Judy Mandelbaum

Judy Mandelbaum
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June 01
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Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 9, 2012 7:07AM

Is NATO employing slave labor in Afghanistan?

Rate: 12 Flag

According to the US State Department, “Afghanistan is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation.” Now it appears yet again that the American-led NATO military force stationed there is not just part of the solution, but is also part of the problem.

Accusations of abuse at the hands of NATO troops and their contractors are nothing new in Afghanistan: Back in 2010, a Texas-based contractor called DynCorp, which received millions of dollars from the State Department for police training, was busted by WikiLeaks for contracting the services of a 17-year-old so-called “dancing boy” at a company farewell party in Kunduz, thus violating national and international child abuse and trafficking laws (thanks, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, for uncovering the story!). But now, over the past weekend a Swedish newspaper reported that the 530-strong Swedish contingent in Afghanistan has been unknowingly employing Indian and Nepalese contract workers on its base under what amount to slave conditions, displacing locally hired employees whom the Swedes had hired directly. A Swiss contracting firm called Supreme hired the new workers through an Indian subcontractor under the condition that they yield their first eight monthly paychecks to the company. This indenture system, familiar to students of early US history and still commonplace throughout much of the developing world, is now regarded as another name for human trafficking.

Thanks to the new contracting firm, the Swedish army was able to lower the wages it paid to its cooks and cleaning personnel from $460 to $200 per month, all of which, it seems, lined the pockets of the Indian recruiting firm.

Afghanistan

(vansterpartiet.se)

Colonel Anders Löfberg, the commander of the Swedish "Provincial Reconstruction Team" in Mazar-e-Sharif, is livid. “As Swedes, we are outraged at all cases of injustice and we take it very seriously when people are taken advantage of in this way. Our assignment is to support, develop, and assist. When someone in our vicinity, in our camp, has low morale in regard to these issues, that doesn’t feel good, to put it mildly.”

Are other contracting firms committing similar violations at US and NATO bases around the world, and in American installations in Iraq, which employ over 10,000 contractors? (In fact, the vast US embassy in Baghdad was partially built by slave laborers smuggled into the country from across Asia at American taxpayers' expense). No one seems to know just how large the problem is.

For now, the Swedish government is cancelling the arrangement and suing Supreme for breach of contract, but it is unsure what will happen to the workers. Supreme is in turn filing suit against the Indian subcontractor and promises to report the firm to “the responsible authorities” in order to help the workers get their lost wages back and return to their home countries in safety. But just who is "responsible" when it comes to human trafficking? Whoever it is, it clearly isn’t NATO. It's having a hard time establishing justice and the rule of law on its own bases, let alone in entire countries.

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Comments

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There aren't enough gods and goddesses, in all the universes ever thought of, to forgive this conscienceless trafficking of human beings.

It makes my skin crawl to think that, if the UN and the Amerikan forces there in Afghanistan had anything to do with this, then it is 99% sure that my own Canada did too. Unutterably disgusting!
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Am so tired of "I didn't know!" Why isn't there a system in place to check it out?
@phyllis45,
There is. It's called "The Media". They are the ones who are supposed to keep us up to date on things like this. This is their mandate and duty to the citizens of a democratic society. Perhaps them not doing this job is indicative of the deterioration of the democracy we thought we had.
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America: defending freedom one more time. Or why we're in Afghanistan?
@Sky, It should be up to the company to make sure they are doing business with a legitimate entity especially in a place that is as rife with corruption as that place is. It is, after all, the company that hired them that's going to get slammed, not just the company that supplied them.
Baltimore,
In fact, the workers received NO money at all, since their complete wages went to the contracting firm. Moreover, they had to live on base for security reasons, so although they got fed, the situation was clearly one amounting to slavery. Now that they are being fired, they are in complete limbo.

Regarding even more gruesome examples of human trafficking, sure, that exists, I've written about it here and will continue writing about it. This case is significant because it occurred right under NATO's nose. I suspect there's a lot more of it going on, simply because human trafficking is endemic in the countries we're trying to "civilize" without having a clue as to how to go about it.
DynCorp has a long history of contracting sex slaves, under-aged or not. Americans hate child predators - until there's corporate profit involved! And American contractors in Iraq were using third worlders as cannon fodder to make deliveries through the red danger zones because who cared if they got killed.

