American Culture

Blackwater falls on black days…

It’s been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone, as the man says….

blackwaterbaghdad.jpg It hasn’t been nearly so placid in Moyock, NC, home of Blackwater, USA, unregulated killers for hire primary security services contractor for the US State Department. In the tumultuous month since they opened fire without provocation on civilians in Baghdad, killing 17, the company has seen itself investigated by the House, sued by its victims, and now, to add insult to poor Blackwater’s injury (they’re used to causing injury, not receiving it, after all), the State Department is considering phasing out Blackwater’s security services in Iraq.

What this means is that Blackwater could lose millions and millions and millions of dollars in contracts – contracts that were awarded either in no-bid circumstances or in such secrecy that one has to suspect Bushevik back room dealings. Blackwater has run wild in Iraq, it has acted with reckless impunity in case after case – even toward its own employees – and it has made itself incredibly wealthy at taxpayer expense.

This could be bad for Blackwater and the company seems to be expecting the worst:

Officials in the tight-knit world of security operatives in Baghdad said Blackwater was preparing a reorganization and possible downsizing. – AP

However, even as Condi Rice’s review panel pursues its investigation, there is already speculation that Blackwater will get off the hook with a wrist slap or two – or with having its thugs security personnel sanctioned by our “government”:

…Rice is eager for changes and has already accepted and implemented initial steps Kennedy urged in a preliminary report last week. They included improving government oversight of Blackwater by having federal agents accompany convoys and installing video cameras in their vehicles…. another alternative might be joint State-Defense department patrols. Yet another would be hiring Blackwater and other private guards as temporary U.S. government employees, the officials said. – AP (italics mine)

Given what we know about the behavior of some of our government employees and officials working in this amorphous mess we call the “war on terror,” unfortunately, the Blackwater guards might feel right at home….

20 replies »

  1. Its a tragedy when innocents get caught in the crossfire, it is however a fact of war. Especially when you can’t tell the good guys from the bad.

    Lets see how many High Profile Ambassadors and Politicians want to visit hostile areas when they find out their security detail is a platoon of National Guard supply clerks.

    I leave you with these words of wisdom from
    General Douglas MacArthur

  2. While it’s nice to see Blackwater finally cast into the light, one can’t help but suspect the “reorganization” will include a name change, followed by business as usual.

    Please let me be wrong.

  3. I think what really happened is the traitor Socialist(D) in our Government will do anything to make sure we do not win and go out of their way to make Pres. Bush look bad.

    Its us or them people… when will you get that?
    We could pull every troop out of every area in the world and it will only embolden the jihadist and invite our demise…

  4. trm1:

    1) We shouldn’t have entered the Iraq War to start with. Last I heard, Osama’s in Afghanistan. But, oh, that’s right. Afghanistan doesn’t have oil. It does, however, have poppies from which opium is made and which we do nothing to stop being grown and sold and which fund terrorist training, etc. What happened to our war on drugs? I don’t remember hearing we won.

    2) If there are any traitors, they’re the ones who are using the US government as a cover for their war profiteering and attempts to corner world energy supplies for their companies and claiming they’re acting to “protect” us by spying on American citizens, committing acts of torture, and trying to stifle the loyal opposition with ad hominem attacks, and biased language like name calling and bifurcation.

    3) Maybe the fear among this administration’s officials is that those National Guard troops will frag ambassadors and politicians (who are complicit in their “stop-loss” tours and “surge” suicide missions) the way troops did officers in Vietnam. Maybe if our government tried paying its troops the kinds of salaries Blackwater guards get, we’d have plenty of troops to conduct security operations….But then of course their war profiteering margins would get smaller and they couldn’t hide their kickbacks – as they do the kickbacks they get from contractors.

  5. There are two basic problems, and they’re related. The first is that this is an asymmetrical war. The second is that the US military is not structured to fight an asymmetical war.

    Countries practice asymmetrical warfare when they are incapable of winning by going toe to toe in symmetrical warfare. George Washington practiced this when he adopted a Fabian strategy to take on the much better trained British regulars. The Argentines practiced it when they used Exocet missiles against the British Navy. It could be seen in Spain when partisans harried Napoleon’s troops in an action that gave us the word “guerilla,” which means “little war.”

    Our military was structured to practice symmetrical warfare. Specifically, it was designed to destroy a symmetrical enemy’s ability to resist (not his will) by taking out the means of resistance, ideally quickly. That is why we have a small, technologically superior army and depend on technological superiority in the air and at sea to control those two dimensions of the modern battlefield.

    Basically, we don’t have enough boots on the ground to control great swaths of territory. The military is not structured that way. Militaries that are structured that way are extraordinarily expensive both in real fiscal terms and in the opportunity cost of lost labor force.

