All mercenaries in Iraq should be subject to UCMJ..

Ucmj According to US Code, Chapter 10, Section 805, persons in the following categories are subject to US military law.


"(10) In time of war, persons serving with or accompanying an
      armed force in the field.

(11) Subject to any treaty or agreement to which the United
      States is or may be a party or to any accepted rule of
      international law, persons serving with, employed by, or
      accompanying the armed forces
outside the United States and
      outside the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin
(12) Subject to any treaty or agreement to which the United
      States is or may be a party or to any accepted rule of
      international law, persons within an area leased by or otherwise
      reserved or acquired for the use of the United States which is
      under the control of the Secretary concerned
and which is outside
      the United States and outside the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico,
      Guam, and the Virgin Islands."


It will be argued that the "private armies" of US and other mercenary soldiers now in Iraq are not "accompanying" the US armed forces.  IMO, that definition is at the discretion of the US government.  Any "agreement" having been made by Bremer’s CPA is subject to revision by the US government.

These mercenary soldiers may be indispensible, but they must be brought under control.  pl

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46 Responses to All mercenaries in Iraq should be subject to UCMJ..

  1. Cold War Zoomie says:

    “It will be argued that the “private armies” of US and other mercenary soldiers now in Iraq are not “accompanying” the US armed forces.”
    Where do these guys sleep at night, eat their meals, and buy their personal goodies like DVDs and toothpaste?
    My bet is that they are billeted right alongside the active duty folks and USG civilians, with all living expenses paid for by DOD. An they probably have most, if not all, the MWR privileges as well.
    Of course, someone has to press charges even if they are under the UCMJ, right?

  2. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    The actions of Blackwater and the like greatly endanger those in US uniform and ultimately all US citizens. If your first loyalty is to the US flag, then it becomes obvious that, like the neoconservatives, they are acting against US interests. Once again, the issue becomes of one of loyalty.
    Look at it this way. If Blackwater operators murdered your kin in such a wanton manner, you‘d strike back by any means necessary. And this blowback is going to be directed towards the US. So anytime a Blackwater operator wantonly kills, Blackwater places in much greater peril our US troops, such as those 20 year olds patrolling Baghdad in humvees.
    It’s obvious: the animating spirit of Blackwater has nothing to do with the US flag but is best described in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Blackwater does NOT arise out of the tradition as evidenced in the WWII handbook for US soldiers in Iraq. They are not part of the tradition that was at work during WWII.
    No evidence exists that they incorporate what has been stressed at this website and basically arise from the following tenet: respect the local culture, that is how you win. All evidence is to the contrary.
    The UCMJ opens the door to establish jurisdiction to prosecute mercenaries in Iraq. Here’s a lagniappe. Prosecuting mercenaries would do much to establish the US as Sun Tzu’s sovereign imbued with the moral law, which is paramount to winning (if you believe in Tzu). So prosecution of Blackwater not only addresses the question of injustice but also becomes a military tactic to win. It should be done in the interest of national security.
    There’s a big problem with military prosecution. Based on the reluctance of the military to prosecute those in the Pentagon who sanctioned torture at Abu G and Gitmo, I am reminded of the ol’ saying…military justice is to justice what military music is to music.
    This gives rise to an interesting question for law review types. Do civilian prosecutors have jurisdiction? Also victims of Blackwater may have a civilian cause of action. Odds of winning increase in a civil case because you do not have to worry about either the reasonable doubt standard or a unanimous verdict both of which are required in criminal prosecutions. Don’t forget punitive damages.
    Several years ago, Col. Hackworth took a sure enough — no kidding around stand opposing MPRI. Here’s Hackworth from years ago. He seems to pinpoint the origin of the tradition that today has given us Blackwater.
    “While Ollie North’s Contra boys and the mercenaries who botched up the Cuban Bay of Pigs invasion might not have been so businesslike — or so blatant — they did establish an unfortunate tradition of hired guns sticking our nation into one minefield after another.
    Dozens of ex-Army pals are presently working for the ever-expanding MPRI or other such military contractors in places like Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, ex-Yugoslavia and Colombia. We’re talking booming business here.
    But others have had the moral decency to say, “Take your high-paying mercenary job and stick it in your ear.”
    One still-serving three-war vet told me: “A number of contractors have been pitching me to work for them after I retire. I said no. There’s no principles, no love of country, no honor — just MONEY. I can’t … sell my soul for a buck.”
    Take a look at those who chose the military as a vocation — a true calling. Despite any differences they may have between them, they all seem to agree on this point — Blackwater is all about selling out.
    Just a civilian opinion, but I’d be careful about privatizing two functions traditionally relegated to the State — the administration of justice and the actual prosecution of war.

