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A bird's eye view of the vineyard
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Moveable Feast Cafe 2017/07/19 ? Open Thread Wed Jul 19, 2017 14:30 | Herb Swanson
2017/07/19 13:30:01Welcome to the ‘Moveable Feast Cafe’. The ‘Moveable Feast’ is an open thread where readers can post wide ranging observations, articles, rants, off topic and have animate discussions of
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Outsourcing murder & making war a private affair behind doors & out of sight
anti-war / imperialism |
Thursday August 27, 2009 00:05 by gurgle-tweet iosaf mac diarmada
The Anglo-American world order's media industrial complex has followed some key leaks to the "New York Times" in this August with shallow expressions of shock. It appears that Cheney authorised the CIA to outsource intelligence profiling with the purpose of arranging murder to a number of the usual suspect "private security consultancies". We've long known the name of one very prominent US company, Blackwater, and recently even in Ireland, we on the left, came to consider the activities of IRMS after on this site ample evidence was presented linking Michael Dwyer to both it and the same far-right Hungarian paramilitary group whose summer induction of new members was broken up last Saturday(*). But honestly, to understand our world today, be it the middle east, mid Asia or more to my point Latin America - it is essential we examine the "privatisation of war".
marlon brando was only a method actor
in case you've missed why Blackwater is in the news again :-
"..........Mark Manzetti, writing in the New York Times on August 19 2009, reported that the CIA had hired Blackwater "as part of a secret program to locate and assassinate top operatives of Al Qaeda." http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/20/us/20intel.html
Newly appointed CIA director Leon Panetta had recently acknowledged a planned secret assassination program, one withheld from Congressional oversight. Manzetti's sources which tied the assassination program to Blackwater declined to have their names made public. The CIA was acting on a 2001 presidential legal pronouncement, known as a finding, which authorized the CIA to pursue such efforts.]Several million dollars were spent on planning and training, but it was never operationalized and no militants were caught or captured.http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8211088.stm http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124736381913627661.html .........."
You can skip the next section and get to the list of groups and their global concentration paying close attention to the three principle theatres of action.
Indeed you don't even have to read anymore at all & just take the analyst Dario Azzellini's word for it. Because he's just finished a book on the privatisation of war and insists that Colombia is base one, Iraq was base two and Afghanistan base three. Golly gosh they work these lads hard, i'm sure they'd like somewhere cooler with less poisonous insects sometime.
Privatised war and mercenary groups are since the beginning of the 21st century concentrated in order of subcontracts :-
the former Soviet Union
That's a turn around for the fledgling industry which during most of the 20th century mostly shot up and raped and pillaged Africa.
now the background stuff I delight in writing :-
First off, & especially for the benefit of an Irish readership some of whom may ignore the distinction between professional soldier and mercenary and only accept a "freedom fighter" as being the only legitimate kind of soldier there is, I would like to establish what I mean by the mercenary groups I shall outline in this piece.
We all know what is meant by the euphemism the oldest profession . I wonder how many would understand why I would call accountants, book-keepers & numerates be they gifted of memory or skilled with fingers or abacus the second oldest profession ? I'm sure most people on the left (as our readership are) of either lefty-ness, anarchist of good conscience or exceptionally well read and seminar taught marxist would understand that as soon as surplus appears in any society you see two emergent groups :
a) those who quantify the surplus.
b) those who guard the surplus.
Now of course I'm leaving out the all important lock smiths in that over-simplification for the important reason that societies do not always enjoy surplus and often suffer shortage. Without too much ethical philosophical speculation or reflection on the inate impetus of greed versus want, we see that those types who guard surplus are in times of shortage quite nifty and taking other peoples' surplus in a way which your average accountant of the contemporary age or our distant neanderthal cousin mathematicians just wouldn't have been up to.
We can simplify this group of people as the "warrior" class, we could even be excellent Irish English Literature Secondary level syllabus trained sophists and term them "hunters".
All through history men (and no doubt some women) who were good at kicking the shit out of other people or using whatever arms had been developed took jobs as warriors or soldiers. It is worth noting in passing that the vast majority of them did so for very little pay or in the cases of the historically longest militarised societies for great lengths of their productive life. A Roman imperial soldier was lucky if after 40 years he got a slave of his own known for those interested in etymology as an addictus hence our modern word addiction which describes a mixture of reward and slavery.
