media" -- named after journalist I.F. "Izzy" Stone. The Izzy -- awarded by Ithaca College's Park Center for Independent Media -- is being presented to Jeremy Scahill for human rights reporting that elevated military contractor abuses to front-page news.
In 1953, my age group was required to register for the draft. I well remember that this lottery of life was a serious matter -- draftees only a year or two older than ourselves had already died in a Korean War not really over. Today, the United States, along with ninety other countries, has abandoned the draft in favor of the use of volunteers.
This use of volunteers -- although it has obvious advantages -- has the unfortunate disadvantage of liberating the Government's decision to use military force from the political pressures that would exist were the sons of middle- and upper-class citizens subject to draft.
The commercial outsourcing of the use of force further distances the American political process from its authorized violence. Blackwater was not just providing personal security, it trained more than 40,000 people a year in military defensive and offensive operations. Using mostly no-bid contracts, it was making a mint out of war.
Blackwater in Iraq is a descendent of Vietnam-era contractors like Brown and Root. I. F. Stone recognized the corrosive impact of lucrative deals for these outfits, and Jeremy Scahill has shown that the role and influence of contractors are even greater now than they were in Vietnam.
In particular, as Jeremy has shown, outsourced force has been harder to control than conventional military force and has led to so much trouble that the Iraqi Government sought to expel them from Iraq.
Because of the nature of the outsourcing process -- combined with the hazardous situation in Iraq -- Jeremy's important investigative reports have been hard-won -- requiring courage, commitment, and endurance.
So I can see why the Izzy Award Committee settled on Jeremy. And I can only approve since, whether he knows it or not, he and I are related.
He was born in 1974 when the movie "Andromeda Strain", released a year or so before, was having a huge success. For obscure reasons, its handsome hero -- who saved the world with only ten seconds to spare -- was given my exact name, Dr. Jeremy Stone.
As a result, for a few years, the name "Jeremy" became very popular with new parents. And so I have quite a few of these nominal offspring of Jeremy Scahill's age.
What can I say? It seems that the Izzy Award selection committee has chosen, for its second award, some kind of grandson of I.F. Stone!