The Blackwater Fiasco
By Robert Scheer
09/19/07 "Truthdig" -- -- Please, please, I tell myself, leave
Orwell out of it. Find some other, fresher way to explain why
"Operation Iraqi Freedom" is dependent upon killer mercenaries.
Or why the "democratically elected government" of "liberated"
Iraq does not explicitly have the legal power to expel Blackwater USA from its land or hold any of the 50,000 private
contractor troops that the U.S. government has brought to Iraq
accountable for their deadly actions.
Were there even the faintest trace of Iraqi independence rising
from the ashes of this failed American imperialist venture,
Blackwater would have to fold its tents and go, if only in the
interest of keeping up appearances. After all, the Iraqi
Interior Ministry claimed that the Blackwater thugs guarding a
U.S. State Department convoy through the streets of Baghdad
fired "randomly at citizens" in a crowded square on Sunday,
killing 11 people and wounding 13 others. So the Iraqi
government has ordered Blackwater to leave the country after
what a government spokesman called a "flagrant assault ... on
But who told those Iraqi officials that they have the power to
control anything regarding the 182,000 privately contracted
personnel working for the U.S. in Iraq? Don't they know about
Order 17, which former American proconsul Paul Bremer put in
place to grant contractors, including his own Blackwater
bodyguards, immunity from Iraqi prosecution? Nothing has changed
since the supposed transfer of power from the Coalition
Provisional Authority, which Bremer once headed, to the Iraqi
government holed up in the Green Zone and guarded by Blackwater
and other "private" soldiers.
They are "private" in the same fictional sense that our
uniformed military is a "volunteer" force, since both are lured
by the dollars offered by the same paymaster, the U.S.
government. Contractors earn substantially more, despite $20,000
to $150,000 signing bonuses and an all-time-high average annual
cost of $100,000 per person for the uniformed military. All of
this was designed by the neocon hawks in the Pentagon to pursue
their dreams of empire while avoiding a conscripted army, which
would have millions howling in the street by now in protest.
Instead, we have checkbook imperialism. The U.S. government
purchases whatever army it needs, which has led to the
dependence upon private contract firms like Blackwater USA, with
its $300-million-plus contract to protect U.S. State Department
personnel in Iraq. That is why the latest Blackwater incident,
which Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki branded a "crime," is so
difficult to deal with. Iraqis are clearly demanding to rid
their country of Blackwater and other contractors, and on
Tuesday the Iraqi government said it would be scrutinizing the
status of all private security firms working in the country.
But the White House hopes the outrage will once again blow over.
As the Associated Press reported on Monday: "The U.S. clearly
hoped the Iraqis would be satisfied with an investigation, a
finding of responsibility and compensation to the victim's
families -- and not insist on expelling a company that the
Americans cannot operate here without." Or, as Ambassador Ryan
Crocker testified to the U.S. Senate last week: "There is simply
no way at all that the State Department Bureau of Diplomatic
Security could ever have enough full-time personnel to staff the
security function in Iraq. There is no alternative except
Consider the irony of that last statement -- that the U.S.
experiment in building democracy in Iraq is dependent upon the
same garrisons of foreign mercenaries that drove the founders of
our own country to launch the American Revolution. As George
Washington warned in his farewell address, once the American
government enters into these "foreign entanglements," we lose
the Republic, because public accountability is sacrificed to the
necessities of war for empire.
Despite the fact that Blackwater USA gets almost all of its
revenue from the U.S. government -- much of it in no-bid
contracts aided, no doubt, by the lavish contributions to the
Republican Party made by company founder Erik Prince and his
billionaire parents -- its operations remain largely beyond
public scrutiny. Blackwater and others in this international
security racket operate as independent states of their own,
subject neither to the rules of Iraq nor the ones that the U.S.
government applies to its own uniformed forces. "We are not
simply a 'private security company,' " Blackwater boasts on its
corporate website. "We are a professional military, law
enforcement, security, peacekeeping, and stability operations
firm ... We have become the most responsive, cost-effective
means of affecting the strategic balance in support of security
and peace, and freedom and democracy everywhere."
Yeah, so who elected you guys to run the world?
Robert Scheer is the co-author of The Five Biggest Lies Bush
Told Us About Iraq. See more of Robert Scheer at
on "comments" below to
read or post comments
Be succinct, constructive and
relevant to the story.
encourage engaging, diverse and
meaningful commentary. Do not
include personal information such
as names, addresses, phone
numbers and emails. Comments
falling outside our guidelines
those including personal
attacks and profanity are
See our complete
this link to notify us if you
have concerns about a comment.
Well promptly review and
remove any inappropriate
Send Page To a Friend
with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material
is distributed without profit to those who have
expressed a prior interest in receiving the
included information for research and educational
purposes. Information Clearing House has no
affiliation whatsoever with the originator of
this article nor is Information ClearingHouse
endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)