Mercenaries have no place in Iraq

Doug Hite

Let’s make a group of American vigilantes. Let’s give them better equipment than our regular soldiers. Let’s send them to Iraq. Let’s pay them better and give them better benefits than most real American soldiers. Let’s take advantage of judicial loopholes so they cannot be prosecuted under American or Iraqi law. Let’s give them a really scary name.

We have created Blackwater.

As part of a contractual agreement with the State Department, Blackwater has received more than $1 billion since 2001 with almost $600 million in 2006 alone, according to the Los Angeles Times. Blackwater has nearly a thousand employees in Iraq their mission is to protect American interests throughout the country with strictly defensive measures, as stipulated in its State Department contract.

Although Blackwater’s employees were hired for protection, it seems as if they’re growing increasingly trigger happy, most recently on Sept. 16 when Blackwater guards killed at least 11 Iraqis who were largely thought to be civilians. In a House Oversight Committee memo, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Ca.)’s staff makes note of an event in which the State Department OK’d giving shush-money to the family of one of Iraq’s vice presidents’ guards as the guard was shot on Christmas Eve by a drunken Blackwater employee. The employee was then flown out of the country within 36 hours.

These types of incidents are in abundance. According to the House Oversight Committee, there has been 195 shootings involving Blackwater employees in Iraq since January 1, 2005. In these events, Blackwater employees shot first at least 80 percent of the time. Furthermore, according to the L.A. Times, 122 Blackwater employees have been fired, including 25 who were dismissed for drug and alcohol violations and 28 for incidents involving weapons.

That’s some pretty scary stuff. Wasn’t part of the reason Al-Qaeda declared war against us because we killed innocent civilians, consumed alcohol on holy land and disregarded their way of life in the first Gulf War? Doesn’t it seem like we should’ve learned our lesson? From the Black and Tans in Ireland in the early 20th century, to Angola, to Sierra Leone; it’s pretty obvious it’s a bad idea to hire mercenaries.

Maybe I’ve placed too much faith in the State Department, hoping they would realize the way to outsource American soldiers is not to replace them with mercenaries but to actually train an Iraqi guard so we may one day get out of that god-awful country.

In fact, there is no good reason why we would hire into the private sector to guard American interests in Iraq. These people are not as well trained. They are not versed in the culture of the people whose country they’re invading. They are over-payed and they get drunk and shoot random people.

If Congress realizes that no good can come from Blackwater’s position in Iraq, hopefully, they’ll remove these vigilantes from the country and stop contracting private killing machines to help with peacekeeping.

Blackwater is no good. This war is no good. Blackwater having a place in this war is definitely no good.

Doug Hite is a junior English major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]