New side advert

25 May 2012 Edition

Resize: A A A Print

Guns for hire

Book review

Almost all those involved in this enterprise, from the head of Blackwater, Erik Prince, down are members of right-wing Christian organisations (Protestant and Catholic) who believe they are engaged in a crusade against Islam. And they are doing it on the US taxpayer’s dime.

Blackwater: The Rise Of The World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army

By Jeremy Scahill

Serpent’s Tail, £8.99

Review by Jacqueline Kaye

THIS BOOK, written by someone whose grandparents lived through the Black and Tan terror in Ireland, details how the waging of war has been privatised and turned into a profit-making venture by free-market fundamentalists from the United States.

As the US Army leaves Iraq there are more armed ‘boots on the ground’ than at the height of the occupation. These are not soldiers but “contractors”; they have immunity from the laws of the countries they occupy and from US military laws and they earn more than regular soldiers. Under the old White House regime of Cheney and Rumsfeld, huge cuts were made in US Defence Department spending on both manpower and weaponry. Billions of dollars were then channeled via no-bid contracts into private mercenary armies like Blackwater to replace the slashed military budget. A US Army sergeant earning $20,000 a year could pick up a thousand dollars a day with Blackwater. Simultaneously, no-bid civilian contracts worth billions of dollars were handed out to firms like Halliburton and Bechtel, also intimately linked to the US administration.

Almost all those involved in this enterprise, from the head of Blackwater, Erik Prince, down are members of right-wing Christian organisations (Protestant and Catholic) who believe they are engaged in a crusade against Islam. And they are doing it on the US taxpayer’s dime.

The Iraq War unleashed gangs of armed outlaws onto subject populations. In March 2004, a Blackwater convoy in Fallujah was ambushed and the burned bodies of four of its “contractors” were put on display. The mercenaries’ vehicles lacked the most basic defensive capabilities, regarded as too expensive. The US Army took revenge for those deaths: Fallujah was razed to the ground. In ‘Baghdad’s Bloody Sunday’, 16 September 2007, a Blackwater convoy opened fire on civilian cars, killing 17 people and wounding 20 more. No one was charged with these murders. This is a perfect vicious circle: a company that had drained money from the US Treasury was able to call on the US taxpayer to cover for its failures and the US Government to cover for its crimes.

JACQUELINE KAYE is a university lecturer specialising in the United States and has written extensively on a wide variety of modern cultural issues.

GUE-NGL-new-Jan-2106

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

Powered by Phoenix Media Group