February 20, 2008

The Blackwater Bomb: The Detrimental Effects of Private Military

By Kerriann Stout [POL 301D-Spring 2008]

The current White House administration has been widely utilizing private security companies. Currently many of the top officials in Iraq are protected, not by the United States military, but by Blackwater USA, a private security company. This is a result of a push towards military privatization by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney. While in office Cheney had plans to weaken the pentagon’s power, and outsource some of their jobs to the private sector. With the market ripe for the taking, Blackwater owner Erik Prince stepped up to the job. Paul Bremer’s, former director of reconstruction in Iraq, arrival in Iraq in 2003 gave Rumsfeld the perfect reason to utilize Blackwater in the war. Blackwater was given a contract for all of Bremer’s security.

The White House and Department of Defense are bending, twisting, and sometimes outwardly breaking laws in order to accommodate Blackwater, all with complete disregard for public opinion. Their inability, or rather lack of desire, to regulate Blackwater remains dangerous because the Blackwater Contractors remain without liability for their actions. Bremer protected them under order 17, of his 100 orders made while in Iraq, providing them immunity from persecution. Essentially there are thousands of armed contractors in Iraq without any responsibility for their actions, and the Bush Administration finds this to be perfectly legal. A September 2007 shooting by Blackwater contractors who opened unprovoked fire on Iraqi citizens is further proof of the detrimental affects this type of military brings with it. The Blackwater men are being paid double and triple what the United States military makes, and is being held accountable for nothing.

Furthermore Blackwater is being given no bid “sweetheart contracts”. Given the country’s current economic problems it seems highly suspect that the government is handing out billion dollar contracts without putting them out to bid. Bidding out the contract would be far more economically sound, but Prince’s donations to the Republican Party seem to prevent this from happening.

Iraq is not the only place private security has been used by the United States. Blackwater’s involvement in Hurricane Katrina is suspicious at best. Where was the National Guard and Military? Even if it was necessary for extra help in the beginning why didn’t Blackwater leave after local law enforcers were able to control the situation? And the most important question is where was FEMA? The people of New Orleans had suffered a massive natural disaster and lacked everything needed to sustain life. These people were hungry, hungry people need food, not guns. Especially not guns attached to mercenaries. The fact that Blackwater was deployed on American soil begs the question just how much power does Erik Prince have over the current administration?

Looking to the future, Blackwater is currently courting NATO and the UN to get contracts that would allow them to go into Darfur. This speaks directly to the ineffectiveness of UN peacekeeping troops. It is yet another example of sending a private security company somewhere it does not belong. The growth of such a powerful private army could be extremely dangerous, with their loyalties not being national, but to one person.

In order to fix these problems the United States needs to scale back on the use of private contractors and take a look at revamping the Military in order to meet its needs. The cost now may be high, but the risk of allowing private contractors to be responsible for American safety is higher. Prince has already been giving too much control and as long as Blackwater remains in bed with the Republican Party, this situation will only continue to get worse.

1 comment:

Demos said...

Any paramilitary machine is dangerous. Not only Blackwater has been feeding from the federal trough, but it operates its killing machine unchecked. Not good. Not good at all.

Oh, and it's not the kind of instrument the US should use to project its power & image to the world.