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22 September 2007

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Ryan

This is not the first time folks have complained about Blackwater. A couple of years ago an assistant divisional commander for the 1st ID complained about the lack of oversite over them and said Blackwater caused them a lot of problems with the locals. They should be brought under the UCMJ. Better yet, I'd like to conscript them.

Montag

What is it Wellington supposedly said about the British soldier? "They may not frighten the French, but they certainly frighten me!" It isn't just the Iraqis who are afraid of Blackwater--like the Waffen SS they've developed a "reputation," even among the people who are supposed to be on their side.

Lesly

Iraqi officials have said in the wake of the Nisoor Square shooting that they will press for amendments to the 2004 directive.

And will those amendments allow Iraq to prosecute the alleged shooters retroactively? What about Aegis?

anna missed

Just curious, but seeing that the foreign mercenaries are not subject to either Iraqi law or the UCMJ - is the inverse also true? That an Iraqi citizen would face no criminal charges should they commit violence against a foreign mercenary.

eaken

babak, an excerpt from an article found on tompaine.com:

"In October, the military's first census of contractors totaled 100,000, not counting subcontractors. And in February 2007, the Associated Press reported 120,000 contractors (which would put Bush's "surge" closer to 50,000). Contractors, which some call mercenaries, provide support services essential to maintaining the U.S. military presence in Iraq. Ten times the number of contractors employed during the Persian Gulf War, these contract mercenaries now cook meals, interrogate prisoners, fix flat tires, repair vehicles, and provide guard duty.

Military personnel formerly filled these types of jobs until former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld instituted his "Total Force” plan, which relies on a smaller U.S. military force with "its active and reserve military components, its civil servants, and its contractors." Senator Jim Webb of Virginia called this a "rent-an-army."

eaken

babak, an excerpt from an article found on tompaine.com:

"In October, the military's first census of contractors totaled 100,000, not counting subcontractors. And in February 2007, the Associated Press reported 120,000 contractors (which would put Bush's "surge" closer to 50,000). Contractors, which some call mercenaries, provide support services essential to maintaining the U.S. military presence in Iraq. Ten times the number of contractors employed during the Persian Gulf War, these contract mercenaries now cook meals, interrogate prisoners, fix flat tires, repair vehicles, and provide guard duty.

Military personnel formerly filled these types of jobs until former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld instituted his "Total Force” plan, which relies on a smaller U.S. military force with "its active and reserve military components, its civil servants, and its contractors." Senator Jim Webb of Virginia called this a "rent-an-army."

Peter Principle

No one seems to have notices that in my previous post, the picture shows Blackwater in New Orleans.

Thus raising the question: Who runs the UNITED STATES, us or "them"?

anna missed

This has been going around today: Why not cut off funding to the mercenaries? Not exactly the same as our troops, is it?

Jim Schmidt

If Blackwater loses their operating license for Iraq, the Iranians might be well advised to contract this experienced, seasoned and professional paramilitary company to provide "personal" and "site" security services for the assets they hold near and dear.

This idea may be shocking because we currently view Blackwater as an American corporation.

But, Blackwater, as a international, commercial enterprise, is in business to make money for their owners; national allegiance is just an illusion. I'm sure Blackwater has a price and the Iranians might be wise to pay it.

Who needs a QUDS force when a highly trained, profit sharing, performance bonused workforce is just across the border and may soon be looking for work.


This leads to speculation that another unintended consequence of this war might be the growth of contracted, commercial paramilitary services on a large, perhaps, national level.

Such groups have existed in the past, for example, the Roman legions with allegiance only to their paymaster generals or the Samurai to their Shoguns. Privateers worked along similar lines.

Just think what corporate raiding and hostile takeovers might entail if this idea proves commercially viable and competition and consolidation heats up.

In the future, old warriors may still just fade away, but not before they exercise their stock options, lock in generous health plans and roll portions of their 401ks into tax exempt munies.

Perhaps this is just another sign that the nation state is a decaying anachronism.

