Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

American merceneries, at what cost?

with 22 comments

blackwater_mercenaries.jpg

It’s been revealed that the number of contractors hired in Iraq exceeds the number of US troops there now. That’s right, there’s over 180,000 people on the US payroll in Iraq, including over 100,000 Iraqis. This is bad for so many reasons I hardly know where to start.

However, let’s start with security, since ostensibly this whole mess was supposed to make the USA more secure. How do we know that some of the Iraqi contractors aren’t insurgent infiltrators? Even the tens of thousands of foreign contractors are suspect, since for the most part they come from countries with Muslim populations and no way to really check their backgrounds. These are the people we want building US bases and supplying US troops? I wonder how many are working on the new US Embassy? Anyone remember when the new American Embassy in Moscow had to be torn down and rebuilt from scratch because they used Russian workers in it’s construction? Turns out the Russians had installed so many eavesdropping devices in the walls that there was no hope of ever finding them all, they found one device that had a battery that would keep it functioning for over a century! And it hardly needs to be mentioned, but hidden eavesdropping devices are the least of our worries when it comes to hidden devices in Iraq.

Another problem is the hiring of armed American contractors, a new and unfortunate development in the USA. Yes, our army is now so small that we now hire tens of thousands of American mercenaries to fill out the ranks. I will probably blog exclusively on this topic at some point, we managed to make it through 200 years of history without hiring mercenaries, it’s not a good development for the Republic. In Iraq Bush is still being dodgy about just how many of these guys there are, but over 20,000 is a good guess.

The main problem with these guys is that they are armed and under nothing like military control. In fact they have been given immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law! That’s right, tens of thousands of Americans Rambos are running around with guns, with no fear of criminal prosecution, in a country where the local population is regarded as little more than terrorist towel heads. Think these guys are winning any hearts and minds? Anyone remember the video a few enterprising ones made a few years ago, where they drove around shooting people at random to the sound of heavy metal music? You can bet the Iraqis do.

Even worse, these guys are all ex-military and have now been hired back at a huge increase over their military salaries. That’s right, the USA spends piles amounts of money to train these guys, then they get to retire with pensions and get hired back at vastly increased salaries. There is a word for this. Corruption. And what really annoys me is that the military claims “…contractors cut costs while allowing troops to focus on fighting wars rather than on other tasks.” Let me get this straight, we are hiring private companies and people to perform tasks at a vastly higher salary than the military pays, plus huge corporate profits are being made in the bargain…and this is going to cut costs? There’s a word for this too. Lies. And I’ve just scraped the surface here too. The problems with quality control in the projects built under contract remain rather alarming.

What does it all mean? This shows at the very least that we don’t have enough troops in Iraq, we can’t have our cake and eat it too. We either need to conscript enough people for the army to do it’s job, or we need to cut back on what the army is being asked to do. What really frustrates me about stuff like this is that there’s no good way to understand it. Maybe this is just plain old corruption, and the administration is happy that it’s corporate sponsors are making a mint at public expense. Or maybe it’s just wishful thinking and poor organization, for all I know the administration is still clinging to the belief that things are “just about to get better” in Iraq and this is only a temporary stopgap measure.

Yeah, a stopgap measure that has lasted longer than World War Two. One last thing that concerns me. Do we want private American armies in the USA? The above picture of Blackwater Mercenaries was taken in New Orleans.

(The above partial image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, it is central to illustrating the post, and it is an historically important image. Credit and probable copyright holder: Alex Jones.)

