Sunday, September 23, 2007

Opinion (Douglas Farah): War and Terror Inc.

Immediately after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush declared that the rest of the world had to decide whether it was with us or against us. But it turns out that in the new world order, you can be both -- and make a boatload of money in the process.

Take Viktor Bout, a Russian air-transport magnate and the world's premier gray- market arms provider. Every year, warlords, gangsters, militiamen and terrorists kill tens of thousands of people in wars that are only sporadically reported to the outside world. They do their butchery using weapons obtained and delivered, to all sides of these conflicts, by Bout and his ilk. These are the real weapons of mass destruction in the post-Cold War world, taking lives and shattering communities from the slums of Baghdad to the jungles of Colombia, from the streets of Beirut to the impoverished diamond-mining hamlets of West Africa.

No ideology and few moral considerations guide Bout. His new class of global entrepreneurs operates under virtually no international constraints, reaping hundreds of millions of dollars for themselves and corrupt officials in what's left of the military and intelligence services of the former Soviet bloc, whose vast, uncontrolled arsenals are the source of most of the lethal cargo. While the conduct of private contractors such as Blackwater USA -- the American security company back in the news last week after its officers were involved in a deadly Baghdad shootout -- come under some scrutiny and government control, not even such minimal accountability is required of the world's foremost weapons merchants.

Read the rest at the Washington Post