Saturday, June 13, 2009

Mercenaries Set Off for Afghanistan



I will be offline starting Wednesday, June 17, through the afternoon of Monday, June 22.  I will visit friends in Montana and my cousin in Ogden, Utah.  If you live in these states or somewhere nearby, and there is an event of interest, let me know.  I wanted all to know, so that you did not think I was in jail.  That might happen on June 25 when a group of us visit the Department of Justice.  All the best.






Mercenaries Set Off for Afghanistan

Thursday 11 June 2009

by: Rémy Ourdan  |  Visit article original @ Le Monde


A hired gun protects then-Senator Biden in Iraq. One mercenary conceded to Rémy Ourdan that his employers' interests differ from those of NATO: "The American and British and other armies are here to win a war. For us, the more the security situation deteriorates, the better it is." (Photo: John Moore / Getty Images)

    They are trying to be more discreet and less murderous than in Iraq. In Kabul, foreign mercenaries don't let loose with rapid fire at intersections and the laws attempt to compel them to cooperate with Afghan companies. However, with the improvement of the situation in Iraq and since Barack Obama announced that Afghanistan and Pakistan were the "central front" of the war against al-Qaeda, they've been arriving.

    The most attractive prospects and contracts for the future, private military companies deem, are on the Afghan front. The Taliban's progressive return over the last three years and the rise in kidnappings assure their business: very few foreigners circulate without protection in the streets of the Afghan capital.

    One incident drew attention to their presence. Returning from dinner on May 5, after an automobile accident, four paramilitaries working for an American company unheard of up until then, Paravant, machine-gunned an Afghan car, leaving one person dead and two wounded. The lawyer for the paramilitaries asserts that they were confronted with an insurgent attack, although the police investigation proved that the passengers in the vehicle were unarmed merchants. As in Iraq, as in other incidents in Afghanistan, justice will not be done: the men fled to the United States.

    However, the episode did reveal that Paravant, which has a contract to train the Afghan police, is a discreet subsidiary of Blackwater, the biggest mercenary company in the world and symbol of the privatization of war during the Bush years, involved in multiple killings and assassinations in Iraq and renamed Xe. It also revealed that these men respected neither the law nor their contract, bearing arms outside of their service, AK-47s that can be purchased in the black market for a few dollars.

    The Obama administration has not indicated its intentions with respect to the privatization of the war. In Iraq in 2007, the number of contractors, mercenaries and others compared to soldiers in uniform had reached a one to one ratio. Something that had never been seen before in the history of warfare. And a problem for democracy, since the contracts are often opaque and these men elude both national and military justice. It's not just the law of the jungle, but also war with complete impunity.

    Blackwater-Xe has been removed from Iraq, close to two years after the Iranian government formally made the demand following a September 2007 killing in the center of Baghdad (17 dead). The contract for the protection of State Department diplomats in Baghdad terminated May 7 and has been transferred to Triple Canopy. Blackwater still maintains two contracts in Iraq, one for the protection of diplomats in the South, the other for its aerial division, Presidential Air. One was renewed for $22.2 million in February - that is, after Mr. Obama's arrival in the White House, which evoked a howl from part of the American left. And none of this counts the secret contracts: Blackwater doesn't say a word about its activities in the intelligence field, although its connection to the CIA is very tight - to say the least.

    In Afghanistan, Blackwater-Xe has a visible presence with Presidential Air, which effects helicopter operations. The contract for protection of State Department diplomats has just been consigned to the British company Aegis. But the May 5 incident reveals that Blackwater-Xe profits from other contracts, like Paravant's. The training contract had originally been awarded to Raytheon, which signed a subcontract with Paravant. While Blackwater is the target of investigations in the United States by Congress and the Pentagon, Erik Prince's company is still supported by the administration, which entrusts it with sensitive missions.

    "There will be no reversal" in policy, thinks one American officer. "Unless it significantly increases defense budgets, the Obama administration will not be able to renationalize war. Yet these guys only make problems for us. Apart from their earning ten times more money than our soldiers, they are not subject to a single one of our rules. They have neither command nor sanction. We try to rally the population, while they don't give a fuck. They come to earn dollars and they leave." The four mercenaries who opened fire May 5 were fired by Blackwater. But in other similar cases, men have returned to the field through another company or a dummy company.

    "The more war there is, the more mercenary activity there is," rejoices "Bob," a British mercenary speaking under the cover of anonymity. "The novelty is that after September 11, our activities became super-legal. We've never made so much money. It's a golden age." He acknowledges that the "arrival of the guys from Iraq poses a problem, because, here, we have to be more discreet, not machine-gun civilians like they did over there." "Bob" concedes that his employers' interests differ from those of NATO: "The American and British and other armies are here to win a war. For us, the more the security situation deteriorates, the better it is."


    Translation: Truthout French language editor Leslie Thatcher.

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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


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