With CSAD’s conference well underway, a synopsis of discussions featuring Zalmay Khalilzad, Tony Smith and Elliott Abrams.
- Remaking nations in America’s image isn’t going to be easy. That much is obvious.
Tonight, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad kicked off the Center for the Study of American Democracy’s conference with a keynote address on the question of whether or not the United States should promote democracy abroad. Khalilzad, an international relations expert, served as the United States’ Ambassador to the United Nations, Iraq and Afghanistan under the Bush administration. He focused most of address on how questions of democracy promotion relate to our most recent conflicts in the middle east.
The AV is TKO’s occasional foray into politics via multimedia.
This video contains disturbing footage
Shameful stuff. The video (one of five) is part of a fascinating article on the rise of mercenary soldiers by Charles Glass in this past week’s Harper’s magazine. The article is eerily appropriate for the coming CSAD conference. Glass describes how mercenary soldiers have tacit agreements with Western nations to carry out quasi-imperialist ‘interventions’ across the globe without having to use the intervening nation’s flags in the process. It’s a convenient out for governments who wish to exert influence quickly, cheaply and powerfully without the pesky eye of the media or international watch dogs. This lack of accountability results in the type of stuff you’ll see in the video. Be forewarned, it’s pretty ugly.
With over fifty military contracting firms operating in Afghanistan alone, the mercenary industry is booming and its primary theaters are Iraq and Afghanistan. As Glass says “The golden age of the freelance soldier is now, and its end is anything but nigh.”
One of the most interesting discussions at this past week’s Agora was the distinction between moral impulses and normative effects. Ideals versus their application. It’s all well and good that we want to export democracy, but if this is what it looks like, we ought to think twice.
EDIT: I have been informed that shooting at oncoming cars is standard procedure in populated areas within Iraq as insurgents often attack coalition forces by ramming cars strapped with explosives into humvees and other vehicles. The shooting you see on this video may then not be inadvertent but warning or defensive shots in response to cars that are approaching the convoy. The first shot in the video seems to confirm this while the rest are more ambiguous.