Saturday, July 28, 2007
More Stuff You Need To Know: Mercs in Iraq
The other day my mother and I forgot our unspoken rule to not discuss politics, since she's so screamingly wrong about most of it.(just kidding, Mom) And, of course, the subject of The Shrub Prince's little skirmish came up. To her credit, she admits that the war was a mistake, but we disagree on what to do now. Personally I'm beginning to think that an immediate, albeit phased, withdrawal cannot possibly make matters worse over there, and might just remove the major rallying point around which all two dozen factions are gathered...namely us. She said that a US pull-out would leave the area in shambles, and I said that there are more than enough mercenaries there to take care of things for quite some time. She looked at me like I had just said that Scooby Doo and a battalion of muppets were on duty there, and asked me just where I had heard that particular bit of BS. Unfortunately my main source for that was The Daily Show, but only those of us who watch it know that it's not all jokes. So, in all fairness to fairness, here is some actual research into the merc situation.
In March, 2004, The Age.com reported that the Pentagon hired the Blackwater company, whose antics in post-Katrina New Orleans were less than thrilling, to hire commandos to augment the security around oil fields in Iraq, and add to the nearly 10,000 private soldiers already in the country.
In January of 2007, Jeremy Scahill, author of "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army." wrote in the LA Times that there were approximately 100,000 'civilian contractors' in Iraq, 48,000 of whom were working as 'private soldiers.' The going rate for a merc in Iraq can be as high as $1,000 per day, which is a great deal more than PFC John Q. Public makes.
On June 4, 2007, Commondreams.org reported that Britain had 21,000 mercs working in Iraq, and that Paul Bremer, upon leaving the post of Coalition Provisional Authority enacted Order 17 which effectively exempts anyone but Iraqis from prosecution under Iraqi laws. This has given the mercs wide latitude in their actions, some of which have been less than honorable. In fact, some would call them war crimes.
Ok, here's the part where I tell you my opinion of this whole mess. Regular visitors here know that I have been against this war since long before it began. In my opinion Saddam Hussein was never a threat to anyone but his own people, and maybe Kuwait, and we had no business going into Iraq in the first place. That being said, however, since we are now up to our eyeballs in this dung heap Bush has created, I say let the professionals fight it out, and bring our soldiers, airmen, marines, and sailors home. Mercenaries have been around since Og the Tiny offered Tonda the Hirsute and extra mammoth haunch to hit Eegah the Obnoxious with a rock that night after sundown. I know our military is all volunteer now, and they know what they are getting into when they enlist, but many do so out of a sense of patriotic idealism, and it is patently unfair to ask them to die in a war that, rather than increase US security, actually diminishes it. Granted Order 17 does make oversight of the mercs difficult to the point of impossible, and that needs to be addressed, but these men and women know full well the dangers they face, and since their only allegiance is to cash, let them get well paid for the risk. I can tell you from personal experience, no enlisted personnel below the rank of E-6 is making squat for the privilege of catching a bullet for Uncle Sam. And if you have been paying attention to the news lately you'll know that the Bush administration cares less for wounded soldiers than it does for frozen embryos. Bring our people home, and let those who kill for a living blow the crap out of each other.
Y'all have great weekend.