President Trump loves the military. He’s made it more powerful, called its equipment “beautiful,” and tried to celebrate it with an absurdly expensive parade. But even he’s growing frustrated with the military’s strategy in Afghanistan, where a seemingly endless war approaches its 17th year.
And so, NBC News reports, Trump is considering a plan to privatize the whole damn thing. The move, pushed by Blackwater founder Erik Prince, would replace soldiers with mercenaries working for a “viceroy” who reports directly to Trump.
“I know he’s frustrated,” Prince told NBC News on the one-year anniversary of Trump’s reluctant approval of a troop increase in Afghanistan. “He gave the Pentagon what they wanted … And they haven’t delivered.”
Prince said he’s soon to embark on a public push to get Trump to embrace his plan, which he first pitched Trump last summer with a PowerPoint presentation. Now, some of Trump’s “advisers” fear that his impatience with the lack of progress in Afghanistan “will cause him to seriously consider proposals like Prince’s,” NBC News reports.
Apparently, Trump’s renewed interest of the privatization plan came after he saw a video of Prince, whose sister is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, arguing that his plan is more economical. It’s not a new line for him. Last year, Prince said his plan would cost $10 billion, significantly less than the $40 billion the Pentagon budgeted for the war.
Even if that was true, and it probably isn’t, there are plenty of other problems with fighting a war exclusively with private military contractors, as ex-mercenary Sean McFate wrote in The Atlantic last year:
However, as an ex-military contractor, I cannot think of a worse solution for Afghanistan. There are many concerns about the safety, accountability, and morality of going into business with these types of outfits. … Mercenaries also breed war and suffering. For-profit warriors proliferate armed conflict — as long as there is someone to pay, there will always be a war to start, expand or prolong. History shows us that they often maraud between contracts, preying on the innocent.
Prince, no doubt, has left those things out of his PowerPoint.