by Chris Floyd | TheMoscowTimes.com | 11 December 2003
Sometimes the smallest sliver of glass can reflect the brilliance of the entire moon, full and blazing in the midnight sky. And just so, a simple story in an out-of-the-way journal can illuminate the ethos of an entire age, piercing the murk with a sudden flash of stark and painful truth.
The brutal essence of the Bushist Era was thus laid bare last week in the unlikely venue of the Army Times, a corporate-owned military newspaper in Washington. In an article detailing the effectiveness of a new kind of ammunition, the paper -- inadvertently, we assume -- stripped away the patriotic tinfoil wrapped around the arms industry and revealed that "patriotism" for what it really is: extortion, crude and thuggish, a raw greed driven by threats -- including the threat of turning their death-wares against the Americans they are purporting to defend.
The story, by John Roos, deals with the controversy over a new bullet made by a Texas firm, RBCD, and distributed by Le Mas Ltd. of Arkansas. As Roos explains, the new 5.66-mm Le Mas round is "frangible" -- it will "penetrate steel and other hard targets but will not pass through a human torso." Instead, it effectively explodes inside a body, ravaging tissue in all directions, "creating untreatable wounds."
The ammo has not been adopted by the U.S. military yet, but it is being used by some of the "private security consultants" hired by the Bush administration to prowl the streets of occupied Iraq. These mercenaries are not always bound by the laws and codes of honor that govern regular military forces, so they're free to do any dirty work that the Bushists want to keep off the books. They are also free to carry out productive "field experiments" of new ammo on human targets, the paper reports.
Roos writes of hired gun Ben Thomas, who works for an unnamable company carrying out unspecified tasks in Iraq for the Bush Regime. Thomas cheerfully relates his first kill with Le Mas' fabulous frangible, during what he said was a skirmish with Iraqi gunmen in a rural village near Baghdad. "It entered his butt and completely destroyed everything in the lower left section of his stomach," Thomas said of the single bullet from his M4 carbine. "Everything was torn apart. Nobody [could] believe this guy died from a butt shot."
Thomas and his fellow irregulars made sure to examine his handiwork when the fight was over, exploring the dead man's exploded rectum to study the effects of the new round. The verdict? The bullet's a beaut. "There's absolutely no comparison, whatever, none" to the piddling damage caused by lesser 5.56-mm cartridges, Thomas said. And he should know, telling Roos that he has "shot people with various types of ammo" in his shadowy work around the world. He's stocking up on the Le Mas butt-buster, he added, and will be taking plenty to his privatized pals when he returns to Baghdad after a brief chill-out in Florida.
But it seems there's trouble in this shooter's paradise. Despite the butt-buster's marvelous ability to create untreatable wounds -- guaranteeing an agonizing death to any enemy (or innocent bystander, or victim of friendly fire, etc.) -- the Army has yet to place an order with Le Mas. Army experts say earlier tests show the bullet doesn't wreak appreciably more tissue-ripping havoc than ammo already in stock. Although more tests have been mandated by well-greased Bushist congressmen, Army brass have remained dubious.
But Hell hath no fury like an arms dealer scorned. Le Mas says the Army's tests were fatally flawed: They fired the bullets into cold gelatin, while the ammo's true effectiveness can only be measured by blasting live animals (or Iraqi villagers). Company officials hint darkly of a conspiracy among Pentagon brass to protect their own favored ammo programs. To break the power of this dastardly cabal, Le Mas has hired lobbyist Bill Skipper to carry the fight to Washington. And Skipper has a simple message: cross our palms with public silver -- or else.
"When I heard of the ballistic characteristics of this ammo, as a retired military officer, I realized it has to stay in the good guys' hands," Skipper told Army Times. "This is an issue of national security."
Let's ponder that for a moment. Why is the Army's decision in this matter "an issue of national security?" It's obvious: because if the "good guys" don't buy Le Mas' gut-chewing ammo, then they will sell it to the bad guys -- to anyone who'll pay the price. There is no other possible way to construe the firm's position. The Army's failure to purchase the ammunition can only put the nation's security at risk if Le Mas sells the bullets to America's enemies. If they would forswear this possibility, there would be no such risk. Instead, they have made it the linchpin of their money-grubbing campaign.
Here we see the "morality" of those who traffic in death -- from small-time players like Le Mas to the Bushist boardrooms of the Carlyle Group, the corruption-riddled Boeing Corporation, Britain's scandal-plagued BAE and all the other masters of war who girdle the planet with blood and steel. Stripped of high-vaulting, self-deluding rhetoric, their pitch boils down to this: Pay us to help kill your enemies -- or we'll help your enemies kill you. The money is what matters.
Tear off that mask of patriotism and this is the reality: a death's head with dollar signs glowing in its empty eyes.