AN ETHICAL DILEMMA |
September 08, 2008
AN ETHICAL DILEMMA
Posting date: 9/8/08
Stationed in: Iraq
Milblog: Rocinante's Burdens
Everyone agrees that you should always do the right thing. My dilemma springs from the right thing looking a lot like the wrong thing, depending on who you ask.
Here is the story:
I have a small sum of money, collected by force from US taxpayers, given to me for the expressed purpose of spending it on the Iraqi Army in order to improve their performance in some essential way. As General Petraus says, "Money is bullets in Counter-insurgency."
No problem. I am all over that. There are lots of things I can spend this money on to make my IA unit more effective. They need everything.
Here is the problem. Some of the things they need are on a list of things I am not allowed to buy. Bureaucrats and financial auditors don't want us to buy some things because it will look like fraud, waste and abuse -- something we all agree is bad.
But some of the things on the "do not buy" list are mission essential.
My units needs some digital cameras. Cheap effective ones. I have more than enough money in the budget to buy them, but they are on the no-no list. If my unit gets them, they would use them when they arrest bad people and take pictures of the evidence and the criminals so that the judge will convict the bad guys and punish them. No cameras = insufficient evidence = bad people back on the streets = insurgency goes on longer = US Army stays in Iraq longer.
The mission is pretty clear that these are not luxury items but directly lead to mission accomplishment. And they are cheap. And they are common enough in 21st century Iraq that they are not a huge temptation for thieves.
I am tempted to buy the darned things anyway. I will have to fabricate a receipt showing the purchase of something that is not on the no-no list. That will make me guilty of fraud. I will also need the cooperation of a few others, making them guilty of conspiracy.
A heck of a thing that I have to risk jail while already risking life and limb over little stuff like this.
I probably won't let you know what I decide. It's best that way.
You will be happy to know that I did not let the IA commander have a 50â plasma TV set with your money, like he wanted.
I am sure I am not the only one facing this dilemma. I am also sure I have not created a unique solution. I am sure others in my position have purchased lots of things on the no-no list and gotten away with it scot-free (is that a racially insensitive term?). Some of their motives were not as pure as mine. Yet I have a cloud of justice hanging above my head that ensures I will get caught and I will be the one they make an example of.
UPDATE: I have elected to not commit fraud. Instead I will use this as an opportunity to teach them about priorities and choices. They hate that.
UPDATE 2: Since he can't have the cameras, the Iraqi commander now wants a Shrubbery.
(Must...control...laughing....) My answer to him was NEH!