Monday, August 29, 2005

We live in the age of the corporate mercenary army

This weekend I had a conversation with a Republican friend of mine who seemed genuinely surprised that we have mercenaries in Iraq. Of course this is old news for most of us on the left, but it is also obvious (my friend says he gets most of his news form Sean Hannity) that the right isn't apt to report this sort of stuff. It got a brief play in the media after four Blackwater USA 'security contractors' (the preferred term they use) were murdered and their bodies burnt after their convoy was ambushed in Fallujah on March 31, 2004, but then was pretty much dropped by most of the national media. In fact, this had been reported first by Bill Berkowitz almost a month before the Fallujah incident. He focused on their recruiting efforts in Chile and South Africa-- two former dictatorships with armies who specialized in counterinsurgency ops but who now were out of a job. But the four contractors killed in Fallujah were Americans, as have been the majority of the security contractors killed in Iraq (you have to scroll all the way to the right edge of the screen to see job description and employer).

I actually knew about it from a somewhat personal source well before that, although not the full extent of it. Two friends of mine who served with local law enforcement agencies here in Northeastern Arizona before the Iraq war told me about an ad that they had seen circulated among police officers advertising for law enforcement professionals (with prior military experience a plus) who would be willing to work in regions of global conflict to provide security for up to $110,000 (according to the ad-- like most pre-war claims, it was a lie-- most 'security contractors' earn about $40,000-$60,000 in fact).

What has changed is that mercenaries today are no longer 'independent contractors' as they traditionally have been. Because they are now managed and formed into commando units by companies like Blackwater (as well as DynCorp and a few others), it is only necessary to contract with the company. Because rules of engagement for paramilitary forces are not well defined, our government has found them useful in missions that the traditional army might not be able to undertake for political reasons, for example, operations that carry a high risk of civilian casualties, military operations within the borders of the United States or against U.S. citizens, or operations in which it is foreseen that some of the traditional rules of engagement might not apply. If the mercenaries break some of the rules, there is either the benefit of deniability, or the ability to fire the 'security contractors' without admitting guilt.


Anonymous said...

Of course they don't report on these guys. The whole purpose of blackwater is to do stuff that isn't on the record and nobody (at least nobody over here) ever knows about.

Anonymous said...

Eli.. You misread what I said. I had known about professional soldiers in Iraq from G Gordon Liddy and other media. And, I never said that I get most of my news from Sean Hannity. I do listen to Hannity but I also listen to Randy Rhodes (?spelling?), which is what I remarked about. What I said was that Randy Rhodes had said on her radio show that the US was paying "mercenaries" to kill children.. What she said was that the US was paying "murderers" to kill civilians and to pressure civilians by murdering their children... Don't you think that CNN would be reporting these type of things if they were true?... My comments were misread by you my good buddy by making the all to common liberal mistake. You assumed I am a know nothing who doesn't read the paper or develop intelligent opinions. Most Liberals cannot understand that a thinking person can independently come to different conclusions than them. In others words Liberals think they are smarter than Conservatives.. Now don't deny it Eli.. you know its true. Ha Ha.. Mark

Eli Blake said...


Now you know that I don't think you are a no-nothing, don't you? You did seem surprised about the mercenaries, but maybe you are correct that I misread your reaction. I didn't hear that particular episode of Randi Rhodes but all you had told me about it was that she said that the US was paying mercenaries to kill children, what you are saying here is that she portrayed it as a matter of policy (as opposed to children getting killed in crossfire, which is what I had assumed). If that is true, it is despicable. If it is false, then she should retract it on air.

Anonymous said...

Ok Eli... Are you still gonna help me move?? Ha. Mark

Eli Blake said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dorsano said...

Most Liberals cannot understand that a thinking person can independently come to different conclusions than them. In others words Liberals think they are smarter than Conservatives.

Most conservatives can't frame a logicial argument. They "reason" from the specific to the general :)