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Written by unitedcats

July 5, 2007 at 8:54 am

Posted in Bush, Business, Iraq

22 Responses

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  1. Isn’t war profiteering illegal?

    whig

    July 5, 2007 at 11:46 am

  2. Not taking sides per se. As for Iraq.The mercs are “shooters” and “bullet stoppers” you don’t have to tally.
    The US armed forces specifically ground force combat arms elements have always been outnumbered by ancillary services. (medics,supply etc.)
    WWII was a lot more war than occupation. Mercenaries have existed throughout history. It isn’t war profiteering.White collar people in government routinely retire and return as big money consultants. lastly the New Orleans deployment is consistant with deputizing people. Seeing as NO lost their P.D. temporary use like this is better than straight out martial law.

    in2thefray

    July 5, 2007 at 12:56 pm

  3. Soldiers make very poor policemen, they are neither trained nor equipped for it. Private soldiers are going to be even worse, do these guys look like they want to “protect and serve?” From deputizing people to bringing in police from other states and counties, there were other ways to solve this problem. It’s a bad precedent and it makes me uncomfortable.

    War profiteering is not illegal per se, but at what point does it become excessive? I think we’re long past the point.

    unitedcats

    July 5, 2007 at 1:10 pm

  4. Not to go tit for tat especially since I agree to an extent.I don’t know the N.O. timeline. Sadly the ensuing chaos post Katrina needed heavy presence.Halliburton are profiteers.GWOT has sadly given us seasoned fighters. People who have skills unmarketable elsewhere but unfortunately with a market. I wish it weren’t so.
    And absolutely…a great post. Thanks for it and the further exchange.

    in2thefray

    July 5, 2007 at 1:22 pm

  5. Definitely an important topic and there are contractor bad actors just like there are in the uniformed military (e.g., Haditha). That said, there are quite a few misunderstandings of fact, starting with the fact that the photo is of N.O.P.D. SWAT officers and going downhill from there. You can start finding facts at http://www.psc-looking-glass.blogspot.com/2007/06/chapter-3-caucus-race-and-long-tale.html and keep looking from there. As in most things, the truth lies somewhere between what the radicals on both sides of the question say.

    remf

    July 5, 2007 at 5:03 pm

  6. Ah, well, now I know why I don’t like Alex Jone’s. Nonetheless some Blackwater security folks were used in New Orleans post Katrina, and the explosive growth of private military firms like Blackwater is well documented, they were founded in 1997. There’s no good reason for the government to be privatizing military functions, and reasons to be concerned about it. I agree absolutely, the truth is almost always somewhere between the extremes.

    unitedcats

    July 5, 2007 at 6:01 pm

  7. These Merc’s are just another example of Corporatism. Agreed it is not a good thing.

    The only way to fix this is for the coming democratic administration to enact the draft.. or will they do the same as now as their handlers want?
    My guess is that nothing will change no matter which ‘party’ is elected. Its just another way to fleece American taxpayers and pass money to their buddies. Sigh.

    ET

    July 6, 2007 at 9:53 am

  8. The draft is a non-starter. We don’t need a standing army. Regulate the militia.

    whig

    July 6, 2007 at 10:35 am

  9. Hiring merceneries is the only way to continue Iraq occupation. The other benefit is that US don’t have to report their casualties as military deaths which keep them hide the real number of US casualties in Iraq. Just read that 6 more soldiers died in Iraq and according to the commanders US strategy is successful demanding more time. The UK arrested Iraqi doctor in their London and Glasgow bombing attempt which is another proof that US invasion has made this world more dangerous place. The Iraqi civilians lives are destroyed, there are hundreds of thousands of orphans of this stupid bloody war and if anybody think that these orphans will be peace loving adults when they grow up is leaving in fools paradise. These kids will grow up with extreme hatred towards US and Americans when they grow up and Al Qaeda have hundreds of thousands more recruits in the future.

    I am so sick of all this stupidity of “freedom” and “democracy” BS that decided to keep my mouth shut and just watch.

