The Age of IrresponsibilityWhy have a draft when you can hire mercenary armies?
by Michael Hirsh, Newsweek
Sept. 20, 2007 - Imagine a universe where a man can gun down women and children anytime he pleases, knowing he will never be brought to justice. A place where morality is null and void, and arbitrary killing is the rule. A place that has been imagined hitherto only in nightmarish dystopian fiction, like “1984,” or in fevered passages from Dostoevsky—or which existed during the Holocaust and Stalinist purges and the Dark Ages. Well, that universe exists today. It is called Iraq. And the man who made it possible is George W. Bush.
While many Blackwater operatives are brave and honorable—the company has lost some 30 of its employees in Iraq—many of these paramilitaries have long been known to be cowboys who act as if they are free to commit homicide as they please. And according to numerous Iraqi witnesses, they sometimes do.
Take the case of the Blackwater guard who got drunk at a Green Zone party last Christmas Eve and reportedly boasted to his friends that he was going to kill someone. According to both Iraqi and U.S. officials, he stumbled out and headed provocatively over to the “Little Venice” section, a lovely area of canals where Iraqi officials live. He had an argument with an Iraqi guard, then shot him once in the chest and three times in the back. The next day Blackwater put him on a private plane out of the country—probably only because the incident involved a rare killing inside the Green Zone and the victim was a security guard for a high-ranking politician. That was it. The company has refused to disclose his name. Then there was last week’s incident, when Blackwater guards killed between 10 and 20 Iraqis at a traffic stop, including a woman and a child. The company later said in a statement that “the ‘civilians’ reportedly fired upon by Blackwater professionals were in fact armed enemies … Blackwater professionals heroically defended American lives in a war zone on Sunday.”