  3. Homer says:

    pl: All mercenaries in Iraq should be subject to UCMJ..
    Perhaps these two paragraphs from the UN Security Council Resolution 1723 will be of interest to you.
    The second is from the keyboard of Sec. Rice.
    Affirming the importance for all forces promoting the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq to act in accordance with international law, including obligations under international humanitarian law, and to cooperate with the relevant international organizations, and welcoming their
    commitments in this regard,
    The forces that make up MNF will remain committed to acting consistently with their obligations and rights under international law, including the law of armed conflict.

  4. Bobo says:

    When you answer the question “Why are there so many (100K plus) contractors in Iraq” you come to a number of political answers which need not be enumerated on.
    We saw how Al Qaeda fouled up in Anbar by alienating the locals, can an out of control group of security contractors do the same, for sure and probably already have in a number of areas.
    Thus why have our commanders in Iraq not brought these contractors under their control?
    Yes, put them under the UCMJ and start enlarging our military so we do not get in this position again.

  5. McGee says:

    Am showing my age here, but kind of reminds me of Lockheed contractors in the 60’s and 70’s working in the Kingdom, building their own stills to subvert local ban on alcohol, partying (out of boredom) and generally living up to rep as the Ugly Americans. Except for the AK-47’s, body armor and convoys of humvees, of course…

  6. Wayne White says:

    Pat, you are spot on with respect to the ROE under which Blackwater and the rest of the armed contractors should have been operating, along with some measure of meaningful oversight, right from the beginning.
    Let’s face it, since 2003 there have been numerous bits of data about alleged or real incidents involving violent, threatening or especially arrogant behavior on the part of contractors in Iraq.
    By this time tens of thousands of Iraqis doubtless have witnessed acts of violence or sheer arrogance on the part of various contractor cadres. In a country in which very little can go a long way in helping to spread negative perceptions throughout the populace, the collateral psychological damage leading to even more deeply degraded Iraqi attitudes toward Americans in general might well be more severe than any of us can possibly grasp.
    Some of the many concluded and pending cases of abuse on the part of members of the uniformed military in Iraq demonstrate just how difficult it is to maintain normal discipline in this sort of a combat/security environment, let alone if there is, by comparison, very little oversight.
    If our effort in Iraq eventually fails, one less obvious and talked-about contributing factor would be the corrosive effect of years of contractor abuse along these lines.

  7. Andy says:

    A much better solution, at least for State, is to let it have its own security force. Or perhaps expand the Marine embassy security details to include personal diplomatic security as well.
    There’s also the problem of non-US citizen mercenaries. Is it really possible to hold a citizen of a foreign government in a foreign land accountable to the UCMJ?

  8. Cujo359 says:

    As someone who has never served in the military, I find it hard to think of folks who provide “security services” for money as mercenaries. Are the security guards in a bank mercenaries? If not, what’s the difference?
    The problem, as I see it, is that these security contractors aren’t subject to any laws or restraints. Bank guards can’t just randomly shoot people and get away with it. Giving people guns and putting them in a dangerous situation like Iraq without any restraints is such an obvious potential danger that it scarcely requires discussion. Yet here we are forced to discuss it, because our government was too feckless to provide the framework that was necessary.
    Thanks for bringing this subject up. Hopefully, someday we won’t have to have this discussion any more.

  9. J says:

    it could be argued that the bush admin. does NOT want its praetorian guard blackwater and the other associated mercs operations in the iraq aor ‘brought under control’, for if it had truely wanted such accomplished, blackwater praetorians and the other mercs would have been brought ‘under control’ of our ucmj, a long ago.

  10. Cold War Zoomie says:

    “Or perhaps expand the Marine embassy security details to include personal diplomatic security as well.”
    That would require a change in their mission. Contrary to popular belief, a Marine’s number one priority is to protect classified information inside the embassy, not the staff. And definitely not dips outside the embassy compound except in extreme emergencies.
    It would be faster for State to enhance their existing security force.

  11. Jean Soucy says:

    And there you have it. Mercenaries are identified as Paid fighters who are not of a Nationality of the warring factions. US Citizens cannot be Mercenaries, as they are a nationality of the Warring factions, and should be held to UCMJ, but, and I do not use Blackwater, all of the PSD I have used are Eastern European, South African, (Aussi and Brit who may be considered warring factions) and Ghurkas. Not subject to UCMJ. I Think Maliki is making a fuss, and rightly so, to re-negotiate the Rules of Engagement of Private Security Forces. I would suggest he be careful what he asks for, as once they reel in these guys, they will start suffering unexceptable losses, and will leave. Maliki needs to be sure his security forces can fill that Security Vacuum.