Mercenaries though were & are different.
For one any strapping well built lad or lass who left their village and joined an army to do a spot of fighting for pay which wasn't really guaranteed, would almost always end up in the front line & quite soon dead without a decent burial, offering to the gods or letter home to the mammy.
Mercenaries have been and still are individuals who have been highly trained by a professional army more often than not in one of their best units who then for some reason decide to take their "talents" elsewhere. There are perhaps a variety of reasons for their decision to move on. We could suggest a lack of corp d'esprit which normally would see them completely at home in the substitute family structure which their regiment or unit is supposed to provide. Equally we could simply suggest they're so blood lusty that they don't like being told when to stop killing people. However, the generally accepted reason upheld by the cutting edge of contemporary cinema and television series is that people love easy money, fast food, faster girlies and dressing up in whatever clothes take their fancy. Indeed we can't underestimate the emergent attraction of internet social networks either now that most NATO militaries disallow their soldiers chat online for fear of viruses.
No sooner had the Bush / Cheney / Rumsfeld invasion of Iraq begun, senior (generals) of the British army warned that the insufficient number of troops deployed and lack of post-invasion planning would lead to defection from their elite units to private security companies
At first I understood all of that in two ways : (1) absolutely bloody spot on considering the as of yet inexplicable operations carried out in the crucial three days between invasion and control of Baghdad, one of which was the robbery of the Museum. (2) a bit of flag flying on the part of the British war office looking for more funding and improved pay scales. But then the flag flying got more personally traceable. The period of 2004-2005 saw letter writers from Cornwall and the Orkneys express their concern not only in "The Telegraph" but also "Janes Weekly". As I never tire to joke, "Janes Weekly" is not a porn magazine it's the news-sheet of the defence and espionage sector.
By 2006, the worries about the "killer brain drain" and left veterans to actually produce the first SAS member story (who many Irish would agree are but legal murderers) They were now making regular splashes in the English pro-military newspaper "The Telegraph" with dire warnings that their well trained boys were being tempted with a year of the queen's pay for one day's work. As this back article from 2006 by Terence reminds us http://www.indymedia.ie/article/74918 this was supposedly the first time a SAS officer had refused orders on moral grounds .
Then Blackwater came out of their training facility in the Carolina swamp where contrary to all law they busy their days with fully automated weapons and surface to air missiles.
TD of "Cosantoiri Siochana" wrote in January of 2007
Blackwater USA : "The Dogs and Whores of War ?"
see? the oldest professions without the accountants.
Within a month February 2007, they killed 27 civilians as Miriam reported here
US mercenaries cause carnage in Baghdad
Now all of you know the household names of our own Irish mercenary company IRMS. You probably remember that apart from Dwyer, none were Irish.
That was something I pointed out in the comments to Miriam's piece on "US mercenaries". Yes - the accountants were US. The contractors we now know this week were US. The money was the green back dollar. But who were the dogs filling the gap?
I wrote back then which is still very relevant to the list this article ends with - but you can skip if you want
"Before Blackwater the US company that "filled a gap" in Iraq & Afghanistan of course there was Sandline who filled a gap in Guinea and much of Africa. Before Sandline there was of course the collapse of apartheid South Africa which left qualified psycopaths looking for a job - before apartheid South Africa there was the French "colonel" Bob Denard who was acquitted finally for the assassination of President Ahmed Abdallah of the Comoros Islands (who had been his former employer). Before long we get back to root of the insult "blaggard" or the black guard slave corps then we're at the buccaneers or "privateers" who tipped the balance in global european expansion. They all "filled a gap". From blackwater to black guards. From Tim Spicer to the blinding butcher of the Khyber.
But what is "the gap" they fill?
In the most immediate cases of Iraq, the gap they fill is that of legitimate international institutions which naturally were not present since the war was illegal, and the moment the invaders simply handed the jobs of policing back to Saddam's "constables" with few higher ranking arrests which coincided with the decision to hobble all left wing trade union activity thus ensuring political organisation would be on religious sectarian & traditional militia lines - there was a gap. In the case of Africa, the gap was again the legitimacy of the governments in question and that most appealing of gaps to evil men - a blank check to end the extension of rights.
What can be done?
