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Earlier this month, the Guardian did something US publications are avoiding, discussing the number of mercenaries left over in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the US government isn't just rebranding the occupation, it's also privatising it. There are around 100,000 private contractors working for the occupying forces, of whom more than 11,000 are armed mercenaries, mostly "third country nationals", typically from the developing world. One Peruvian and two Ugandan security contractors were killed in a rocket attack on the Green Zone only a fortnight ago.

Now, the distinction of "armed mercenaries" should be discussed. The unarmed, at least the Pentagon tells us, contractors are doing jobs that traditionally have been done by military personnel. The effect is that the combat duty (which definitely will continue after this limited withdrawal) will be concentrated among lower paid US military units in Iraq, adding to the stress and misery caused by stop loss and tour after tour in Iraq.Iraq Deaths Estimator

It also is important to keep in mind that when you add the two forces together, military and mercenary, you get an occupying force of 150,000, which is a huge occupation.

The most frustrating thing is that President Obama could have gotten us out of Iraq entirely during the first few months of his administration, but he insists on dragging out the Iraq war and occupation as long as he can. It's bad for the Democrats, worse for the US as a country, and catastrophic for the Iraqi people. Obama needs to stop the war and put an end to this endless occupation and slaughter.





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