Hard to figure out what is worse: this week’s 6th Annual Iraq Aviation & Defense summit – you can seek contracts by cozying up to purported top Iraq military officials for $2,895 for the two-day event at a swank hotel (lodging not included) – or that the Pentagon is letting it happen just down the street.
The lucre being tossed around has already been paid for in the blood of 4,485 dead U.S. troops, 32,200 U.S. wounded, and the untold far greater suffering of the Iraqi people, as well as U.S. allies (let’s overlook the nearly $1 trillion in sunk costs). It all happens inside a “443-room upscale hotel located just 10 minutes from Dulles Airport and just 20 minutes outside downtown Washington, D.C.”
A written invitation welcomes companies to held rebuilt Iraq. “Learn how to assist the Iraqi government to overcome its security and defense challenges,” the crude brochure says (how crude is it? It doesn’t even specify when or where it is being held). “Develop a business plan for the Iraqi military market.”
How crass is it? “Time has been set aside for one-on-one discussions between conference participants and Iraqi representatives at the conference,” the brochure notes. “There are a limited number of 15-minute time slots available for these discussions. If your organization is interested in submitting a request to reserve a time slot, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Ah yes, New-Fields Exhibitions. Good luck learning much about it. It’s the brainchild of Samir Farajallah, who is apparently from the United Arab Emirates. Its website strangely lacks any names — including his. Here’s an interesting 2009 peek into the operation. A question seeking more information about New-Fields, to the person who emailed Battleland an invitation to participate, went unanswered.
“In its sixth year, the Iraq Aviation and Defense Summit (IADS) is the world’s largest and most respected event focused on Iraq’s aviation, security, and defense challenges and opportunities,” the brochure notes, “IADS is the only event where you will hear from senior officials who are responsible for shaping the future of Iraq’s aviation and defense.”
“The only event”? If there is a market for this kind of thing, the Pentagon should sponsor it, for free, in the name of those Americans who gave so much in Iraq. Absent that, its leaders should hang their heads in shame for tolerating such a bloody bazaar just down the road. There are plenty of legal ways to discourage such post-war profiteering.
Better yet, we can think of a platoon of U.S. political and military leaders from 2003 who pushed for the war that gave birth to this vile exposition. They should show up at the Sheraton Premier Hotel at Tyson’s Corner, in Vienna, Va., Thursday morning, and insist it be shut down.