I often think that I'm kind of out of the loop as far as American news and politics go. Mostly because I only get CNN International and online blog and newspaper sources here in Beirut. But then again, if I'm really honest with myself, I definitely watch more American television than I did in France and probably more than I ever did in the US. (I have cable here, something I haven't had in about ten years.)
In any case, I missed this story last month about the 21-year-old Miami kid cum arms dealer Efraim Divoli who was supplying hundreds of millions of dollars worth of shoddy ammunition to American allies in Afghanistan and Iraq through connections with former Eastern bloc countries and other arms dealers suspected of selling weapons to Africa. The reason I mention being out of touch with American media is that I hadn't heard about this. One would think that this would be a huge deal in the news and that people would be trying to figure out how this kid got all these defense contracts. And maybe it is a huge story, but I imagine that it's been overshadowed by election coverage.
To my mind, this story is typical of the way the US has handled its wars abroad during the Bush administration: with incompetence and probably corruption.
The Times article is too long and juicy to find a money graph, but you should read the whole thing in order to get the details about corrupt Albanian officials, a Cypriot shell company, a Swiss middleman, illegal RPGs in the Congo, Czech arms dealers and the young Divoli trying to get leniency in a Miami court hearing the accusations of abuse from his girlfriend by mentioning his role "the fight against terrorism in Iraq."
Move over Nicholas Cage, there's a new Lord of War in town, and he's being underwritten by US tax dollars.