Blackwater and Empire

I’ve been thoroughly disgusted by the news about Bush’s reliance upon mercenaries like Blackwater. They get paid much more than American soldiers, are there only for the money, can leave when they want, have no accountability to US or Iraqi law, etc., etc., etc. I find the existence and use of mercenary outfits like this to be insulting to our soldiers, to American and international law, to morality, to the Iraqi people. I see no good reason for them at all, and they are just one more thing that has made me completely cynical about the Bush administration.

Alan Reinach posts similar thoughts at the Religious Liberty blog.

I was startled to hear the NPR report declare, as a matter of fact, what I had been reading in the book: that private security contractors answer neither to Iraqi law nor to American law. They are immune from prosecution. Congress apparently accepted the absurd logic of granting these contractors freedom from the military code of justice because they were being hired to protect State Department officials, and other high ranking American leaders. …

I see two basic problems. First, granting private security contractors complete immunity from prosecution undermines the rule of law, and cuts against every basic premise of democratic governance. It quite literally gives a license to kill. This is not an America that I recognize. Nor is the “exception” to the rule of law an insignificant one. There are reportedly at least 20,000 such private security contractors in Iraq, working for a number of companies, both American and foreign. This is huge! A corollary to this problem is that these contractors are not under the control of the American military chain of command. They are quite literally, cowboys, independent and under no control other than their corporate masters. The only rule the corporate masters live by is the rule of the Almighty dollar. So long as their minions do the job, and rake in the dough, it doesn’t matter how many Iraqis are killed or wounded. Its all about the bottom line.

Second, let’s call these contractors what they really are – mercenaries. The increased use of mercenaries to project American power is part and parcel of an undesirable shift from Republic to Empire. We have the largest military in the world, yet we increasingly rely on mercenaries because we cannot even recruit enough young men and women to serve voluntarily. But these aren’t just any mercenaries. We have unleashed thousands of trained professional killers, the most highly skilled human weapons of mass mayhem, unrestrained by any law. In the news report, Blackwater officials said they doubted they would be evicted from Iraq because they are too closely associated with the U.S. State Department. Understand this picture: these mercenaries are the projection of American Imperial power.

In prophecy, the United States repudiates her meek and mild character, and her republican principles, projecting power internationally like a dragon. Blackwater is neither the beginning or the end of such a character transformation. It is merely a piece of the puzzle, a step along the way. American patriots ought to have the courage, however, to call sin by its right name, and to demand that those serving American interests be governed by American law, and serve under the direction of our own military command. We ought to cherish a healthy skepticism about what is being done in our good name overseas, and how the American reputation and character are being tarnished.

3 thoughts on “Blackwater and Empire

  1. Okay, Reinach goes a bit far here: “They are quite literally, cowboys, independent and under no control other than their corporate masters.”

    What’s he got against cowboys?

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