Blackwater a black mark for America

By Paul Cruse III

Some people have not heard of the company Blackwater USA. You may think it is a construction company or possibly a landscape business, but you’d be surprised to learn that Blackwater is the name of an American-based mercenary group, or more politically correct, a security firm. Presently, the United States has hired this “security firm” to work in Iraq and Afghanistan. Recently, it has come under scrutiny for “unprofessional” practices.

The Iraqi government is complaining about a recent shooting of 11 Iraqi civilians by Blackwater security personal. These securities personnel were escorting state department staff members they were contracted to protect when they opened fire on some Iraqis approaching the convoy killing 11. Later, it was found that people they shot were unarmed civilians. Blackwater USA did issue an apology, but said that their employees acted “appropriately.” This is not the first incident involving Blackwater mercenaries.

Chairman of House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has issued a report stating that there have been 195 other shootings since 2005, an average of 1.4 a week. More than 84 percent of those shootings Blackwater personnel were the first to open fire. These types of actions damage U.S. foreign policy and make it harder for Iraq to become stable.

This increased use of mercenary groups could bring the end of the United States of America. A major legitimacy of government is its monopoly of force. When governments outsource the use of force it greatly undermines them. The use of mercenary organizations has rarely paid off in the long term for the governments they worked for.

In Ancient Rome, German mercenaries were hired to stabilize the edges of their empire. The German mercenaries later turned on the Romans, conquering them and bringing about the Dark Ages. The British Empire also used mercenaries in Africa during the 19th century. These mercenaries also turned on them, forcing the English to fight the African-hired warriors for land then had already conquered.

History shows the damages this type of “outsourcing” can bring. America has used mercenary groups before in past military conflicts. The major difference is past mercenary groups were assigned to particular branches of the military and thus were answerable to those branches. In addition, many of those groups were local factions personnel. Never before has the government used an American mercenary group on this large scale.

In addition, the contracts between the president and Blackwater are unconstitutional. Blackwater is hired by the Coalition Provisional Authority, which the president has primary authority. This security firm only answers to the people who hired them. In essence, it only reports to the president, which is like the president having his own personal army. Congress has no real control over them. Congress could cut the funding to them, but actions like this have not stopped past presidents. President Ronald Reagan lobbied other countries to fund his covert military actions in Nicaragua and Iran. When the president uses Blackwater mercenaries, he is not limited by the War Powers Act of 1973. This act gives the president only 90 days to use military force without the consent of Congress. After the 90 days, the president must either ask for a declaration of war to be made or lobby for an extension.

Currently, there are more Blackwater personnel than there are American troops in Iraq. If Congress does decide to pull the army out of Iraq, the president could still have a military influence in Iraq by using Blackwater mercenaries. To make matters worse, Blackwater personnel are not held accountable to Iraqi laws due to an order issued by L. Paul Bremer, director of reconstruction and humanitarian assistance for post-war Iraq. Using Blackwater, almost anything is legal.

It is said that privatization is the best way for the economy to grow, for the federal government to spend less money and for the American people to pay less taxes. But historical precedent and recent events have shown us that the use of mercenaries will only lead to catastrophe and tragedy.