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Blackwater in the Quagmire: Does USA's Most Powerful Private Militia Fuel Iraq's Insurgency?

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But beyond that issue, it would seem that through its ongoing lethally-reckless behavior, Blackwater continues to pollute any pool of goodwill that ensue U.S. military efforts to win Iraqi hearts and minds, all but ensuring the improbabilty that the need for U.S. soldiers in Iraq can be abridged anytime soon. Additionally, among private for-profit militias like Blackwater, for which continued social and political instability clearly translates into a stable profit flow, having the added bonus of immunity from criminal liability is yet another corporate perk.

The impression that instability serves as the obvious lifeblood of Blackwater is evident not only in the steady growth it has enjoyed as a company since attaining its original no-bid assignment from the State Department to work in Baghdad and Al-Hillah. Use of force by Blackwater personnel, which, according to the State Department is “frequent and extensive,” could be seen as another indicator of this for-profit, private militia's relish for mayhem.

According to the Oversight Committee report, though legally bound to engage only in defensive use of force, “...in practice, the vast majority of Blackwater weapons discharges are preemptive, with Blackwater forces firing first ... prior to receiving any fire.”

It seems clear that as long as for-profit private militias like Blackwater are permitted to operate with such indiscriminate and deadly impunity with immunity from local prosecution, it seems assured that the continued presence of U.S. soldiers will remain vital to offset the wave after wave of new "enemy" spawned by blowback from Blackwater's lurid standard operating procedures, an operating procedure that, again, tends to produce a very profitable bottom line for Blackwater.

...undermining the troops’ efforts’

In the social services arena, there's a popular, if not utopian notion that in the best case scenario, social workers will do their jobs so well that they will succeed in ending poverty, illness and all forms of social malaise. The ironic endgame to that success is that the social workers would basically put themselves out of a job.

In essence, Blackwater's apparent business plan would seem to take this approach and, with a perverse and deadly twist, turn it on its head. But obviously, despite any characteristics of social engineering inherit to the work of "building a democracy," Blackwater is no social services agency.

That notion has been amplified by critics including P.W. Singer, of the Brookings Institution, who takes a dim view of affiliations between Blackwater-type private security contractors and the U.S. military. In an article posted on Salon.com. last month, Singer, noted that after close to a decade of studying such arrangements, the available data indicates: "...the use of private military contractors appears to have harmed, rather than helped counterinsurgency efforts of the U.S. mission in Iraq, going against our best doctrine and undermining critical efforts of our troops."

In other words, Blackwater and other for-profit private militias basically help sustain the insurgency.

Indeed, as noted by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, (D-Ill) in a recent Blackwater related article in the Washington Post: “It’s really affecting attitudes toward the United States when you have these cowboy guys out there. These guys represent the U.S. to (the Iraqis) and there are no rules of the game for them.”

That sentiment runs throughout the Oversight Committee memo which includes an assertion by a senior U.S. military official that the impact on Iraqi attitudes toward U.S. forces resulting from Blackwater's behavior "may be worse than Abu Ghraib."

Thus, to extrapolate to some degree, one could assume that for-profit private militias like Blackwater, whose revenues are generated largely through American tax dollars, have a vested interest in undermining any goodwill efforts of American forces in Iraq. Since it generates the bulk of its revenues through providing its services in dangerous or heavily militarized environments, by fomenting and maintaining -- whether knowingly or unknowingly -- a violent, anarchistic environment by way of its behavior in Iraq, Blackwater contributes to conditions which justify the need for its presence there. Indeed Rep. Waxman pointed out that, “For every taxpayer dollar spent on federal programs, over 40 cents now goes to private contractors.”

Thus, it’s fairly easy to envision an incentive to generate a steady stream of new insurgents by inciting "local nationals" -- the Blackwater term for Iraqi citizens -- into the insurgency through a cacophony of dehumanizing treatment and indiscriminate killings. It's worth noting that since 2005, according to State Department and Blackwater documents, in over 80 percent of the nearly 200 shooting incidents in Iraq involving Blackwater, the Blackwater personnel shot first.

Yet another disturbing report which raises questions about the role America's most powerful private militia plays in maintaining regional instability, is the charge, stemming from a federal investigation announced in September, that Blackwater has been engaging in arms smuggling. The charges allege that Prince's spirited crew of “loyal Americans” have been illegally smuggling into Iraq, weaponry to be funneled to the Kurdistan Workers Party, considered a terrorist group.

Longstanding issues between Iraq and the Kurds during Saddam's reign aside, it's difficult to comprehend how providing arms to factional movements can result in anything other than a continuation of the regional instability which is Blackwater's economic bread and butter.

Knowing this, it becomes exceedingly difficult to escape the dreadful conclusion that for U.S. forces, Blackwater has a sort of al Qaeda effect. Each moment our nation's most powerful for-profit, private militia spends in Iraq, extends further the period during which rank and file U.S. soldiers will remain in harm's way.

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Anthony Barnes, of Boston, Massachusetts, is a free-lance writer who leans toward the progressive end of the political spectrum. "When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to (more...)

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Consider this from the "Sonofabitch School of... by mrk * on Saturday, Oct 6, 2007 at 11:39:32 AM
Do you suppose that Fallujah might have been&... by JackN on Saturday, Oct 6, 2007 at 11:49:41 AM
Anthony,This is a great article!  Thanks for ... by Ginger Carter on Saturday, Oct 6, 2007 at 2:43:50 PM
An excellent and well crafted effort, Mr. Barnes. ... by ardee D. on Saturday, Oct 6, 2007 at 6:10:26 PM
 to withhold all funds for mercenaries from t... by Samuel Bryan on Sunday, Oct 7, 2007 at 12:43:30 PM