A friend wrote me an email tonight, raising some thoughtful and valid questions about the ethics of what I’m doing.
So to clarify: I’m not working for Halliburton, CACI, or any of the other monolithic contractors over there. Nor would I. The company I work for is relatively small, and their sole purpose in this is to provide medical services.
Am I conflicted by all of this? Of course I am. I’ve never made a secret of my opposition to the Iraqi War; quite the opposite, in fact. I spent the better part of the last decade denouncing the war in print and online. My position hasn’t changed; I think the war was a horrible mistake in almost every possible way: ethical, moral, logistical, and in terms of what it has actually accomplished. I think that it was architected by bad people for cynical reasons, and I think that any good which has come out of it was incidental to the actual purposes of the war.
However, my opposition somehow didn’t actually stop the war from happening. It has happened, is happening right now; and I find myself in a position to make things better, maybe, in a very tiny way. Maybe I can be part of a system which helps save a few lives.
That doesn’t mean that money isn’t a major motivation here. Sorry, but it’s true. In an economy that’s spiralling downward, the chance to make decent money would be hard to pass up under any circumstances. Making decent money doing something I find exciting and challenging and useful for the world is something I couldn’t pass up.
I get the feeling, even on short acquaintance, that the people I’m working with are sincere in their desire to use their skills to build technology that will benefit the people who have been victims of this war. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here. Money is good, but I still have to sleep at night, you know?
I’ve thought long and hard about this, and I think I’m making the right decision. Time will tell.