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22 September 2007 @ 12:30 pm
Blackwater Paramilitary  
 I wrote after last weeks’ shooting of Iraqis by Blackwater people, of the dangers associated with privately contracting so-called “security” in a war zone. Our experience in Indochina 40 years go showed that when government funds operations like these, they don’t ever go away, and they almost always become corrupt. And that’s exactly what appears to be the case with Blackwater and the “private security contractors” in Iraq. 

Now we are finding that the 190,000 or so weapons that disappeared into enemy hands may have gotten there through Blackwater USA. No surprise here. The CIA had any number of private contractors working in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, many of whom were making and selling drugs to US GIs to fund their operations because Congress had cut them off. These are the kinds of things shadow security organizations do. They are hidden, under private control, and owe allegiance to no one. Everywhere else in the world, they are called paramilitary group and warlord militias. That’s exactly what we are creating here. 

Neoconservatives seem to prefer this kind of military, ostensibly because they must believe they can control it without the pesky influence of Congress. The free market fundamentalists sell us this approach based on an idea, but fail to recognize that military work is and always must be a state activity. But look at the worst, most corrupt countries in the world, and they are full of paramilitaries, militias following a single person, death squads, and the like. Americans enjoy freedom from these kinds of activities precisely because they are NOT developed in the private sector, except in crime families and gangs.  

No doubt, Blackwater supporters will try to pin the problem on a few rogue elements, once again. And maybe they are correct. It won’t matter. There is a deeper question we need to be pondering: Should we have paramilitary and security contractors at all? Such a development is extremely dangerous to the strength of our democracy.