Sunday, January 3, 2010

Blackwater Threatens the Foundation of the US

The dismissal, on a technicality, of charges against five Blackwater mercenaries indicted for the Nisour Square Massacre is yet another reason why the United States is seen as a brutish vicious Empire. Apparently the five effectively confessed to State Department representatives under the aegis of immunity, and when prosecutors used those testimonies the judge ruled it illegal and sunk the case. A sixth Blackwater defendant had already pleaded guilty to manslaughter, and was going to testify for the prosecution.

(“Judge Drops Charges From Blackwater Deaths in Iraq,” New York Times, 12/31/09)

The Nisour Square Massacre is sometimes referred to as Baghdad’s Bloody Sunday. Seventeen innocent civilians were gunned down, including a mother who was a doctor and her son, who was in medical school:

“Later, as I walked toward Nisour Square I noticed that each and every tree and electricity pole, and even the pavement, was riddled with bullets. At the square the first thing I saw was a charred white Kia that had been carrying Dr. Mahasin Muhsin Kadhum, 46, and her 20-year-old son, Ahmed Haythem Al-Rubaei, a medical student. He was giving her a ride home from the hospital where she worked. Smoke was still coming from the car, which had been hit by at least 30 shots. According to police officers at the site, the Blackwater guards opened fire on that car, then hit it with a grenade from a grenade launcher, which set it on fire while the two were inside it.”

(“Happy New Year, For Blackwater,” New York Times, 1/1/10)

Eyewitness accounts say that Blackwater mercs fired indiscriminately and massively. Helicopters over the turreted trucks took part in the wanton slaughter. Blackwater is not part of the US Military but rather a budding behemoth that thrived under the Bush Administration’s policy of privatization. It operates with immunity from Iraqi law and apparently US Law too, given the ruling by Federal Judge Ricardo M. Urbina absolving the five guards.

According to Common Dreams, Blackwater is an immoral monster that flouts the law and gathers special privileges from close ties to the US Government:

“On September 16, 2007, Blackwater guards shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square, Baghdad. Almost a year later, no one has been charged or prosecuted for the murders. Blackwater, a private army and mercenary headquartered in Moyock, NC with over $1 billion in federal contracts (primarily no-bid) since 2001, operates with impunity, not subject to either military or civilian law. Blackwater is associated with tax evasion, gun running, weapons stockpiling, recruiting death squad paramilitary personnel from Latin America and defrauding US taxpayers. Blackwater operates without oversight, transparency or accountability.”

Most recently, alarm has been sounded about the nepotistic links between Blackwater and the CIA:

“The secret missions illuminate a far deeper relationship between the spy agency and the private security company than government officials had acknowledged. Blackwater’s partnership with the C.I.A. has been enormously profitable for the North Carolina-based company, and became even closer after several top agency officials joined Blackwater.”

“Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret CIA Raids,” 12/10/09)

In a crucible of outrage and concern, an NGO has emerged to monitor Blackwater (which now calls itself Xe):

Long ago, Machiavelli warned against the use of mercenaries or “auxiliaries.” Their allegiance was not to the State that purchased their services, but to the captain of their own outfit, who pays their salary and commands their fraternity. This readily leads to all kinds of wrongdoing and treachery:

"Of all kinds of troops, auxiliaries are the most dangerous; for the prince or republic that calls them to their assistance has no control or authority whatever over them, as that remains entirely with him who sends them ... Such troops, when victorious, generally plunder as well him to whose assistance they were sent as the enemy against whom they have been employed; and this they do either from the perfidy of the [leader] who sends them, or from their own ambition ... A prince or republic, then, should adopt any other course rather than bring auxiliaries .... for any treaty or convention with the enemy, however hard the conditions, will be less hard to bear than the danger from the auxiliaries."

(The Discourses, Ch.XX)

Machiavelli does make a distinction between mercenaries and auxiliaries, both of which he considered Pyrrhic allies. The Blackwater guards fall into the latter category because: (i) the US government, as evidenced by Judge Urbina’s decision, “has no control or authority over them,” (ii) the Blackwater corporation is the equivalent of a separate state, given its vast income and power, and hence the monarchic status of its CEO, (iii) Blackwater and its individual members manifest the “danger” and “plunder” mentioned by Machiavelli and illustrated by Common Dreams.

In other words, if the US Government doesn’t wake up and stop using corporate mercs, the result could be an auxiliary army that threatens, if not the foundation of the United States, then any remaining claim it has to bear the torch of a higher purpose.

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