    The result is that we stumble around enormous tracts of land playing Wack-A-Mole with people who have no intention of walking out in the open and pitting their RPG against Abrams A-2s. They’re really not that stupid, and they play to win. We might as well be trying to swat flies with a 155 mm. howitzer.

    We will not win the war in Iraq because we are not structured to win it, but there is so much invested in the current structure that we are unlikely to change it. It has its uses, of course. The US military can quickly destroy most other militaries in the world. A few others would take a bit longer. What the US military is not structured to do is handle insurgents.

    Blackwater is an offshoot of this problem. If there aren’t enough boots on the ground, you hire mercenaries. But don’t be surprised when those mercenaries start killing indiscriminately. Historically, that’s what mercenaries have been very, very good at doing.

  6. Weep not for Blackwater (if only because it’s got the same name as a song by one of the worst bands ever, the Doobie Brothers). If the US continues its predatory foreign policy — and her Hillary-ness seems poised to — blowback will eventually reach our shores big-time.

    Corporations and rich private citizens will have that much more need of security. Enter Blackwater.

    Read John Robb on this: his blog — Global Guerillas — and his new book, “Brave New War.”

    To JS O’Brien: Brilliant summation.

  7. To Mr. Jim Booth,
    Then what do you propose we do? Pull out completely? Then what? Do you think the terror will just go away?

  8. Well put JS O’Brien, but you forget one very important factor regarding Blackwaters role in theater. They were strictly protection, for VIP’s and convoys. Offense was never their mission.

  9. I love people like trm1. They either assume that events have no causes, or they completely fail to understand those causes, or they assume that there’s one and ONLY one cause.

    If I could wish something for you, friend, it would be that for the rest of your life you could live in precisely the kind of world you think you want to live in. No Hell ever imagined by simple-minded mankind could touch that for pure entertainment value, I suspect….

  10. Guerrilla warfare is rarely beaten using conventional tactics designed to work against a conventional opposing force. That is what we are trying to do in Iraq and, to a lesser degree, was what we were trying to do in Vietnam. Militarily, it’s stupid. The stupid strategies of both Vietnam and Iraq are political in nature, which is why professional soldiers can only do what they’re told and not what they should do.

    Guerrilla movements have been beaten when there are enough superior, opposing troops to literally take over the countryside, including every crossroads and streetcorner. That, coupled with oppressive surveillance and search and seizure techniques, and the use of mass murder, relocation, and concentration camps, has sometimes worked. Generally, it doesn’t work forever, since this sort of occupation is horribly expensive and morally repugnant. As I said, above, the US armed forces aren’t structured to take this approach, and the world will no longer tolerate SS-style tactics (or British Boer War tactics, for that matter).

    The US has been trying to use a modified British Empire model in Iraq. Make a government beholden to you to maintain its power, then let that government take control of the countryside, using its internal intelligence resources, that are capable of penetrating guerrilla organizations, to find and kill their enemies. It worked in 19th century India, but it won’t work in Iraq.

    India under the Raj was a “nation” split into various small kingdoms. Opposition was generally familial and political. The Brits were too smart to try to mesh the tribes of the Punjab with the people of Bangalore. Iraq is a hodgepodge of religious, ethnic, and tribal peoples who hate and fear each other. As long as the Brits supported one family member on the throne, that family member had every reason to expect to rule for a long, long time. But any ruler in Iraq will have to fight entire groups of people, not just a few family members with claims on the throne.

    The US does not find it morally acceptable to put a dictatorship into place like the Brits did in India. But representative government in Iraq won’t work. Consider this. Representative government in the US would not be possible if, say, the Democrats feared that a Republican takeover would mean the deaths of their families. They would fight before they let that happen. This is what’s going on in Iraq, and why representative government will not work there for many decades to come, at best. If Iraq is to remain one country, it will need strongman to rule it. This will happen only if the US leaves, and I believe that it is bound to happen when the US leaves, unless the country simply splinters as the Balkans did when Tito died.

    Invading Iraq was stupid almost beyond belief. But now it’s broken, and the question must be, “What is the best way to proceed from here?”

    There is no good answer to this question. There is no answer that will be pretty. Eventually, sheer economics will force the US to leave, whether it wants to or not. At that point, the current government will collapse and, after numerous internecine atrocities, a strongman (probably a Shi’ite) will emerge and perpetrate more atrocities. Turkey will probably seize the opportunity to turn northern Iraq into a protectorate and, doubtless, will treat the Kurds very badly.

    In the end, however, there will be a ruler with whom the US can deal, and then we will need to do what many successful counterinsurgent efforts have done: provide adequate incentives for the new ruler to successfully infiltrate, betray, and destroy guerrilla cells. I believe that is the only successful model for dealing with ongoing guerrilla activity around the world.