    QB

    July 7, 2007 at 7:01 am

  10. mullah cimoc say iraki having the two gonad. just for this never to stop fighting.

    also, all iraki woman tell him husband: ‘omar, you needing for to kill three ameriki for be influence and position in new iraq”. in new irak only one kind vote them counting. this the body bag. no body bag credits equal no for vote in new irak.

    ameriki obedient slave of israeli masters. for this ameriki society so destroy. remember the vietnam. what am punishment for vietnam war. you remember: the lesbian, the homosexual, the woman power, the man degrade, the children cry, the grandparent not have in usa for so many baby him killing. now hillary clinton to boss each ameriki man.

    now aztec and maya take land for punish. ameriki to lose all him land and be destroy jut like the ancient time. before the fall, goeth the pride. this from bible. someday ameriki waking up and learn true. then israeli spy and neocon (same thing) he receive the true punish.

    mullah cimoc

    July 7, 2007 at 11:15 pm

  11. Anyone wantng to get a good look at thebehind-the-scenes of Blackwater should read. “Blackwater: The rise of the World’s most Powerful Mercenary Army” by Jeremy Scahill, published by Nation Books in 2007. VERY ENLIGHTENING reading. President Bush, Cheney and many other die-hard Republicans are up to their elbows with this company. The company has also hired Chileans, Poles and other non-U.S. soldiers on their payroll. The U.S. Govt. is financing some very bad people. “Blackwater” is supposedly named after the swamps its headquarters sits in. I suggest to you that it’s name should come from the poison this copany is spilling onto humanity!!!

    barfing blackwater

    September 22, 2007 at 12:09 am

  12. Sir, the privatizing of armed forces is imo the next logical step in American world-policing. President Eisenhower warned against corporate influence, and against leaving a drafted army in favor for a professional one. The speech was intended as a warning to the next generation of American voters and politicians, but now it appears almost Nostradamic.

    PMC’s are not employed to cut costs, this is nothing but a spin on the real rationale; private contractors are employed in Iraq to achieve the same strategic goals (economic hegemony) without having to face the political responsibility of waging a pseudo-colonialist occupation war.

    Most private contractors in Iraq have a close relation to the current administration. Blackwater is no exception, Mr. Prince interned with Bush 1 before he founded the company. So, yes, I agree with the accusation of corruption made by the original poster.

    Norseman

    September 22, 2007 at 5:50 am

  13. [...] Blackwater mercenaries:  Coming to an American neighborhood near you (pecunium at Majikthise, emphasis mine): The reports out of New Orleans, that Blackwater had been deputised to provide security, were worrisom. [...]

  14. Hi!

    naj

    October 5, 2007 at 7:55 pm

  15. [...] from either public scrutiny or legal sanctions. I know I called them American mercenaries in a previous post, but that’s not quite accurate. Mercenaries will fight for anyone, these guys are often [...]

  16. You people all need a good spoonful of reality. Perhaps 9/11 wasn’t enough reality; perhaps you will see the reality of the people of Darfur…rather unlikely though. There are people in this world that will kill you for no reason other than the thought passing through their mind. Blackwater operatives are not mercs; they are professional former soldiers who proved themselves in Special Operations units and distinguished themselves from regular soldiers. They have more discipline than regular soldiers who just graduated high school and just wanna go to the Middle East and “kill shit.” I am sure that Blackwater was fired on first…I am also sure that the insurgents used innocent civilians as a distraction as they have in just about every other battle drill they practice…they care not about the welfare of their fellow Iraqis; they simply want to kill.

    The spectre of terrorism is real and it needs to be addressed with unrelenting force. Force is the only thing that these people understand and respect, unfortunately. If the situation is not addressed in such manner, then I am sure I will be sending my son to school in the near future with the shared fear of the Israeli people, wondering if his bus will be blown apart, or his school held hostage as in Beslan, Russia. The worst mistake people make in life is adopting the idea that “It won’t happen to me.” You say it to yourself all the time—every time you pass a pileup on the Interstate; every time you see a funeral service for someone else; every time you watch the news and see the strife of other people. We make the mistake of thinking that we are safe from war and genocide; from mass murder and terrorist attacks.

