I can’t help it. I just keep coming back to parallels between what is happening in our country and what happened in Nazi Germany.
During WWII, the Nazi’s labeled many groups as ‘undesirables’. These included: Jews, intellectuals, criminals who weren’t savvy enough to ingratiate themselves with or join the Nazi Party, Gypsies, homosexuals, dissidents, protesters, underground workers, the physically handicapped, the emotionally handicapped, the mentally retarded, people who owned land or property the Nazi elite wanted, people who had been wealthy or powerful before the Nazis came to power and couldn’t be controlled by them, the list just goes on and on.
Adolf Eichmann coordinated the trains that moved those people from their homes to numerous slave labor or death camps, most of which were located in Poland.
In the 1960’s, when an Israeli task group caught up with him and transported him to Israel to stand trial for crimes against humanity, Eichmann’s defense was that he was just a cog in the great machine — a clerk doing his job. The fact that his job resulted in the deaths of over 11,000,000 people was not his concern.
Eichmann was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death.
Recently, I watched a television show on PBS that outlined a similar situation.
Our government officials wanted to conduct the war in Iraq on the cheap and simultaneously reward their cronies with lucrative contracts. To these ends they did not, as had been done in previous wars, arrange for the soldiers to perform KP or MP or motor-pool duty, or engage in any of the many other jobs necessary to keep a military operation up and running. Instead they farmed out such jobs to private companies. One of these was Halliburton.
Halliburton, answering as it does to its shareholders rather than to the people of this country [though we were the ones paying for the services it was supposed to be providing], wanted to do its job on the cheap. It sent to nearby poor countries to recruit young men to do the cooking, cleaning, vehicle maintenance and other behind-the-scenes jobs necessary to make the military operations functional.
Executives of Halliburton were known to boast about the money-saving tactics they were using in running the war effort.
Here is the story of one young man caught up in Halliburton’s system. As will become apparent, he is by no means the only one.
His name was Krishna and he lived in Nepal. His mother had worked for many years breaking stones with a hammer. For this work she was paid a pittance but she was able to at least put food on the table for her family.
When Krishna grew up, he wanted to better his family’s living conditions so he attempted to find work in a more prosperous country than Nepal. He heard about a recruiter who was promising jobs to young men in four star hotels in Jordan. He applied for one of these positions and, after an interview, was told that he qualified for the job. He had to pay an enormous sum [about a decade’s worth of wages] in order to secure the position. He somehow scrounged the money from savings, from friends, from family members and presented himself at the debarkation area. There he was relieved of his new passport and loaded into a truck for the journey.
He was taken, not to a prestigious hotel in Jordan, but along a dangerous highway route in Iraq. There, the convoy of trucks was stopped. The drivers were told to drop off their human cargo [in this particular run, twelve young men] and that the Americans would pick them up.
Whether the young men ever got to their ultimate destination, I don’t know. Obviously, it had never been the plan to take them to the hotel where they had been promised employment.
What I do know is that one of the young men was beheaded. The rest were executed by a bullet to the back of the head.
The jihadist group that conducted the executions stated that they did so because the men were, ‘cooperating with the Americans.’
Obviously, that had never been Krishna’s intention. He wanted to make a better life for himself and his mother by finding work in Jordan. He paid an exhorbitant fee. His passport was taken from him—making him the prisoner of the people who had deceived him. At the first sign of resistance along the way, he was abandoned by those same people. He was the fifth of the eleven remaining men in the group [after the first had been beheaded] to have a gun put to the back of his head and be assassinated.
And, what is the parallel with Eichmann?
All the people who were tracked down by Cam Simpson—the reporter from the Chicago Tribune who pieced the story together—from the people who recruited Krishna to those who interviewed him to those who transported and, ultimately, abandoned him and the other eleven by the side of the road, said the same thing: ‘I was just a cog in the machine. Someone else would have done it if I hadn't. It wasn’t my responsibility.’
Since this incident occurred in 2004, Halliburton is, so far as I know, no longer a contractor with the US military.
I’m also fairly certain that no one at Halliburton has been held accountable for the human trafficking and the human suffering and the deaths of these twelve and who knows how many others. And, while it was going on, they made huge profits for themselves and their shareholders.
Meanwhile, we act the part of the Germans, the Poles, the Czechs, the French who knew and didn't know what was being done in Germany and Poland in their names.
To the extent that we stand by and allow it to happen, we are guilty.