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JUST WONDERING… ABOUT BLACKWATER

The Justice Department says it faces all kinds of legal hurdles prosecuting the Blackwater Guards who shot up Baghdad, leaving 17 Iraqi citizens dead and 23 more wounded. It seems these mercenaries have immunity. So now I wonder if they enjoy the same immunity when the patrol the streets of American cities, like they were hired to do in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to the tune of 33.3 million between September and December of 2005, around $275,000 a day. I also wonder why they are allowed to actively recruit people from our military during wartime. The American government spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to train a lot of our soldiers, many of them highly advanced technical experts in many fields possessing sensitive knowledge you might not want to put at the disposal of an army-for-hire. What if somebody hires Blackwater to fight against the United States one of these days?

You can understand the temptation of our soldiers to join an outfit like that. The pay is fantastic and you need not sign on for four years at a time. The only drawback seems to be the lack of honor in the mercenary corporations. In the military, men and women display an extraordinary amount of honor and dedication and wear their uniforms with well-earned pride. Military personnel live by a stringent code of conduct and personal responsibility that has no place in the corporate world, especially a corporation whose business is killing. So many of of our military people who join these companies go from being well respected defenders of our nation to corporate gunslinging goons overnight, expected to share the knowledge and training America gave them with a corporation loyal only to the highest bidder. How does that make them feel? Just wondering…

Speaking of Blackwater Guards, I wonder how they came to be called contractors? Don't contractors build things or provide goods and services? I never met any contractors who carried any automatic weapons outside of a nail gun nor have I met any whose transportation of choice was a helicopter gun ship or an armored fighting vehicle. So aren't they mercenaries and shouldn't they be called that always? And even though Blackwater is nominally an American company, they hire soldiers from all over the world, recruiting from the Special Forces of every nation with an advanced technical military. So you wind up with Chilean commandoes trained ion the service of Auguste Pinochet, Indian army regulars, Germans, Britons, French, Africans, Russians, you-name-it. For up to $1000 a day these mercenaries give their loyalty to whoever is paying the bills.

And these are the people who have been hired to guard our diplomats and patrol the streets of foreign cities where American blood and lives have been spent to secure. Didn't the Marines always guard U.S. Embassies? Last I heard they're still a pretty formidable outfit whose loyalties are beyond question. Didn't the Army patrol always the territory they captured at dear cost? And if ever a Marine or a member of any other branch of our military commits a crime that individual is subject to the laws of the land and the strict code of military justice. Marines work for considerably less than a grand a day and answer only to their chain of command, their code of honor and their country, giving no consideration to corporate bottom lines or further money-making opportunities. And every United States soldier almost without exception would lay down their life for their mission, their comrades and their country without a conscious thought. Can the same be said of mercenaries?

So what happens when Dubai, or the Emirates, China or Singapore, those nations who have just invested scores of billions of dollars in our sagging financial houses, want to collect on that debt or maybe take complete control of America's banking system? Lacking an effective army of their own, can they hire Blackwater guards to enforce their wishes? Would Blackwater make war on America? They wouldn't be the first American corporation to do so, only the first one to do it by way of open warfare. Then what? After all, they changed their name from Blackwater USA to Blackwater Worldwide and advertise themselves as a private military company. Do we outbid their employers to get them to stop?

Prior to the phenomenon of the rise of Blackwater and many other similar corporations, the only "private armies" belonged to tribal warlords, drug cartels and James Bond villains. So how can the American government in good conscience hire these companies to perform important security and training tasks formerly in the safe hands of our own armed forces? Isn't that a slap in the face to our military people? And when they are above the laws of any land, don't they essentially outrank our own military? George Patton wouldn't have put up with that for a nanosecond. That can't be good for morale in the American Armed Forces. Is it any wonder so many of them take the money and run? And the Blackwaters of this world hire only the elite forces, extensively and expensively trained by various governments, so the strain on our military is even greater to replace these skilled men and women. Their experience under fire is the hardest commodity to replace.

And how long will it be before there is a private Navy corporation and a private Air Force company? Given the considerable resources of corporations, how long before some tin pot dictator of an oil-rich country is protected by a private military corporation with a private nuclear arsenal? None of these things are inconceivable. Nor is it inconceivable for one of these companies to take over a weak nation that falls behind on its payments to them or simply because they can. Who would stop them, especially if they possessed nuclear weapons? There are a lot of things these so-called security contractors do now that no one envisioned them doing a few years ago. They've come a long way from guarding rich people and providing hotel security. Too long a way if you ask me.

Already military contractors are engaged by the United States in the interrogation and torture of prisoners, often having command authority over military personnel in our military prisons. How did that happen? Now when American soldiers are captured they can expect similar treatment. Perhaps somewhere down the line it will be an American mercenary company doing the interrogation of captured American soldiers at the behest of his employer, our enemy. There are also private mercenaries under contract from the CIA to perform clandestine operations, that most sensitive and corruption-prone field of military operations. The sales of state secrets has been going on forever with people in the employ of their respective governments. Imagine espionage as a corporate product. There's no guarantee that international corporations will be loyal to any one country.

It's far more likely that international corporate entities will be loyal only to themselves, doing business with anyone willing to buy whatever the are selling. The track record of international corporations indicates just that. In the case of private military companies, what they are selling is a highly trained army made up of the elite former military personnel of the world's armies and answerable to no government. That's not a healthy development. And like any corporation they will seek to expand their markets and diversify their services. They've already branched out into interrogation by torture, so why not espionage for profit? These companies have a vested interest in continued warfare and will actively work against any peace treaty by any means necessary wherever there is money to be made by continuing a war. Haven't armaments manufacturers always done the same?

Look at the way a true soldier carries himself; proud, erect and ready to be of service, his weapon carefully pointed at the ground until needed, polite and reserved. Look at how a mercenary carries himself; weapon held in a threatening stance, an arrogant slouch and disdainful of civilians. It is the demeanor of a dictator's henchmen or the operatives of a police state like the Gestapo or The KGB, men who know they can get away with anything, who assume they are the law. In New Orleans Blackwater Guards emptied somebody's apartment to use for their headquarters, dumping that person's possessions off a balcony onto the street and made themselves at home Their deputized status and authorization to use lethal force did not include allow invasion. An American citizen's home was invaded and vandalized by insolent goons with automatic weapons and nobody arrested them or even mentioned the incident except in passing. Sounds like the shape of things to come unless we do something about it.

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