Lee A. Arnold

Even if Blackwater had good cause, the Iraqi government's intent to widen the investigation to other incidents, suggests that the general issue has importance and permanence beyond sect or tribe. If the investigations are thwarted, or the results and recommendations are ignored by Washington, this episode will start a long-term focus, and become an anti-American symbol. On the other hand, if the government succeeds in bringing Blackwater to account, it will prove itself to be a force for reason, and attract supporters. History shows that for any people to put aside their differences and unite, they need a real cause: which is usually a common enemy. Can the presence of the mercenaries have the same effect? Can this episode turn-out to be the real beginning of the end for the U.S. in Iraq?

Michael Savoca

In part, the move towards private contractor "defense forces" as they frequently call themselves, is the result, again, in part, of the way we induct citizens into the armed forces. An all volunteer army in times of war is insufficient, and unjust.

I for one am ready to support a policy of 2 years of universal, mandatory military service for all US citizens between the age of 18 and 27 and a return to the draft. That would mean three of my wife's and my children would be subject to service.

This is the price of us keeping our democratic consitutional republic.

As a country we need to decide and soon because at some point in the future these private "armies" yes...you are right, they are not quite that but) these private armies may "refuse" to go away.

Colonels Lang's blog about Blackwater in New Orleans is an ominous omen.

Djuha

Were they really accompanying a US force in the field or were they on their own, babysitting a diplomat? Seems to me Blackwater lawyers will be working overtime to torture the meaning of that clause to avoid UCMJ.

These companies simply are not accountable, whether by statue or by simple unwillingness on the part of the US government.

Steve

Jim Schmidt:

Interesting point--

"Perhaps this is just another sign that the nation state is a decaying anachronism."

Throwing in Nafta, Cafta, New Orleans, and Iraq, you are probably right.

I've just ordered "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" by Naomi Klein, which sounds like an informative read on the topic.

W. Patrick Lang

All

Here is an article on mercenary presence in New Orleans after Katrina.

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20051010/scahill

pl

jonst

Peter Principle,

I suspect we are going to find out in Nov of 08 exactly who "owns" this nation. Because I have my doubts the Republic can survive another 8 years of this...to the extent it has survived so far.

Cold War Zoomie

Blackwater is operating under a universal law that applies when all others fail; the law of the jungle.

I predict we'll see another Fallujah in the coming weeks. If I were an Iraqi, I'd be planning my revenge right now.

Doran Williams

To be expected in the near future: Reprisals on a large, if not grand, scale against Blackwater In Iraq (BII). This will include ambushes set up to attract BII; sniper take-downs of BII hoods; and mortar attacks on BII barracks. It may even involve attacks on BII management in countries other than Iraq.

Does anyone see any possibility that Iraqis, determined to revenge their honor, will employ their own hit-men within the US against Blackwater management?

confusedponderer

I think it is a stupid idea to hire PMCs, or rather mercenaries. It is a cry of desperation when a state cannot handle such things with the tools at its disposal. It is an act of folly when a state doesn't want to.

The privatisation-mania of the free-enterprise cheerleaders applied on para-military services is corroding one of the columns on which public order rests. It is utter nonsense to claim, as 'industry spokespersons' do, that use of force is a service like repairing cars.

It has a political impact and thus should be under tight political control. USCMJ sounds about like the best solution possible with mercs around. Better would be not to have mercenaries at all, but that would probably force the US government to again subject some of their by now privately handled things to parliamentary oversight, horrors!

With the salaries mercenary companies pay the countries hiring such companies also deplete the pool of trained and experienced talent in their armed forces and further hurt themselves.

This is one point where the 4GW folks are correct. A state destroying his monopoly of force is acting self-destructive.

I found the dissolution of the local wardens of order in New Orleans scary. To need to send in mercenaries to create calm and order only underlines the impression of the failure of the state to protect it's citizens. A state cannot afford such an image without risking to lose legitimacy. That is so in Iraq, and it is so in the US. A state that cannot even guarantee the most basic thing - safety of its citizens and public order - what is it good for?

Maybe Grover Norquist smiles about this, or maybe he doesn't. Government "small enough to drown it in a bathtub"... Yay, let's start with first responders. The market will settle disasters like Katrina. And in todays globalised world there sure is a fabulous Russian, Chinese, Ugandan or Mexican mercenary company (you know, best bang for the buck) to restore order real quick, real tough. If I read the US attitude towards the UN for instance right, I am absolutely confident that especially conservative Americans will immediately understand the wisdom of such a market driven approach.

taters

Eric Prince, former SEAL, from Holland, MI and brother of Betsy Devos,(Her husband is Dick DeVos who ran unsuccessfully for gov. in Michigan former and is one of the largest contibutors to the GOP and heir to Amway) head of the Michigan GOP started Blackwater.
Aren't they also known as the armed wing of the current GOP?

