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Pratap Chaterjee on Democracy Now!

In Uncategorized on April 7, 2009 at 12:04 am

Today, some of that most dangerous work is done by robots, and the dirty and dull stuff that Peter Singer talks about is done by South Asians, Southeast Asians, and they comprise, you know, Halliburton’s Army. So companies like KBR, a former—Kellogg Brown & Root, a former subsidiary of Halliburton, are now able to make money by providing—my book opens with Donald Rumsfeld saying, “Why should we, you know, Americans, be doing these things like cleaning toilets? We can outsource that. We need our soldiers to be able to do, you know, the important things in war.” And really, this is only possible, because with a volunteer army, as opposed to a draft army, you can recruit people from other countries.

I talked to drivers. They’re Fijian truck drivers. I think you might even have an interview that I did with this Fijian truck driver, who—ironically, Peter Singer’s, you know, grandfather was a soldier in the South Pacific; now you have truck drivers being flown from Fiji, you know, and people being flown from Sri Lanka, to come to fight in somebody else’s war, the American war. And their job, you know, for $300 a month, is to make sure that American troops can fight in Iraq.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to that clip that you describe. You can set it up for us, the clip of the Fijian driver.

PRATAP CHATTERJEE: The clip—the driver’s name is Titoko Savuwati, and he’s from Fiji, from Totoya Lau, and he basically was lured to Iraq with promise of a $3,000 salary. Once he actually got there, he discovered he’s going to be paid 50 KD a trip, which is about—

AMY GOODMAN: KD are…?

PRATAP CHATTERJEE: A KD is a Kuwaiti dinar, so that’s about $170.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to the clip.

TITOKO SAVUWATI: They never gave us any insurance. Most of our friends were shooting. Some was very badly shot, accident. But company never paid me anything. No single money. Like myself, I was fall down. My truck was tumbled, fall down. Yeah. So now, see my leg? I’m not going good now. I complained, but the company never gave me any money. Most of our trip to Iraq, we were only paid with 50 KDs allowance for trip. That’s all. Yeah. For 175 in one trip, they pay us 50 KD only for cross the border.

PRATAP CHATTERJEE: There and back?

TITOKO SAVUWATI: Yeah. Go, come back. Yeah. I think that 50 KD is filter for the drivers to go to Iraq, come back. I was asking, if anything happened to my life, I’m shooting from the Iraq people, maybe I die, is that 50 KD can send to my family to make my family survive by that 50 KD?

AMY GOODMAN: Pratap Chatterjee?

PRATAP CHATTERJEE: I mean, this is $180 he’s talking about. Now, actually, it’s $170, because of the exchange rates, that he’s getting paid. And the irony of Titoko, one day he dropped me off, and he said, “Hey, listen. Can I borrow one KD”—that was $3.50—“so I can go get some lunch?” Here’s this man driving, you know, twice—he’s driven a hundred trips into Iraq, you know, each time being paid $180 from this company, Agility. It’s a subcontractor to KBR. And at the end of the day, he’s bringing food, he’s bringing ice cream and bagels and turkey and—you know, to American soldiers. But his life, when he gets injured, nobody pays him. If he dies, you know, who’s going to take care of his family?

But that is Halliburton’s Army. It is an army of cheap labor, you know, working for big contractors in Houston that keeps the US Army—the US Army will not shut this operation down. Obama is not going to kick these guys out, because how does he ship back the equipment from Iraq to the United States? He’s going to have to use these contractors. Everything went in with the contractors. It’s like shutting down a nuclear power station. Who knows the system best, you know, to shut down a nuclear power station? You go back to the Bechtels who built it to shut it down. Same thing here. When Obama—if he moves soldiers out of that theater, he’s either going to use more contractors, or he’s going to use those contractors to bring them back. So, they’ve made $25 billion in contracts so far. They’re going to make another $10 billion, at least.

http://www.democracynow.org/2009/2/9/pratap_chatterjee_on_halliburtons_army_how

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