IN LIGHT OF BLACKWATER-A NEW SLOGAN
A CHANGE OF SLOGANS ON IRAQ
IMMEDIATE UNCONDITIONAL WITHDRAWAL OF ALL U.S. TROOPS-AND MERCENARIES! OUT WITH THE HESSIANS!
Seemingly it is impossible for news coming out of Iraq in an average week to be anything but unrelentingly macabre and mind-boggling. Case in point- Over the weekend of September 15, 2007 a shooting incident occurred resulting in at least several deaths and injuries involving the 'private' security company Blackwater. Blackwater provides ‘support services’ to many American governmental agencies, in this case the U.S. State Department, in Iraq so initially the news seemed like just one more case of these otherwise unemployable cowboys getting out of hand and becoming panicky under ‘fire’. Needless to say Blackwater has denied all responsibility (and liability) for their actions. Moreover, they argue, even if things did get a little out of hand there may have been insurgents within a hundred miles of their employer’s destination so creation of a ‘free-fire zone’ was an appropriate response. When I first read the report I purposefully held off comment because I was not sure which way the thing was heading, if any. Over the last several years there had been occasional reports on the doings of these so-called wildcat ‘service providers’. Now all hell has broken loose over the weekend shootings with the Iraqi government threatening reprisals and suspensions of permits. What gives?
Those of us who oppose this war, and particularly those of us who have fought it under the slogan of immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq, have been following the bouncing ball of timetables and ‘official’ troop drawdowns. In the meantime we have either ignored or downplayed the role that mercenaries (and frankly while these Blackwater agents and others may not satisfy that definition under international law that is what they are) have played in the ‘shadow war’. These are not nature’s noblemen (and women) but the dregs dragged from the hills of Arkansas, Idaho and the retirement communities around military bases, among others locales. Moreover, these people provide as much an ‘armed and dangerous’ threat to the Iraqi population as the ‘official’ troops. While the numbers are somewhat in dispute- ranging from 20,000 to 50,000- this is, in effect, a parallel ‘unofficial’ very well paid American army. As the reports have dribbled out of previously unreported (or under-reported) incidents a number of unidentified Iraqi civilians have alleged that they fear the ‘officials’ less than these rogue elements. Nice, right?
It is not as though we have not had our own experiences with these types. In the American Revolution we had to face those damn Hessians that George III (as far as I know not related to the current George, except politically in their joint fetishistic attachment to the prerogatives of the divine right of kings) send over to roust the rustics. By all reports the Hessians were the same kind of cutthroat hell-raisers as these foreign legionnaires who are strutting around in Iraq today. What does all this mean politically? Damn, as if we did not have enough to do in the withdrawal fight we now have to get out the old posters and rewrite our slogan- Immediate Withdrawal of All American Troops and Mercenaries from Iraq! Hessians Out! Oh yes, by the way, it would not be a bad idea to start subscribing to Soldier of Fortune magazine to see what the cowboys are up to these days. Enough said.