  12. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I presume that you are not American.
    I don’t care what wikipedia says about mercenaries. They also say a lot of crap about me. These PMC people are soldiers whose only interest is in the money and that makes them mercs to me. pl

  13. Jean Soucy says:

    Col Lang
    You assume incorrectly, I am an American with 26 years in US Army. Since 1992 have worked as a Military Trainer for Vinnel, General Dynamics,Lockheed Martin,TRW, MPRI, and Others. Since 2003 I hve worked on ytraining programs for Iraqi Armed Forces and other Iraqi Security Forces and The Afganistan National Army. I have seen the Security companies in action and do not always agree with there methods but appreciate their results. I have been called many things and mercenariy, though not true was not the worst. I saw your Bio, are you a member of SFA. Thanks for your forum. Jean Louis Soucy

  14. Jon Stopa says:

    The creation of private armies is one with Bush’s privatizing Social Security, etc. If we need platoons of body guards, ie., a sort of light infantry units, then we should make them a part of a military chain of command.
    And that pay, wow, that’s going to really eat into a perception of fairness.

  15. Jean Soucy says:

    I never Thought to look at Wikpedia to see what they said about you, Thanks. I always thought you kept a good handle on the Tiger Force issue and were always fair to me. Never thought you might lean Left. Is Wikpedia right.

  16. Steve says:

    Thanks Col for exposing these PMC’s for what they really are…
    “Dogs of War”

  17. Babak Makkinejad says:

    An extra-territoriality convention shoved down Iran’s throat by US after the 1953 Coup against Mossadeq’s government severly damaged Shah’s nationalist credentials and was used quite effectively in a fiery a speech by Aytullah Khomeini in 1961 – the speech that marked (in my opinion) the road to the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
    I should expect similar reactions in Iraq.

  18. Will says:

    i always look back to Rome for understanding:
    The word soldier is derived from an Old French word, itself a derivation of Solidarius, Latin for someone who served in the armed forces for pay, as opposed to warriors in tribal society where every grown man is automatically a member of his clan’s fighting force. Solidare in Latin means “to pay”; Roman soldiers were paid in solidi, so-called because they were a new type of solid gold coin brought in after a reform of the Roman money system.”
    The legio had an extreme form of punishment, decimation. For example Crassus, who was ignominiously wiped out by the Persicos at Carrahae, ordered it on one of his legios after a defeat by the slave army of Spartacus.

  19. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I thought you might be foreign because you don’t use a US PSD.
    Me, Left? I think Bush’s foreign policy is stupid. That doesn’t make me
    “Left.” Let’s see – If Jefferson, George Marshall and Robert E. Lee were “Left” then maybe I am too.
    Seriously, the Jacobin neocons at AEI and in OVP are not conservatives. They are radical revolutionaries. They want to change the world and they want the change NOW, like a three year old wants his way. I know that is not possible. The world changes itself on its own schedule. I am a conservative. They are not.
    Wikipedia is a mixed blessing. The entry on me has been vandalised a number of times. The entries are correct but some of them are things that I find unimportant while other things that were important are left out or have been removed by “editors.”
    I am a life member of both SFA and SOA. pl

  20. Jean Soucy says:

    A Lot of folks want to say that US private contractors make so much money and that if you work for one you are a mercenary. I have been their and I have met so many of them. Cooks making $50,000,Truck Drivers making $60,000 and Fire Fighters making $80,000. Project Managers making $130,000. That is not much compensation for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for 49 weeks a year. The Tax Break helps, but they are constantly in danger. and it is the everyday, simple occupations that make up the most of the Private Contractors. Not the few PSD Types that Blackwater, Triple Canopy, Global Security, ETC… employ.

  21. Jean Soucy says:

    Sir, I Understand your position. Your site tends to be a bit more cerebal than this old CSM can follow, but I try to contribute where I can based on my experience, but some of these contributers are way over my head. JLS D-6662 Life

  22. Fred says:

    You said:
    Any “agreement” having been made by Bremer’s CPA is subject to revision by the US government.”
    I believe Judge Ellis of the Eastern District of Virginia (US District Judge) has ruled that the CPA was not an ‘instrumentality of the US Government. If the contractors can’t be sued for defrauding our own government since the CPA was not a government entity then those same contractors certainly don’t have immunity from US law by claiming they are following foreign rules/laws while working directly under contract to the US Government. If contractors are on/using our bases and/or logistical (or other) support they should be forced to follow US law, including USC Chapter 10 as you point out. That would be a step to bring them under control.
    Alternately, if contractors like Blackwater claims they are working for a foreign concern then we should bill them for the services the US Army provides when they bail them out of trouble they start. Take the money, then let the contractors go back to the Iraqi government and try and get reimbursed!
    Domestically the Congress should be asking Mr. Prince how he is running Blackwater if the conduct of his employees is harming US national interest and endangering the lives our or soldiers.

