Monday, October 1, 2007

International "Non Violence Day and Blackwater's War for Profit in Iraq

Having learned by reading PA online that tomorrow, the anniversary of the birth of Mohandas K. Gandhi has been declared by the U.S. to be International Non Violence Day, I read accounts of the congressional report concerning the Blackwater "security" company and Iraq, which probably would not have been done had the Republicans stilled controlled the House.

With all the horrors that take place to the Iraqi people on a daily basis, this is yet another example of the savagery and the lunacy the Bush administration and 21st century U.S. capitalism occupying a country with both the regular public sector army, the public sector National Guard, and private sector for profit security firms, for whom profit rather than any political or military objective is always the first priority.

The report states that the Blackwater company used armed guards who often shot first and asked questions later, didn't even care about whom they killed, and were sometimes drunk when they were doing these things, acts which would get them court-martialed and imprisoned if they were in public sector military forces. Instead, Blackwater got cover ups and protection for its activities from the Bush State Department.

The report goes on to state that Blackwater guards have been involved in 200 shooting incidents since 2005 alone, mostly drivebys from vehicles, in which they didn't state to take note of the casualties (while their are real terrorists who are murdering innocent civilians on a daily basis in Iraq, these are the actions that one would associate with urban gangster in the United States, not regular military forces, even trained commandos).

"Privatization," besides failing to win the hearts and minds of the people in Iraq, is very expensive, since Blackwater charges the U.S. $445,000 per year per guard, which the report mentions is six times the cost of a regular public sector soldier.

In one case, Blackwater paid $15,000 to the family of an Iraqi killed by a drunken private guard. When a State Department official earlier had suggested that the firm pay $250,000, another official vetoed this for fear such a large payment might encourage Iraqis to "try to get killed" which gives one insight into the views that both the Bush administration and its private contractors have for the Iraqi people to whom they are trying to bring "peace and democracy."

The report goes on to detail Blackwater guards covering up crimes and states clearly that these guards regularly violate the substance of Blackwater's contract with the Pentagon, which is to use weapons in defense when there is "grave and imminent danger" to themselves or those they are supposed to protect. Instead, Blackwater guards have developed a search and destroy approach (my term) in which "the vast majority of Blackwater weapons discharges are pre-emptive, with Blackwater forces firing first at a vehicle or suspicious individual prior to receiving any fire." The result, the report concludes, is "significant casualties and property damage."

While the occupation itself is a disaster and a horror, using private gunman as high priced body guards and vigilantes is an affront to any rationale strategy in Iraq and can only strengthen insurgent forces of all kinds and further discredit the U.S. forces and government. The House Democrats have begun to investigate these actions and these investigations should be actively supported by all progressives and anti-war activists.

The more the irrationality and corruption that have permeated the Bush invasion and occupation of Iraq from the beginning are exposed to more and more Americans, the more even knee jerk conservatives who support the military under any and all circumstances will find it harder and harder to support a war which for Americans becomes more and more a combination of two 1980s Oliver Stone fiction films, Platoon and Wall Street. For Iraqis, whom we must always remember are the main victims, it continues to be death and destruction with no end in sight.

Norman Markowitz

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