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Monday, April 24, 2006
 
1984

Back in 1984, I was a junior lieutenant in an ASW squadron on the east coast. It was a good time to be in the military and an especially good time to be in an ASW outfit. The Soviets were still in business back then and were spending rivers of money driving their missile submarines in loiter patterns near our coastlines. Our mission was to keep track of them from the air.

As a junior officer, it was tough to find a meaningful ground job to do; squadrons tend to be officer-heavy and the Navy expects their aviators to not only fly, but also to lead and manage all aspects of squadron operations. One of the jobs I managed to land was Material Control Officer. This was a great job, with a lot of responsibility and a staff of eight enlisted sailors who reported to me via my CPO.

One of the things my shop did was to run the Tool Room and keep track of the squadron’s tools. We had a lot of them, and they wore out at a terrific pace. When something wore out, it needed to be deleted from the inventory and a new item ordered. Sometimes it was a specialty tool, but more often it was something that any hardware store might carry.

One day, I wondered out loud why we couldn’t just go down to the Sears store and pick up Craftsman hand tools, since they were cheaper, higher quality, and easier to get than the tools that we had to order. Plus, they had a “lifetime” guarantee. It turned out that we weren’t authorized to spend our tool money at Sears, because they hadn’t jumped through the EEOC and workplace standards documentation hoops that were required for DoD vendors at that time.

Today, I’m wondering how on earth we got to this place; where our DoD contractors have been permitted to abuse foreign workers and hold them in indentured and abusive servitude in Iraq. 1984 was a good year to be American. It was easy to be proud of your country then. It's not so easy now.

 
Shouting into the closet to inform and entertain the 10 people who actually read this thing. In our new format as an online magazine, we take pride in our reporting and opinions. Please leave reader feedback on our online magazine message board so that we can better serve you.

“There’s a lot of money to pay for this that doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people…and on a rough recollection, the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years…We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” -Paul Wolfowitz

Cost of the War in Iraq
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