  23. An interesting analysis of the development of the modern armed forces of the nation-states is contained in the 1982 book by historian William McNeil “The Pursuit of Power” describing the industrialization of the use of force since the year 1000 A.D. He explains why the hiring of the Conditerroti (sic)in 14th and 15th Century Italy led to the development of State directed armies and navies. Clearest explanation I have seen as to why States don’t just hire armies and navies.
    Fundamental reason is the States wanted to have complete control over organized violence. Also has great analysis of why the development of modern weapons led to the MIC (Military-Industrial Complex). Basically the expense of modern weaponary and technical complexity. Royal Navy from 1860 to 1914 prime example given. That Navy only tied at Jutland because they adopted an inferior range-finder to the Germans. Worth re-reading if read before as is his “Plagues and Peoples.”

  24. Martin K says:

    Sir. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on how the use of Blackwater reflects on OPSEC? I would assume that if Blackwater is tasked with diplomat convoys, etc., this would amount to protecting high value targets. I would assume in extension, US forces would be required to assist if one of these convoys go wrong, and also that there must be some sort of official exchange of information-cycle in place. As you earlier mentioned to me, anyone can be subverted, doesnt this leave a big hole in US security?
    As for the psychological effect, imagine Chicago awash with 10000 unmarked shooters dressed in black in addition to an occupying army and local civil war. Thats about Baghdad for ya. Now, the Baghdadis cant get mad at their local warlords or the US , guess who are the hated ones? Just wait for the first Blackwater-prostitute/”rape” story to come.

  25. Oracle says:

    Dear Col. Lang,
    Agreed: neo-cons are radical revolutionaries, since they want basic, far-reaching change. But I think you do yourself a disservice to call yourself a conservative without indicating that you believe in democracy and due process of law. The neo-cons believe in authoritarian rule and American domination of the world through authoritarian puppet regimes. They are like the 19th century imperialists . They don’t use the term “Manifest Destiny” often, but I think the term, and they way it was used to justify dispossessing non-white peoples on the North American continent and then the Pacific and Caribbean, is very relevant. Those who believed in Manifest Destiny always argued that the peoples to be conquered were INCAPABLE of self-government.
    Your blog has the most original, informative comments of any that I have encountered.

  26. W. Patrick Lang says:

    “you believe in democracy and due process of law.” Any real consevative believes in those things. you have to differentiate between “conservative” and “right wing.”
    People are not making the needed distinction between all the contracter employees who are performing necessary logistical work and the mercenary soldiers of security companies like Blackwater.
    I am glad to see your thoughts in this site. Welcome. pl

  27. taters says:

    Col. Lang,
    Again and again, you come up with the best solutions to difficult situations. Thanks.
    Jean Soucy,
    Glad you’re back. I look forward to reading you more here. Appreciated your input on Tiger Force a while back, and of course, thank you for your honorable service.

  28. Cold War Zoomie says:

    In all fairness, we’ve been blasting away at Blackwater but there may be times when we actually want “private armies.”
    Here are some advantages I see:
    1. Training Costs. We tax payers have already trained these guys to a high level of performance, so we don’t have to spend all that money again training new recruits. If a merc is foreign, all the better since their home country paid to have them trained. Any remedial training is handled by the contractor and only the actual training costs are passed through without us paying for food, uniforms, housing, medical care, MRW facilities, and all the other support services.
    2. Flexibility. We can “raise” a security force quickly, get them in the field, and then deactivate it more easily. No-one’s going to be re-enlisting, requiring another 10-20 years of support and who knows how many years of pension payments. When we don’t need them anymore, we draw them down quickly and put them on a plane home.
    3. Ease of Movement. Are there any treaties limiting the number of active duty “uniformed” personnel in a country? If so, bring in contractors – we do this all the time.
    4. “Smaller Government.” Politicians can claim they are reducing the size of government by replacing active duty and civilians with contractors! (I don’t see this as a benefit, but it helps explain one reason why some politicians would support outsourcing so many government jobs.)
    5. Length of Service. No laws stipulating how long a security contractor can remain in country. If someone can handle the stress and do their job well, they can stay as long as the job is required. Sometimes, active duty folks rotating in and out rely on contractors for institutional knowledge and learning the ropes.
    6. No Accountability. Are there times when no accountability is a plus? I’d have to noodle through this one much more. Sacrificing principles and a moral code for desired outcomes is a slippery slope.
    I understand all the negatives of having these guys operating in sort of a no man’s land.

