Are Blackwater Employees Mercenaries?

Erik Prince, the founder and spokesperson for Blackwater, says that the disagreeable word “mercenary” doesn’t apply to their company because a particular dictionary defines the word to mean a “professional soldier serving a foreign power,” and they don’t serve any foreign power, and in addition, they don’t take part in any offensive actions. This argument can be quickly deflated by pointing out that many professionals hired by Blackwater are in fact foreigners, some from countries like Chile that adamantly rejected the “Coalition of the Willing.” It’s clear that these soldiers are in fact serving a foreign power, that is the U.S., and that the entire Iraq occupation has been nothing more than an offensive action. But that would simplify the question to a matter of semantics when in fact our situation is far more distressing.

Can war be ethical? Certainly, we don’t want to wage unethical wars to line the pockets of major corporations and dictatorships. But are we in this case?

Look. If you pull out a gun and blow someone’s brains out, it’s not always a crime. Killing a criminal in your house who was threatening your life is not considered wrong at all. If you see a woman being raped and you shoot the rapist, you’ll be awarded a medal as a hero. Other than that, we treat homicide as manslaughter—unintentional—all the way to first-degree murder—planned and executed dispassionately. And then, there is the assassin, who commits first-degree murder for profit.

There’s nothing new or controversial about that list, but it is rarely applied to war, and it should be. Defending our country from an aggressor is like killing an intruder – it’s supported without much question. Our country is filled with patriotic citizens who will eagerly join our military forces to fight such a threat, at little or no pay, by the way. Those in the war-making business understand the need for an attack on our country to get new profitable wars started and get buy-in from the public. The list of embarrassing “false flag operations”—that is, bogus attacks on our country orchestrated by our own side—is a very long indeed.

Unfortunately, the occupation of Iraq is neither a defensive war or an attempt to rescue a victim from a rapist. It's as if we invaded a house far across town because we were told the family owned WMD that might hurt us, and we then pinned a man to the floor. We’ve had him pinned for four years, but he’s had one hand free and he keeps slapping us, jabbing us with pins, and spitting in our face. We do the same to him, but we use a knife and cut him much more than he can. While we’ve had him pinned, we’ve looked around the room and realize he didn’t have any weapons. We look at his face and realize he's not Osama bin Laden, or anyone else who apparently attacked us in 2001. The person who told us to invade was lying. Now, the President says we should keep the man pinned, and in fact, keep that last arm in check, particularly when we consider all the injuries we’ve received. For some reason, we seem to forget that we are engaged in a very unethical action, and we should release the man on the floor, and try to make him whole.

But if we continue to keep the man pinned, if we continue an action that we know is criminal, then the blame will shift to us. We are short of recruits in this endeavor because patriotic Americans are smarter than that. They know that this war should be equated with murder of the first degree, and those responsible for starting it thrown in jail, at least.

On top of all this, we find corporations like Blackwater, who hire people—even foreigners—driven not driven by patriotic duty, but simply by profit—high profit that will override many a soldier’s sense of ethics. Such mercenaries are akin to assassins. Immense sums of money distorts the thinking process of many people, but you would think that Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, would be above that, given that he inherited some $500 million from his father’s entrepreneurship.

Many people can see through the disaster of this war. They want to release the man pinned to the floor. But Prince is just the opposite, corrupted by the prospect of even more money for his private mercenary army. Prince claims to be a Christian, but Jesus would clearly never develop such an enterprise, and so we must regard that as just more hot air of psychological denial.

Here in San Diego, we witness an unprecedented attempt to turn a sensitive mountain valley zoned as an agricultural preserve in to an urban training area, with essentially a 300-room hotel and 18,000 sqft armory (almost ½ acre) of high explosive arms and ammunition. This, in an area of high fire risk, low water availability, and limited infrastructure. The San Diego County Department of Planning and Land Use says the installation qualifies as a "utility," akin to a cell phone tower or power sub-station. The public sees through this charade, just as well as they are seeing through the war profiteering in Iraq. Plain and simple, this insane mercenary training camp is not going in. The public is aware of the deception and it won’t stand for ruining a pristine mountain valley and continuing support of a misguided and criminal war.

Wake up, Prince!

Raymond Lutz is the coordinator of and can be reached at .

-- Raymond Lutz - 29 May 2007
Topic revision: r5 - 07 May 2008, RaymondLutz
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