Steve Bannon Wants to Outsource Afghanistan to Mercs

Chris Kleponis/Avalon via ZUMA

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Trump’s inner circle has developed a genius plan for winning the war in Afghanistan:

Erik D. Prince, a founder of the private security firm Blackwater Worldwide, and Stephen A. Feinberg, a billionaire financier who owns the giant military contractor DynCorp International, have developed proposals to rely on contractors instead of American troops in Afghanistan at the behest of Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, and Jared Kushner, his senior adviser and son-in-law, according to people briefed on the conversations.

On Saturday morning, Mr. Bannon sought out Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at the Pentagon to try to get a hearing for their ideas, an American official said. Mr. Mattis listened politely but declined to include the outside strategies in a review of Afghanistan policy that he is leading along with the national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster.

At great personal expense and after conducting interviews with dozens of Mattis confidants, I have painstakingly reconstructed what Mattis was thinking while Bannon pitched this idea to him:

Blackwater …. DynCorp …. wait …. is he serious? …. that’s fucking brilliant, Steve …. what could go wrong? …. maybe we should ask Putin for Russian troops? …. jfc …. stay steady Jim …. nod your head …. uh huh …. uh huh …. what’s that? …. Prince thinks his boys can operate “cheaper and better than the military”? …. I’ll bet he does …. hey, how about if we just nuke the place? …. that would be cheaper and better …. is this guy ever going to leave? …. does he think I work weekends for my health? …. I wonder how much money these guys would make if we actually did outsource the war to them? …. gotta be billions …. give ’em credit for balls, anyway …. hmmm …. what? …. “Oh yeah, great meeting with you Steve” …. “Sure, sure, anytime” …. fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

Mattis is either the world’s biggest sellout or the world’s biggest hero. Time will tell, but probably the latter.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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