  29. Peter says:

    Glad to see that you keep the Mercenary title to describe these rogue gunslingers who have no laws or proper oversight. It is improtant to keep the language clear on what these units of paid gun slingers are. That being said there is a place for contracting out security services in suport of U.S. policy. Col Lang has the proper idea, get the gunslingers held accountable, with transparet oversight by congress and the Pentagon. Since the Pentagon is going to win the battle and bring down the CIA a notch or two as an action and humit arm.

  30. VietnamVet says:

    Once you stepped off the chartered Northwest 707-320 in Cam Ranh Bay, you were a 100% in the big green machine. The next American civilian you met was an airline stewardess leaving on R&R. This defeat profoundly changed how America fought the next Iraq Wars; No Draft. In the first war the cannon fodder was provided by Egypt who vetoed a drive to Bagdad.
    The second war did not have the manpower to pacify Iraq and would have never been fought if the USA was lead by a realist instead of an evangelist. But, the “radical revolutionaries” in charge believe that they can create their own reality and invaded anyhow. Private contractors are an expensive way to continue the occupations without the draft. An expense that is not paid by taxes but debt sold to China and Japan.
    The pending bombing of Iran not only ignores history but the will of Americans who voted in the Democratic Congress to end the Middle East occupations.
    None of this is debated in corporate media. Only now and then does the stupidity and horror of war seep into their narrative of how good Americans are; U.S. Aims To Lure Insurgents With ‘Bait’. Winning heart and minds indeed

  31. cletracsteve says:

    Perhaps my tact here is a bit off topic, but, regardless of international agreements, I believe private militaries should be susceptible to the local civilian laws. My views may not be considered realistic, but I for one am totally against the use of ‘mercenaries’ for fighting/public policing. Use of contractors for construction, logistics, analysis, etc., I accept, but not for law enforcement or combat operations. To me it is no different than allowing private courts to administer justice – e.g. lynching squads. Iraq is a war zone, so ‘private body guards’ are simply military forces in operation. If we do not tolerate this in the U.S.A., why can we export it to foreign lands? Private guards policing private property is one thing, policing public property and public rights is totally different. Additionally, private militaries are managed for profit and growth, as hinted at when P.L. showed the New Orleans photo. Blackwater is building U.S. based contracting. A real army should manage the war to end it. (Comments above have discussed this as a loyalty issue.)
    I have, however, another serious reservation regarding use of paid private militaries and outsourcing war. What does one do with them when the war is finished? In the U.S.A., political influence will assure continuing funding. – But for what job? How do we disassemble these militaries. Reagan’s Freedom Fighters in Nicaragua terrorized nothern Costa Rica after they lost U.S. monetary support. I can list other examples. What wars will we create against foreign entities or disaffected Americans to keep Blackwater et. al. employed?
    War is serious. We should commit to it properly, not outsource it. Outsourcing avoids moral decisions and public accountability.

  32. W. Patrick Lang says:

    The Egyptians and Syrians had troops present for Desert Storm/Saber but I don’t recall that they actually fought. pl

  33. Mark K Logan says:

    Excellent point, Col.
    I suspect it would prove enlightening, perhaps even entertaining, for someone to ask for an opinion on this from the prospective AG at his confirmation hearing.

  34. VietnamVet says:

    According Wikipedia the following are the Arab Forces that took part in Operation Desert Storm:
    Saudi Arabia 52,000 – 100,000
    Egypt 33,600 – 35,000
    Syria 14,500
    Kuwait 9,000
    Oman 6,000
    UAE 4,300
    [Around 120,000 troops]
    Not an insubstantial number of troops who captured Kuwait City on either side of the Marine Divisions.
    After the Coalition of the Willing Invasion started going south Colin Powell was peeved that no Muslim Nation would lend peacekeeping troops to stabilize Iraq. The Bush White House is so in love with their hubris and righteousness, that they still do not recognize that a foreign invasion and occupation will always generate opposition that can only be quelled by either genocide or by overwhelming force built on a foundation of the moral high ground and magnanimity.

