Blackwater Isn't the Only Security Contractor With Something to Hide
June, 03 2008 By Edward S. Herman
Identifying any kind of war criminal is tricky. It is common to latch on to the hit men, or the ones issuing the immediate orders, while ignoring the planners and decision-makers, the funders, and those providing intellectual and moral support. And of course war criminals (military division [MD]) are always found only on the losing side, when frequently there are outstanding candidates among the winners. Identifying war criminals is hard to do without an arbitrariness that renders the whole effort dubious.
As for economics-based criminality, the very idea is anathema to the western establishment, because it points up an area in which its principals are vulnerable. Just as the West (and especially the United States) fought against incorporating economic (and social) rights as fundamental rights in post World War II formulations of the International Declaration of Human Rights, so today it avoids the phrase "class war" as well as the possibility of criminality associated with economic policy and private economic actions. The western establishment devotedly supports capitalism, which means "economic freedom," which means the freedom to starve as well as accumulate wealth.
It also means the right of establishment politicians to carry out economic policies that immiserate and kill large numbers of people, and the right of the corporate elite to fire, exploit, and otherwise mistreat employees within the (flexible) limits of the law. These rights are fundamental to the system, and spokespersons for contemporary capitalism view any immiseration produced by its normal operations as inescapable facts of nature, like cosmic rays. As we are in a New World Order of resurgent corporate power, more aggressive class warfare, an ongoing global redistribution of income upward, return to "Dickensian" work conditions, and environmental devastation, the notion of economic criminality is especially dangerous. Immiseration must be normalized, and it is the function of the intellectuals at the Cato, American Enterprise, Manhattan and other institutes, and economists at the University of Chicago and elsewhere, to extend the intellectual and moral boundaries of potential immiseration.