April 6, 2004
Mercenaries Undermine Stated Goals In Iraq
BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
According to the latest reports the four contractors killed in Fallujah were employees of Blackwater Security, a firm that provides security and other “services” for dignitaries and corporate executives in dangerous countries or war zones, such as Colombia and Iraq. Paul Bremer, Bush’s Baghdad Viceroy, is guarded by a Blackwater contingent.
The US and Britain have increasingly hired private security firms to work in Iraq, and there was even a report in the Army Times that new bullets were being “tested” by US civilians on real Iraqi human beings.
While many of these mercenaries come from the US and the UK, they also hail from other countries -- particularly South Africa (the apartheid era apparently produced an abundant crop of qualified individuals).
Mercenaries seem like an attractive option for the occupying forces. What’s wrong with hiring civilians who accept high risk for high pay, using them to replace regular military forces, thus reducing the politically damaging military casualty count?
The problem is that armed civilians who participate in hostilities are to all intents and purposes a guerilla army, and therefore become targets for Iraqis violently resisting the occupation.
Unfortunately, ALL westerners in civilian clothes -- be they Doctors Without Borders, UN aid workers, missionaries, or Christian Peacemaker Teams -- become targets.
After the grisly scene in Fallujah there can now be no doubt: All civilians are targets because all civilians are potential mercenaries in the service of the occupying forces.
Consequently, until the US and UK revoke and renounce the contracting of mercenaries, more killings similar to the one in Fallujah will occur.
The result will be that as more contractors and civilians die, assistance from legitimate aid agencies, charities, and peace groups will decrease. This hurts the Iraqi people because armies aren’t trained or equipped for nation building and providing humanitarian aid on a large, sustained scale.
It’s essential for the welfare of the Iraqi people that non-governmental organizations and foreign government aid agencies be trusted to work in Iraq. The use of mercenaries blurs the line between civilians and the military and erodes the possibility of trust between Iraqis and westerners -- a state of affairs that endangers the lives of everyone.
The Bush administration neo-conservatives behind our illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq aren’t likely to swear off the use of mercenaries, and thus they’ll continue undermining the lofty goals they allegedly hope to accomplish in Iraq. If their past record and ideology is any indication, the incident in Fallujah will be used as an excuse to retaliate with higher levels of violence -- inevitably inspiring more Iraqis to condone violent resistance.
The neo-conservatives never had to learn the lessons of Vietnam; they probably won’t learn the lessons of what’s happening now.
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
Mike Kress is an Air Force veteran who spent six months in the Persian Gulf. He lives in Spokane, WA, and serves as vice-chair of the city’s Human Rights Commission. Contact via email@example.com.
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