  35. Oracle says:

    To JLS: Point taken. My concern is that too many people today who call themselves conservatives or are called conservatives by the press really do NOT believe in democracy and due process. Many right-wingers pose as conservatives.Thus the term conservative can be besmirched. The press, as you know, is loathe to call people right wing, and thus ends up denoting many right wingers as conservatives. And confusion reigns. It is also clear that the number of true conservatives, per our definition, in the Republican Party leadership is much much smaller than it was in the 1970s. I have a friend who was a Rockefeller Republican in NYS, was against deficit spending, but for affirmative action. He is a relic. Most of the Republicans today are, sadly, right wingers.

  36. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    Sidney O. Smith III,
    Vis a vis Blackwater and their ilk not exemplifying the principles that animated soldiers in the Second World War, perhaps you are correct if you refer to US Forces. But there was another example from that conflict that might provide a more apt comparison; i.e., the SS, the Schutzstaffel, the Nazi party’s paramilitary/police organization. Although comprised of German, Austrian or other Axis-allied nationals, their allegiance was at root ideological, or at least ostensibly so. As they were direct servants of the Party, they were above the law, and their malign influence was wielded in ways that advanced the aims of Hitler and the Nazi elite, with little regard for compliance with laws, whether national or international. Is Blackwater in that league? No, but there are worrisome signs, including their appearance in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina exercising policing powers customarily reserved to the State. Not a good thing for the health of the Republic. Of course, if you can’t be bothered with that sort of passe sentimentality…
    Combine what I have observed above with your apprehensions about privatized paramilitary forces, and extend this to the possible appearance of private, corporate armies. Multinational corporations are increasingly floating free of association with national entities; why would they not consider the desirability of such a solution, particularly when doing business in “failed states”. In fact, by being the power on the ground in these environments, they can choose the laws which they wish to be governed by. They’re already predisposed to like that idea. (Say, that’s a good reason to make more failed states!) Corporations as warlords with their own condottieri to take care of business? Why not? Of course, this might complicate the (increasingly vestigial) Republic’s foreign policy; but for steely-eyed corporatist flatheads, it’s just another outmoded concern.

  37. W. Patrick Lang says:

    As I remember it, there were Saudi National Guard troops and a Qater tank battalion to the right of the marines and the Gyppos on the left. The Egyptians really did not fight (they took their time) although technically they were in the liberation of Kuwait City. The Saudi NG modernised force are a bunch of nasty bedouin. They DID fight. The Qater tank battalion were the best of the “Arab” troops. The trouble with that was that they were all Pakistani regular tankers, seconded to Qatar. pl

  38. Fred says:

    Jean Soucy,
    $50K might not be too much for a cook who is getting shot at, but this really highlights the failure of the Cheney led privatization efforts. Once upon a time privates did the cooking, if someone shot at them they shot back – they were soldiers first, cooks second, and not only did they not earn $50K/year they didn’t need private contractors to guard them and an army to guard the private contractors!
    V V,
    I would agree that the all volunteer force was established due to the popular will to end the draft. The senior military leaders (JCS?) arranged the force structure to require call up of National Guard units for support roles. I believe this was done to ensure the army would not be sent into a war without popular support – or to be kept in it without popular support.
    The privatization efforts; which brought in everything from KBR to Blackwater, were ideologically driven as part of neo-conservatism’s principle that ‘market’ should provide goods and services, not the government, and could do so more efficiently and cheaper. Iraq has proven the fallacy of the neo-conservatism’s dream of market efficiency.
    For the mercenary issue the question boils down to where does sovereignty lie, with the people – via the government, in our case a representative democracy, or does it lie in the market place? Should corporations have the power of life and death through the use of force or should governments retain that monopoly?

  39. Nell says:

    In his appearance recently on Democracy Now, Doug Brooks, director of the private military trade association IPOA (Intl “Peace Operations” Assn), said that Blackwater and others were subject to the UCMJ.
    If that’s true, I’d like to see the Pentagon begin to enforce it. If it’s not true, then I’d like to see Congress address the issue explicitly. Rep. David Price (D-NC) has been pushing for some time for legislation to tighten oversight of the security contractors, and Sen. Obama has similar proposals in the Senate.
    Brooks on DN last week:
    “at this point, they are now under UCMJ, but they’re also under MEJA, the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, which essentially says that a person working for a contractor can be brought back to the United States and tried for a felony.”
    Presumably that’s the basis on which charges could result from the supposed Justice Dept investigation into the killing of a bodyguard of the Iraqi VP’s by an off-duty Blackwater employee last Christmas eve in the Green Zone. I’m not holding my breath for charges to be filed, or even any results of that investigation to be announced, but you never know…

