Steve Bannon Wants to Outsource Afghanistan to Mercs

Chris Kleponis/Avalon via ZUMA

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.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.