J. Rega

Maliki's invocation of honor, something he can hardly back away from, gives the US a good opportunity to shore up his government's credibility by throwing Blackwater over and putting its gunmen on trial. I can't see any political reasons why the US would back Blackwater here. The right-wing scream machine is silent, too.
Handing over suspects and throwing Blackwater out costs the US nothing and gives some much needed authority to Maliki.

Don Schmeling

Colonel Lang,

The events with Black Water make me wonder, under what conditions would the USA expect to be able to keep any of their troops in Iraq for the long term? Black Water is just another example to the Iraqi people how the US treats then like dirt. You don't even send your own sons over to fight us, but send hired killers, who shoot us for sport.

The mercenaries must be universally hated, even more than the regular US troops. Al-Maliki wants them out but he doesn't run the country. To see the hired thugs removed from your country by ANY means necessary must be a universal Iraqi craving.

Kurdish Iraq may allow US troops on their soil for protection from Iraq proper, but will they allow the US Dogs of War to accompany them?

The enduring bases in Iraq, we hear less about them lately.

When the country with the worlds largest army needs to spend 5 years and more money than the rest of the world's military combined to keep a country under control, it is just not feasible in the long run.

In Vietnam, the US was fighting a real North Vietnam army, and not just guerrillas, but at least some of the country wanted the US to stay, and some of the country was safe for US troops.

In this war really no one in Iraq wants the US to stay, no part of the country is safe for US troops and the foes of the US have plentiful $ for unlimited time.

Sorry if these points are not original or that well put, but this mercenary thing seems so medieval to me I had to send in a post.

Don Schmeling

taters

Sorry about the wording upstream, hadn't had my caffeine fix at the time. nota mention fending off a cat who was two stepping on my keyboard.

David W

Is there any doubt that Don Rumsfeld will be judged by history as the worst SecDef ever? When he was appointed by Cheney/Bush, the 'buzz' was that he couldn't wait to rehab his damaged rep from the Nixon administration, and 'test his innovative theories.' Blackwater is just another nail in the coffin of his reputation, and a cancer on our military.

Meanwhile, Rumsfeld has entered the wingnut welfare program as a distinguished scholar at the Hoover Institute at Stanford. Apparently, this is the civilian equivalent of the Medal of Honor.

Henry Waxman, one of the Last Good Men in our govt. has started investigating the myriad charges of corruption within the contractor ranks. As he has also been on the trail of many other scams that will eventually lead to the higher ups (Jerry Lewis, we're looking at you), I hope that Mr. Waxman has a loyal set of bodyguards and an automatic car starter.

confusedponderer

Rega,
for me the fact that the US government depends on mercenaries implies that they has in the past simply axed those government entities that previously were to do these jobs mercs do today. That's why they depend on them, and that's why kicking Blackwater out would leave for instance the folks from the State Department in Iraq indeed without protection.

So yes, the US government may indeed today rely on mercs, but that's probably self-inflicted.

Clifford Kiracofe

Some folks may have missed the Christian Fundamentallist connection to Blackwater:

"Blackwater was co-founded by former Navy Seal Erik Prince, a "billionaire right-wing fundamentalist Christian from a powerful Michigan Republican family. ...

"Prince's father, Edgar Prince, and Gary Bauer started the Family Research Council, where Prince interned. Prince's sister, Betsy DeVos, is a former chair of the Michigan Republican Party."
http://www.capitolhillblue.com/cont/node/2249

On the De Vos family see:
http://www.seekgod.ca/cff.htm

An influential advisor on foreign policy to the Family Research Council/Bauer etc. is one Frank Gaffney (Neocon tribe of the flathead nation). Here is Frank's org in DC:
http://www.jinsa.org/home/home.html

VP Cheney was on Frank's all star board. They have done an efficient job penetrating the US military brass (oh yes indeed)...on top of their activity on Capitol Hill.

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