The Plague Called the Pentagon
The Feds Don’t Like Competition
by Karen Kwiatkowski
I remember reading State Department cables and CIA analyses back in the late 1990s and early 2000s about former Soviet military officer Victor Bout. Bout was nearly mythological in Africa, my area of primary focus in those years. His business was profitably putting weapons, small arms, and battlefield gear no longer needed by the Soviet empire into the hands of other governments and organizations that did. Bout’s logistics companies made excellent use of former Soviet and Eastern European military pilots, among other things. His employees were a throwback to the Errol Flynn era, tough and swashbuckling risk takers.
Bout was often portrayed as evil incarnate our intelligence agencies – as if the supplier of the weapons created the marketplace. Governments think that way, and Obama and Bush “jobs” programs and debt- and printing press- funded stimuli make sense if you believe that creating a consumer and moving rocks around (whether with shovels or teaspoons) is the same as creating value.
Conditions for conflict exist wherever corrupt vampire states suffer awakened and angry populations, or begin to fear competition from other power hungry gangs. And when it comes to a government’s primary function of remaining in power, you can believe that our own government recognizes these conditions for conflict, and is working hard to ameliorate them – or failing that, tarring the messengers.
By the time I got to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, in 2000, I began to wonder why, if we knew so much about what Bout was doing, and where he was, and complained so loudly about his awfulness, why we didn’t just arrest him already, or have one of our puppet states do it.