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Saturday, March 8, 2008

The New Republic's "Mercenary Impulse" article

Blackwater Facts: New Republic Editor Sees Role for Blackwater

Michael Walzer of the New Republic, in an article titled "Mercenary Impulse", dispels some of the nonsense surrounding Blackwater and discusses possibilities for the private security contractor.

Though Walzer is critical of Blackwater in many ways, he makes several common sense observations. To those who argue that the North Carolina-based company is waging a private war, Mr. Walzer answers that "Blackwater's employees, of course, are not fighting a private war--Iraq is an American war." Against the charges that private security contractors are accountable to no one, the New Republic contributing editor points out that "a voluntary code of conduct has been accepted by many of the security companies operating in Iraq." Finally, Mr. Walzer is aware of the unrecognized cost being borne by Blackwater and other contractors: "The US government keeps no record of the security guards who have died or been wounded."

With regards to the literature surrounding Blackwater, Mr. Walzer has this to say:

Jeremy Scahill's Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army is informative but written as if readers already know the argument and so it is necessary only to present Blackwater's history in appropriately indignant tones. Then there is Gerald Schumacher's A Bloody Business: America's War Zone Contractors and the Occupation of Iraq, which defends the contractors but also considers in detail the criticism directed against them. (This happens shamefully often these days: political correctness on the left, intellectual engagement on the right.)

Mr. Walzer understands that private security contractors are sometimes able to perform jobs that others are not. He explains,

Speaking at a conference of arms merchants and war contractors in Amman, Jordan, in March 2006, Blackwater vice chairman J. Cofer Black offered to stop the killing in Darfur. "We've war-gamed this with professionals," he said. "We can do this." Back in the United States, another Blackwater official, Chris Taylor, reiterated the offer.

Since neither the United Nations nor NATO has any intention of deploying a military force that would actually be capable of stopping the Darfur genocide, should we send in mercenaries? Scahill quotes Max Boot, the leading neoconservative writer on military affairs, arguing forcefully that there is nothing else to do. Allowing private contractors to secure Darfur "is deemed unacceptable by the moral giants who run the United Nations," Boot writes. "They claim that it is objectionable to employ--sniff--mercenaries. More objectionable, it seems, than passing empty resolutions, sending ineffectual peace-keeping forces and letting genocide continue."

Some of us might prefer something like the International Brigade that fought in Spain over a force of Blackwater mercenaries. But the International Brigade was also a private militia... never under the control of the Spanish republic.... Whatever Blackwater's motives, I won't join the "moral giants" who would rather do nothing at all than send mercenaries to Darfur.


noah89 said...

Your argument is very thought provoking however, i disagree on your assumption and warrant of your argument that Blackwater do have limits on their power. For example Scott Horton from Harpers Magazine exclaims that,

“Private military contractors are not exactly civilians…they are not quite soldiers, either, in that they are not part of the service or in the chain of command”

Therefore if Blackwater are not military and they are not civilians, than who do they answer to for their wrong doings. The answer is no one. Thats why when Blackwater contractors are accused and charged with the of killing Iraqi civilians, They are sent home and dissmissed from their service. However when soldiers are charged promt action is taken agianst them. These reason all illustrate that blackwater do not have limits on their power.

Anonymous said...

Actually Blackwater is subject to various international treaties and The Uniform Code of military Justice. Federal charges can be brought against them as well as by the host country for any alleged criminal wrongdoing. Also the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act was enacted in 2000. This is designed to extend federal criminal jurisdiction over civilians accompanying U.S. forces overseas who commit serious offences. The law provides that Blackwater can be prosecuted. The reason that they're not for the case in question.....well?? will have to ask the State Department.


Sweetface24 said...

Actually I wasn't the one who wrote that article, it's from -it's a great website, you should check it out.

From what I know, the band of Blackwater contractors accused of killing 17 Iraqis are under investigation, but the FBI may have a hard time proving their guilt. But the fact that they are conducting a difficult investigation proves that Blackwater does have their limits!

Anonymous said...

Yes. You are exactly right. They are not immune. People believe what they want. There is an article on the net that states that Blackwater is a group of right wing, Christian fundamentalist war mongers with a chip on their shoulder. Of course GWB likes them because of this. Yeah! Right.... What a totally bogus story.