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Blackwater : the rise of the world's…

Blackwater : the rise of the world's most powerful mercenary army (edition 2007)

by Jeremy Scahill

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955219,086 (3.77)16
Title:Blackwater : the rise of the world's most powerful mercenary army
Authors:Jeremy Scahill
Info:New York, NY : Nation Books, c2007.
Collections:Your library

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Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army by Jeremy Scahill

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Chilling ( )
  bke | Mar 30, 2014 |
Quick review: Blackwater is one of the leading corporate players in the growing privatization of American military might. This book is a timely study of Blackwater and, more generally, of America's increasing reliance upon privately employed mercenaries. Who are these individuals? And who is behind the corporations who employ them? This well-researched book is a real eye-opener and puts much of the current Blackwater news in context. It is quite readable, at times even gripping, and rarely falls into repetition or hyperbole. Highly recommended. ( )
  ksimon | Feb 6, 2014 |
Torn. On one hand I should have read this when it was more timely. On the other the rambling meant it sat on my shelf for far longer than it would've if it was written in a straightforward way ( )
  newskepticx | Dec 18, 2013 |

Addendum 8/6/09: Erik Prince accused of murder. http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090817/scahill

I had no idea the depth of antagonism toward the Clinton election evinced by such stalwarts as Scalia, Colson, Dobson, et al who, in public statements, suggested that any ruler, elected or otherwise, who was not following the divine mandate as they understood it to be, deserved to be overthrown, violently if necessary. The level of their vitriol is astonishing. Place the rise of Erick Prinz's private army, the Blackwater folks, and you have a scarry scenario, since Prinz and his family were in the forefront of support for these guys.

Support for privatization of military support had begun with Cheney and Rumsfeld long before their Bush the 2nd years as they reduced the military budget. Cheney's connections to Halliburton and KBR made his motivation suspect since they would be primary beneficiaries of government largess for such a scheme. There is no question that the Blackwater "mercenaries" (I think they meet the standard definition of the word and Blackwater hired many non-US nationals, so why quibble unless you are trying to obfuscate.)

The biggest concern I have after reading this book is that the United States government had ceded foreign policy to a corporate entity. Clearly, the Blackwater folks had a very broad mandate in their charge to protect civilians. They could interpret that charge in any way they saw fit and we all know that a good offense is the best defense. The military, whose soldiers made about a fifth of the mercenary salary, were often forced to come to the aid of the Blackwater folks who might have begun a larger engagement in a situation, where, for policy reasons, the US government or military did not want to engage troops. That the mercenaries had been specifically exempted from the standard rules of engagement which applied to the military could only make things worse. This included the use of non-standard weapons. One Blackwater type admitted to using "blended metal bullets" which made virtually any impact fatal.

In its infinite wisdom, the administration (Bremer) decided to make contractors immune from any prosectution for crimes committeed while in Iraq while performing their role under contract. That gave them virtual license to do whatever they wanted since Bremer had also ruled that the Uniform Code of Military Justice also did not apply. In addition, Congress and the administration permitted them to conduct their business in secret (since they were private companies) and even managed to vote down an anti-war-profteering bill proposed by Senator Leahy. Now think about that, they were saying, in essence, go ahead and make all the money you want, however you want, and screww the government all you want, because we say it's OK.

Let's face it, it's all about money. Rumsfeld and Cheney wanted most of the cost of the war off the books, they didn't want any kind of draft that would have forced the US to take a close look at their policies, they wanted their companies (Halliburton and Blackwater - a major Republican contributor) to make a shitload of money, which they have. Not only that, but these private armies became instruments of hidden policy. The "Caspian Guard" operation used Blackwater troops to guard the oil pipeline through Georgia (after the US helped to subvert the government of Eduard Amvrosiyevich Shevardnadze during the so called Rose Revolution in favor of Mikheil Nikolozis dze Saakashvili because the former wasn't pro-US enough.) Using these private armies, I believe, carries significant risks for the United States. Should they be attacked, it's most likely whatever administration is in power would come under enormous pressure to send in the troops. Not only that, but the companies insist they are not responsible for benefits for the families of those killed while under contract. That's the US government's job. So we get screwed twice.

It's time for a serious debate on the role of private contractors as instruments of foreign policy, and I suggest it may go beyond the military's impact. Clearly corporations with a large presence in a foreign country will have a decidedly different view of US hegemony and imperialism than Washington.

So here I am reading this book and a thought springs to mind. What organization in the United States would have the manpower, the most to lose, the true belief, and the money to engage in regime change in the United States. Blackwater? Nah, I must be just paranoid, right?

( )
1 vote ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
I found this book to be very well researched and very well written. The only reason why I gave it a 4 star, is because it seemed to me, to represent only side of the matter. I am sure Blackwater would have a completely different perspective.

The first twenty or thirty pages were a little slow, but then it picked up. Once it picked up, i could not put it down. The book was stunning, and assuming all this is true, the implications are frightening indeed. I am not American, and I don't live in America, however, it would appear to me that a most insidious and dangerous force is slowly taking over much of the security measures/activities in the US, and that this agency may become stronger than the government ones. Since they are motivated primarily by money and power, their lust for the same will be implacable, and the security systems will be held ransom by utterly ruthless men, driven by their cold, hard motives.

Brr... This can be a scary prospect indeed, and I would not like to think too deeply about this at all. I would not sleep at night.

All in all, a fascinating book about the growth of Big Brother in our backyards. ( )
  RajivC | Mar 20, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 156858394X, Paperback)

On September 16, 2007, machine gun fire erupted in Baghdad's Nisour Square leaving seventeen Iraqi civilians dead, among them women and children. The shooting spree, labeled "Baghdad's Bloody Sunday," was neither the work of Iraqi insurgents nor U. S. soldiers. The shooters were private forces working for the secretive mercenary company, Blackwater Worldwide. This is the explosive story of a company that rose a decade ago from Moyock, North Carolina, to become one of the most powerful players in the "War on Terror. " In his gripping bestseller, awardwinning journalist Jeremy Scahill takes us from the bloodied streets of Iraq to hurricane-ravaged New Orleans to the chambers of power in Washington, to expose Blackwater as the frightening new face of the U. S. war machine. * Winner of the George Polk Book Award * Alternet Best Book of the Year * Barnes & Noble one of the Best Nonfiction Books of 2007 * Amazon one of the Best Nonfiction Books of 2007

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:43 -0400)

In this expos‚e by radical journalist Scahill, you will meet BLACKWATER USA, the world's most secretive and powerful mercenary firm. Based in the wilderness of North Carolina, it is the fastest-growing private army on the planet, with forces capable of carrying out regime change throughout the world. Blackwater protects the top US officials in Iraq, and yet we know almost nothing about the firm's quasi-military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and inside the US. Blackwater was founded by an extreme right-wing fundamentalist Christian mega-millionaire ex-Navy Seal named Erik Prince, the scion of a wealthy conservative family that bankrolls far-right-wing causes. This book is the dark story of the rise of a powerful mercenary army, ranging from the blood-soaked streets of Fallujah to rooftop firefights in Najaf to the hurricane-ravaged US Gulf to Washington DC, where Blackwater executives are hailed as new heroes in the war on terror.--From publisher description.… (more)

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