But isn't that the whole point of money: To free the few and enslave the masses?
In the words of my husband, "Man is a bad animal."
One of the worst kept secrets in the world. I'll go you one better--the private contractors used to do the same thing to service and build the US bases and prisons, but stopped when Karzai complained that it was cutting in on his own government's own use of slave laborers! If there's anything one slave master can't stand, it's competition from another slave master.
Rated.
Thanks for your reporting, Judy. I cannot find words to express my repulsion against this. I'll echo SkypixieO's comments.
Rated♥
Thank you for reporting on this Judy.
My main concern is that, though we're using people for slave labor in Afghanistan, are we using enough of them? It's important to remember that, for most Asiatic sorts, slave labor is an improvement over what they're born into.
There are people who think that because of the extreme poverty that exists in Afghanistan that it is OK to use slave labor because it is an "improvement". This would be consistent with the the kind of economic thinking that exists in the USA where poverty level wages are applauded as "job creation."

We have proven to be very successful at spreading death and destruction in Afghanistan. I suppose we'll be totally our successes at slave labor pretty soon.

Tell me again. How does all of this makes the world a better place?
sky you wrote: "There aren't enough gods and goddesses, in all the universes ever thought of, to forgive this conscienceless trafficking of human beings.

"It makes my skin crawl to think that, if the UN and the Amerikan forces there in Afghanistan had anything to do with this, then it is 99% sure that my own Canada did too. "

I suspect you believe in social equality among the various planetary cultures and do not condone, for instance, forcible prohibitions against the widespread practice of female genital mutilation that is routine in much of the undeveloped African World.

Or do you?
@ejdavid301,
Having checked your page on OS, I find that you've only been in existence for a few hours and have inserted "troll" comments on a half dozen blogs.

My answer to your question: "Stick it in your ear, doofus."
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We Brits do it to the Ghurkas.
When they retire from Military Service they get a pension ''in keeping'' with their local home wage had they lived in their own country and not that paid to a Brit Forces Employee.
I've heard rumours that this is changing but ......

All countries cost cut and treat their (what do the US call them?) vets. It's wrong but not new.
sky - You Wrote: "I find that you've only been in existence for a few hours and have inserted "troll" comments on a half dozen blogs.
My answer to your question: "Stick it in your ear, doofus."

I simply posted, among other things: "I suspect you believe in social equality among the various planetary cultures and do not condone, for instance, forcible prohibitions against the widespread practice of female genital mutilation that is routine in much of the undeveloped African World."

So. Do you or do you not support the forcible prohibition against female genital mutilation? Or do you believe that would be an imposition of cultural imperialism?

So far I understand you seem familiar with the word doofus. Perhaps you are intimately familiar?


.
old new lefty - You wrote: "America: defending freedom one more time. Or why we're in Afghanistan?"

We are in Afghanistan, and were in Iraq, because we are at war with Islam. Iraq has been adequately disassembled so that its totalitarian infrastructure is not available to Muslamic Jihadists for at least a generation. This is unlike Iran where a similar infrastructure was directly inherited by Muslamic Maniacs.

I suspect, however, that you positively salivate at the possible deployment of an Iranian nuke. Me too......
baltimore - you wrote: "...the biggest source of putative "slave labor" in the middle east are families who sell their daughters..." Of course that is the case. We are dealing with pre-civilized societies. In fact, it is not clear they COULD be civilized except by going 'Roman' on them as was done with the Druids in Britain.

"... in 61 AD, Suetonius Paulinus managed to get his army across the Menai Strait and massacred the druids and burnt their sacred groves [at Anglesey]". Google 'human sacrifice druids'.
Creek - You wrote: "All countries cost cut and treat their (what do the US call them?) vets..." I was drafted to Vietnam. I never complained about how I was treated after I got back. I just did not like the indentured servitude previous.
drew - you wrote: " ... though we're using people for slave labor in Afghanistan, are we using enough of them? It's important to remember that, for most Asiatic sorts, slave labor is an improvement over what they're born into."

Slavery to an American has been, historically speaking, every peasants dream. We treat our local employees so much better then their own countrymen it is a danger to them. A local professor takes American students to Vietnam. He told me an old woman indicated she had worked for the Americans and she fondly stroked his hand.

I doubt any of these lefters have EVER seen how an actual class system really works. I would sell them into temporary servitude for 36 hours. Jeezus ........ after 12 hours they would beg to clean open latrines with their bare hands.
Thanks for posting this. I'm just commenting as a way of bookmarking it. This ought to be on Salon's main site.
This is depressing.
The morality has been long dead, only the news of its death has not been widely circulated.
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