    Someday, it will be you…or your family…because you sat and did nothing. Because you simply read Time and Newsweek and posted things on this website arguing about how horribly the current administration is handling things. I agree that things could improve…but I am doing something about it and will be in a position to change things in my lifetime by advancing my career in the United States Army…I am making a difference in the world I live in…what are you doing? Posting your bitches and gripes on a website full of like-minded individuals that will only fuel the fire. Get off your ass and do something about it if you don’t like the way things are going. None of you know the first thing about being part of something bigger than yourself, and none of you know anything about serving your country and your fellow citizens.

    silenthunder85

    October 22, 2007 at 10:36 pm

  17. It seems to me that silenthunder85 might be just the kind of person that would kill someone for no reason other than the thought passing through his mind. To him, whoever is killed deserves to be killed. What a dark place his mind must be. I am sincerely concerned for the mental health of people like this.

    whig

    October 23, 2007 at 12:10 pm

  18. Hmm, there’s people in Oakland a mile away who would kill me if I looked at them cross-eyed, if I’m not afraid of them, why would I be afraid of guys living in caves on the other side of the planet?

    Terrorism has always existed and always will. Basing foreign policy and colonialism on it is new though, and it’s a damn shame people fall for it. “Those people only understand force” is such a tired old excuse for war that I am surprised people still try to use it.

    And I served my country and am for national service, defending the right of myself and other Americans to espouse whatever they think, however I may disagree. —Doug

    unitedcats

    October 23, 2007 at 9:55 pm

  19. And you know that you have my respect, Doug, even when we might disagree.

    whig

    October 24, 2007 at 12:23 am

  20. I’m 21 and about to finish training as a US NAVY SEAL and then i’m[sic] going straight to BLACKWATER. After reading all of you p***y** b******* on here about how upset you are that people are dying in iraq[sic] i[sic] just wanted to let you know, They actually get s*** done, they actually dont[sic] stand around while some iraq[sic] b**** runs up to them strapped with C4 and kills them. The reason this war isn’t being faught[sic] like all the others is because of d*** a**** like you trying to get evey one in trouble FOR DOING THEIR GOD DAMN JOB. What do you think of our p**** cops in america?[sic] What can they do? Nothing!! i[sic] cant even tell you how many times i[sic] have just outran a cop when i[sic] was younger or f***** with them because what can they do? Nothing! they aren’t allowd[sic] to do anything. They are cursed by the very job they are trying to do. Blackwater doesn’t take s*** and in that same sense nothing gets in the way of their job. If we had an army of guys in blakwater[sic] that war would be over and alot[sic] of our soldiers would still have their lives because little school boys like you b****** on here wouldnt[sic] be whining every time we shot at the ENEMY…. are you starting to feel copletely[sic] stupid yet? So basically, stop taking your “stupid pills!” grow what god intended on you having, WE call them BALLS! An a nation with no balls got jack squat. Please write me back f*** heads. Thank you.

    Editors note: This comment has been edited for profanity and frankly shouldn’t be allowed because it violates the comment guidelines. And I don’t believe the author is a Navy Seal, they are both professional and educated.

    Zeph

    May 11, 2008 at 10:00 pm

  21. [...] According to this blogger, where I got the above photo of Blackwater operatives, the “contractors” exceed the number of troops in Iraq. That seems incredible to me, but then we have no way of knowing for sure. Obviously we won’t have any statistics on their deaths, and probably not the harm they inflict. If you remember the Fallujah incident from a few years back, war supporters slammed anybody who asked whether they might have done anything to provoke such a reaction from the mob who lynched them. It seemed like “blaming the victim,” but there haven’t been comparable actions against regular soldiers. [...]

  22. Ok I don’t know where to start on this, but you use the word “Conscript” when the correct term should be “Draft” which at any rate has been made illegal by the government after WWII. The sad part about this article is that it is now 2010 and we’re STILL over there..we should have been out of that country by now. If you look at it though, if we found Bin Laden, we’d have no purpose to be over there, and our government would loose it’s precious oil supply. I mean seriously, we could just napalm the mountains, our CIA and Department of Homeland Security KNOW where he is. It’s all just a big cover up by the government. As far as the mercs go, I say good for them for taking the economic opportunity because believe it or not, most lower ranked people have trouble surviving and supporting families on the military pay, not to mention the constant moving that the Merc companies don’t require.

    Crow

    July 4, 2010 at 6:29 am


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