The Rise of Private Armies

Making a killing: how private armies became a $120bn global industry – Independent Online Edition > Middle East

The evil side of war is the people who profit from it, and mercenaries are increasingly taking on this role with some enthusiasm. So much so, that the private armies of the world have created a massive $120bn industry. Labels like Blackwater and Halliburton are mentioned alongside political factions like the US Army, or the Iraqi Government or religious labels like Sunni or Jihad – these labels are the Trademarks of professional killers. Not content with being able to virtually print money by declaring a war, we now make killing into a commodity – death now belongs on balance sheets. The colonial war on the third world and control of its assets is not justice, it is government sanctioned piracy. It is the unfinished work of our grandparents fighting the Ottoman threat, fighting the Fascist threat, then the Communist threat, now its the threat from Islam.

When companies like Blackwater erupt in the news as responsible for a massacre of civilians one must wonder if the Allies (US and UK) are in fact the “good guys” or if we are carrying on with a tradition of evil towards the third world and indulging in apologetic “aid” as an appeasement to the marginalized.

The scandal is that the US taxpayer is funding these shadowy organisations that send in the thugs and charge clients Governments billions to employ professional soldiers who then shoot at the citizenry. Rather than expel Blackwater, the Government of Iraq should ask for a refund of US$100M for each citizen killed – make them commercially responsible for their job – that is primarily to bring safety to the citizens while protecting officials – a hard job to achieve considering suicide bombers, the “private army” on the other side of the equation.

One could compare the economic reasons for both the Blackwater contractor and the suicide bomber as motivated contractors, outside of the normal rules of war. The contractors are there because modern democratic Governments can not openly run huge military complexes the way they used to, the Vietnam war and 50,000 body bags of “our boys” is replaced by a fee. The death of professionals does not have the same political value as a tax payer funded soldier and private armies tend to invest heavily to protect their people where tax pay funded soldiers have wider priorities. So it seems like an attractive proposition – quietly sell the silver and fund the war by taking control of foreign assets. Then setup a puppet Government that administers the assets. Do private armies thus distort the picture?

Of course they do. But war is not justice. Quite the opposite. Conventions like Geneva prevent “inhumanity” on the battlefield and for POWs. These conventions have been torn up by the Bush bungled “war on terror”. It make the acts of Al Qaeda seem historically pale, the fact that we return to the colonial invention, Iraq, and do everything possible to stir up a civil war. Makes me wonder if that was always going to be the plan, if there is a darker story at work in this post colonial world. The western powers are holding onto their power by any means and that has a lot to do with the scare mongering that has painted Iran as evil, painted North Korea as a misguided and introverted (evil) regime, painted Iraq as on the verge of launching nuclear weapons against European cities, maintained Al Qaeda by not decapitating it, a terrible mistake as Osama bin Laden invites more chaos in Pakistan and no doubt another large “staged event” like 9/11 is brewing.

The use of private armies is a direct result of the insane politics that ended the “Cold war”. Instead of a USSR that would keep China busy for decades, we now have a Russia privately funding Iran, Iran funding Syria, a proxy war in Iraq between the US and Iran, Israel bombing Syria, North Korea providing nuclear materials to Syria and Iran, a dead duck in the White House. The vacuum in security following the collapse of the USSR created a fragmentation of the “forces of evil”. It is no longer efficient to have a huge lumbering army – but as Israel is demonstrating to America, it is possible for limited airstrikes to work. To win so conclusively and instantly that nobody can argue. It is like when Clinton was in office and spent a few hundred million sending in cruise missiles to get Bin Laden instead of a few trillion sending in the troops to take control of the Middle East.

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