  40. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    To JerseyJeffersonian:
    Thank you for the comments. In my opinion, you make a significant — and as you say “worrisome” — analogy when you raise distant similarities between Blackwater and the “SS”. As I read your comment, the photo of Blackwater operators in New Orleans came to mind.
    Here’s what fascinates me by your comment: is there a correlation or parallel between the emergence of the neoconservative version of strategic intelligence and the rise of Blackwater? Are the two somehow related? Habakkuk in his paper on the “SS” — this time meaning Shulsky and Schmitt — warned us that the two twentieth century regimes that systematically practiced the neoconservative version of strategic intel — taking off from the wish — were those of Hitler and Stalin and they, to use his words, “do not represent encouraging models.”
    If the neoconservatives did adopt the Hitler model for strategic intel, then the tactics of Blackwater — as well as a the rise of a systematic culture of torture — seem to reflect this change.
    I am becoming convinced that the neoconservatives triumphed in the Pentagon in two steps. First, they overtook strategic intel and discarded the methodology of the Anglo-American tradition given to us by Kent. Secondly, they then took over the military. I am not sure how it happened but, symbolically, I believe the neoconservatives knew they had won when Lufti called General Zinni a traitor and there was no blowblack.
    After that, you have the emergence of Blackwater tactics in Iraq — along with a culture of torture — which basically disregarded lessons and the heritage of the US Military.
    From what I can tell, neoconservatives approve Blackwater. And, on the other side, those who had a vocational calling to serve our nation in uniform think they are mercenaries. And when I hear the word, “mercenary”, I always think of the enemy during the Am. Rev. War. But now I believe a comparison to SS is also apt and consistent with the Wurmser Weltanschuaang.

  41. Eric Dönges says:

    Sid, I think the comparison between private security companies and the SS are flawed because the SS was never a private company operated for profit. It started as Hitler’s bodyguard, and then gradually aquired police powers after 1933, until it absorbed all German police and security forces – i.e. it was not parallel to state power, it *was* state power (after 1933). If you really want to find some analogy to the SS in the contemporary U.S., the organisation that comes closest in purpose would have to be the Department of Homeland Security.
    I think all those people trying to link the neo-conservatives with the fascists of the 30s ignore the important distinction that the “old school” fascists wanted to merge corporate and state power for the benefit of the state (a modern form of mercantilism), while the neo-conservatives want to merge corporate and state power for the benefit of the corporation.
    To get back on topic, if mercenaries in Iraq are answerable to neither Iraqi, or U.S. civil or military law, by what laws are they protected ? In other words, if an enraged Iraqi (or anyone else, for that matter) decides to kill a mercenary, under which law would that be illegal ?

