I am normally a pretty staunch supporter of privatisation. I just provide the double pronged caveat: where it is well thought out, and where it makes sense. Juan Cole has a contract tender specification posted which for me defies all reasonable explanation. It is for a private contract force to protect the Green Zone, the headquarters of the American administration of Iraq in Baghdad. This seems beyond comprehension in its absurdity, but I am sure someone out there will be only too willing to try and put me straight.
The threats that the private security force will be asked to meet provide a summary of the dangers facing U.S. and coalition personnel 10 months after President Bush declared the main fighting over. The contractor, according to the bid proposal, must be prepared to deal with vehicles containing explosive devices, the improvised explosives planted on roads, “direct fire and ground assaults by upwards of 12 personnel with military rifles, machine guns and RPG [rocket-propelled grenade], indirect fire by mortars and rockets, individual suicide bombers, and employment of other weapons of mass destruction . . . in an unconventional warfare setting.” To meet that challenge, the bidders’ personnel must have prior military experience, and those involved directly in force protection must have “operated in U.S., North Atlantic Treaty Organization or other military organizations compatible with NATO standards.” ‘