Business/Finance

Blackwater fades into the men in the Greystone suits…

erikprince.jpg

After the debacle of last September’s murder of Iraqi civilians, many Americans held out hope that Blackwater, former Navy Seal and right wing evangelical Erik Prince’s guns-for-hire to the Busheviks operation located in the Great Dismal Swamp of eastern North Carolina had been exposed and might be forced into decline and eventual disenfranchisement.

A new article in Mother Jones warns us not to be sanguine – or naive about such a happy possibility occurring. Like Phillip Morris, Blackwater has simply devised another name and plans to continue business – and, like Altria (not to be confused with nutria, although such plagues abound all around us, it seems), that business will be same as it ever was.

Blackwater has now set up a new front er, subsidiary, headquartered in the Barbados (that haven for businesses seeking to evade taxes because, after all, we wouldn’t want Blackwater to pay taxes on the money it gets from American taxpayers through sole source contracts with DOD, State, and OHS) called Greystone. This new company has taken over many of the operations that old Blackwater did – but in a more corporate, low profile manner:

One contractor we spoke to said he was present when Greystone managers arrived to claim their office space at Blackwater’s Baghdad headquarters. They were a different breed from the ‘yee-haw cowboys’ that filled Blackwater’s ranks, and their tattoos indicated backgrounds in elite military units like Marine Recon, the Navy seals, and the Green Berets. ‘They didn’t talk to the other Americans,’ he said, let alone foreigners. ‘They had different bodies, different mentalities, and used different language. They had a different professional attitude.’ – Mother Jones

Prince has taken his operation upscale – with more professional operatives executives working in a more close to the vest manner than Blackwater presented.

While all of Prince’s and Greystone’s machinations are too complex to recount here (I strongly recommend the MJ article to you), we should note two important elements of Blackwater’s Greystone’s new corporate strategy. The first is finding new revenue streams for his companies:

In his most ambitious moments, Prince has set out a vision in which his companies would act as for-profit peacekeepers, working with the United Nations and other international organizations in conflict areas around the world. Even Blackwater’s marketing materials are infused with the imagery of global humanitarianism; one of the company’s recent ads shows a tiny malnourished infant being spoon-fed and proclaims the company’s intention to ‘provide hope to those who still live in desperate times.’ – MJ

Yes, you read that correctly. Erik Prince has aspirations to privatize the military operations of the United Nations. He’s not content to be the private army security service of record for the US government – he wants to rule serve governments around the world.

The other important element in the move to Greystone is motivated by that most dear of concepts in the corporate world – cutting operating costs:

In addition to prospecting for international contracts, Greystone has become Prince’s primary recruiter of foreign military muscle. On its website, the company says its operators are drawn ‘from the best militaries throughout the world’ and represent ‘numerous nationalities.’ Its reliance on foreign recruits, it claims, is a matter of ‘cultural sensitivity’ and ‘awareness.’ What the PR materials don’t say is that Greystone, along with other security companies, likely outsources its work overseas for the same reason many other businesses do—it brings down costs and helps bypass bothersome regulations. ‘They’re going to pay these people a lot less, and they’re not going to respect the same type of employee and labor rights that U.S. nationals would require,’ says Erica Razook, an Amnesty International lawyer whose work focuses on private-security contractors. – MJ

Given that Prince sees an important role for Blackwater in the US in times of “national disaster” (as evinced by Blackwater’s role in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina), we may well see foreign mercenaries in our streets at some point in the future. If so, it may be that Americans will finally recall their ancestors’ response to Hessians brought in by the British in Revolutionary times – and respond appropriately.

Or maybe not – after all, we’re being trained to submit. So maybe Blackwater’s Greystone’s thugs security forces won’t have to pull out a tired old gag line like “We don’t need no stinking badges” for us.

Maybe we’ll just forget all that our country is and should stand for and become the mindless Gamma workers that all our current policies seemed aimed at making us.

Or maybe we’ll remember our Thomas Paine – and tell Erik Prince and his ilk get the hell out of our country’s business. And recommend to our neighbors across the world that they tell him the same.

10 replies »

  1. I believe it was Crassus who used to say, of other Romans of the Republic era, “Do not consider yourself wealthy until you can afford to raise, pay, train, and equip your own legion.”

    Look what good things that did for the Roman Republic.

    Thanks Jim. I never would have seen this without your calling it to our attention.

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  3. Why has no candidate stated categorically that:
    1. There will be NO no-bid contracts for government services on their watch.
    2. There WILL be a new 911 investigation.
    3. The rules that govern presidential papers will be restored to pre-2000 rules.
    4. The Patriot Act will be reviewed and actively debated in the U.S. congress, in open session.

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  5. georgeinPA, March 22, 2008 at 9:39 am :

    Because the corporate owned media would see to it that either their message would be twisted and spun or they would no longer be seen or heard. The media is controlled by too few in this country and they want to consolidate it even more. See http://www.freepress.net

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