  42. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    To Eric Donges:
    Thank you for your insights. They most certainly are valid ones. The distinction between “old school” fascism that directly benefits the state and neoconservatism that, at least ostensibly, benefits the corporation indeed makes perfect sense.
    And with your insights, questions arise. Is the goal of both approaches — what I venture to call “old fascism” and “new fascism” — the same? Is the distinction one of — for lack of a better word — “methodology”. And are the effects of each one on society more similar than dissimilar? I am not a Rothbardian in the least but I find some of their observations worthy of respect in this day and age, and I recall an essay by Lew Rockwell where he mentioned the rise of Red State fascism.
    I don’t know any of the answers from the questions posed but here’s where I am at. With the recent revelation of the Wurmser option, little doubt now exists that neoconservatives will allow US troops to perish in order to reach their goal. And with that, a very real question of loyalty arises. Basically it is this. Is a person now loyal to neoconservatism or is one loyal to our US troops who find themselves in Iraq? Wurmser forces one to make this either/or choice. It is no longer a question of “and/both”. Maybe it never was.
    So I have thrown all previous assumptions out the window. To borrow from Philip Weiss in his Aug. 06 article at the American Conservative (available online), we are at a time of ideological disarray and realignment. I take this to mean that the post 9-11 world has shattered the traditional organizing principles that typically guided our civic life. So the search is on for something new. Destination unknown.
    And again, I come back to this daunting question — one that prior to the revelation of the Wurmser option I refused to consider for a nanosecond. Is the goal of old fascism — at least the one that arose with Hitler — and the goal of neoconservatism the same? I recently have been rocked to the core with the insights of the Hasidic Jews of Satmar who have warned us for decades that Zionism is type of militant ethnic nationalism that worships the State and that in fact has nothing to do with true Torah spirituality or the Judaic experience. According to the Satmar view, in the long run this type of Zionism will cause a tremendous blacklash of anti-Semitism and endanger the Jewish people worldwide.
    I have no idea if they are correct in their theological view. I am not a theologian. Counterarguments to the Satmar view should be raised with them at their website.
    But if neoconservatives are willing to take affirmative steps to endanger US troops in Iraq — as Wurmser just revealed — then there is little doubt in my mind that the Hasidic Jews of Satmar have shown a much greater loyalty to the people of the United States, including the US military. Wurmser is making the Satmar case. Or in other words, analysis predicated upon the assumptions of Satmar tend to shine a new light on “Leo Strauss and the World of Intelligence“.
    I have always considered myself a Zionist and still do. But if your loyalty is with the US and our USM, then one cannot help but look at the Satmar point of view, especially now that Wurmser has made our US foreign policy an “either/or” question of loyalty. As far as I am concerned, all those soldiers in Iraq deserve this new inquiry and time is of the essence. They are the ones who may perish if the neoconservatives get their Wurmser “wish” and Israel launches a “low yield” strike against Iran with the hopes that Iran then attacks US troops in Iraq.
    One final point. I am still astounded that the Wurmser option preferred a “low yield” attack on Iran by the IDF. “Low yield” implies that they do not want the IDF attack to incapacitate totally Iranian military capacities. Instead the inference is that the IDF strike is intended to maximize an Iranian response against the US troops in Iraq, with the hope of a US retaliation. Afterall, according to the Wurmser wish, the more US troops who die in Iraq, then the greater likelihood of a nuclear response by the US on Iran, thus fulfilling the Wurmser-Cheney objective.
    May “Hashem” forever bless those Hasidic Jews of Satmar living in the USA.

  43. Cold War Zoomie says:

    Somebody ain’t happy with Blackwater:
    Wash Post Article – DOD vs. State

  44. Martin K says:

    Sydney Smith: Very good writing, very good insights. I ould add to the spectre of neo-conservatism the very real force of Black Money and its invisible centre of gravity for understanding the new fascism. The dynamics and ethics of the new breed of hypercapitalism walk hand in hand with the anti-humanistic ideals of the neo-cons. Do not forget the religious anti-islamic perspective either, Fallaci, Hirshi Ali etc.
    As a fan of Hannah Arendt and Gerschom Scholem I also agree with you on the question of zionism vs. judaism.

  45. cletracsteve says:

    Sidney Smith
    Being a constitution-admiring American, your comments and most of this thread I find frightening, yet I also believe this is what is happening. I only would like to suggest a rephrasing of your “post 9-11” world to “post George Bush” or “post Strauss” etc. 9-11 is not the event, only the excuse. However, for clear discussion of your point and for you to use minimal words, I can understand your using that term. 9-11 is not only when we were attacked from without, but what freed the attack from within – both having been planned well before.

  46. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    To Martin K and Cletracsteve:
    Thank you for the comments. Each time I visit sst and read comments by everyone, including you, I find myself saying, “I need to take more notes.” And doubtless this is true.
    Martin K – At some point, I hope to look more closely at the works of both Arendt and Scholem. Several years ago, I came across a book titled Wrestling with Zion that included a number of essays by primarily Jewish Americans who struggled with and eventually rejected Zionism. I have always considered myself a Zionist who tended to agree with Martin Van Creveld’s idea that the 67 borders provided the best hope for a peaceful solution. But, in light of the Wurmser option and its obvious suggestions, I need to pull that book off the shelves and re-read.
    Cletracsteve — In my opinion, you are exactly right. Thanks for the insight.
    Right now, I am wondering if evidence of a systematic culture of torture points to ethnic nationalism. It seems to me that the odds of such a culture increases when ethnic nationalism is the organizing principle. I am not talking about hip-hop nation and Michael Vick necessarily. I am talking about AEI and Abu G.
    There really is no choice now but to make this kind of inquiry in light of the Wurmser option and the very real possibility that the USG’s first loyalty is not with our troops in Iraq.
    It also seems to me that the American tradition has always sought to transcend ethnic nationalism. Doubtless the experience of ethnic nationalism is enormously powerful and intoxicating — but it’s not the American way and Satmar reminds us it is not the religious way. From what I can tell, movements of ethnic nationalism historically have only lead to war and suffering — and instances of torture. Looks like we have had all three in Iraq some tactics in Iraq mirror what is happening in the occupied territories.
    Again many thanks and I look forward to reading more of your comments at sst.

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