Difficult one. The South Africa government a year ago introduced the "Prohibition of Mercenary Activities Bill" which aimed at ending the role that state has played before and after apartheid in recruitment of smaller scale mercenary workers. Those jobs too dirty to get into the classified sections of "Soldier of Fortune" where mostly pop singers & fashion designers find their private security but also too small scale to require the taxed up "on the books" power of Blackwater. But at a stroke 780 South African citizens had 6 months to negotiate their exit from the British armed forces - as usual the problem was shuffled rather than ended. Many of them found their way to former US SEAL officer Prince's Blackwater.
Who is Mr Prince (owner of Blackwater) ?
He's a delightful type, devout Roman Catholic who served as a US navy "SEAL" officer who served in Haiti, Bosnia and "the Middle East".....never further than 7 hours from a aircraft carrier. He's anti-euthanasia, anti-abortion & is known to use opinion on such issues as part of his "moral screening" recruits. When he was starting out he put in the hard work of building a military facility in the Great Dismal Swamp, North Carolina complete with the whole range of weapons which are technically illegal in that state, but save one supposes for a few off the beaten track airsofters looking for big game - nobody noticed. At present there are much more than 2,000 employers known to be operating in 9 states. They are the Adecco of private armies, & most curiously they are the model for the future............ As long as men are trained to kill, there will be those looking for work. As long as companies like Mr Prince's can raise their head above the swamp & such dubious beginnings, then those in the swamp will take the blame... Already the apologists for the last Blackwater incident point to the previous of reknown when they were the "victims" torn apart by a mob in Fallajuah, the mob seemingly couldn't find some real US troops...
Which lastly brings me to the current profile of Blackwater employees in Iraq if not Afghanistan. There might be a misconception based on the general profile of mercenary activity as widely known - Spicer, Sandline, Africa, Mark Thatcher etc.... that most mercenaries are ex-SAS or exSEAL or in any case from either US or UK military backgrounds. Ah! but therein the mystery as the poet said. Since at least 2004 the UK war office (which perhaps uniquely of ministry of defences gets its name right) has been working in its own ways to stop the "brawn-drain". That meant the discussion of various contracts which would bind former employees not to go off and work for another state (as in African) or another company (as in Blackwater). Obviously there was an element in those behind the door developments in the article Terence reported to us, which I again linked to at the top of this comment. But like Manpower, Adecco or anyother employment agency, who checks your typing speed and fingernails, Blackwater wants trigger fingers and brawn who are familiar with the territory.
Thus it ought not surprise you that many recruits are in fact Bulgarian.
The happy Bulgarians were brought in to the coalition of the willing by Bush for a variety of reasons - they offered him units trained in biochem weaponry (which they illegally had held cough cough) which would find WMD for us and if there was an accident, better one Bulgarian body bag than another with a blue white and red flag on it. The Bulgarians were amongst the first victims of "friendly fire" in the Iraqi theatre and having lost their military intelligence presence (which was suitably small & in any case reflected a curious loss by most coalition partners of key members intelligence staff.....another decade's story perhaps) the Bulgarians were the first to scale down their presence, without leaving naturally. In fact they didn't leave at all. They simply moved to Blackwater or any other mercenary company who would pay them more than Bulgaria.
In early 2008 Blackwater renewed their contract for Iraq. & that was after murder investigations, immunity, congressional questions, documentaries & shock.
It seems the ex-Bulgarian soldiers kept their jobs.
These are the Mercenary Companies active in order of numbers, and value of contracts worldwide, please remember the three biggest spenders are Afhganistan (I've no figures yet - Iraq and Colombia) :
COLOMBIA - 150,000,000$ - 300,000,000$ in 2007
(this works out at between 30% and 46% of all US taxpayers money to "end drugs")
IRAQ - 48,700,000,000$ in 2007 the figure includes Haliburton and other scams and as such is highly inflated and detracts from the true size of the Colombian cost.
these are the companies involved & this list is by no means exhaustive :
United States of America :
Lockheed Martin................. I presume they just provide machinery (& mechanic recruits)
Bell / Textron
Sirkorsky.............................i presume they just provide black helicopters (& mechanic recruits)
Blackwater Security........then Blackwater USA...............now "XE". (name changes help)
Custer Battles.........................(active in Latin America something about injuns)
Global strategies group
Risk advisory group
Rubicon...............................(they cross it I presume)
Meteoric tactical solutions................(would you believe they survived the law change I mentioned above?)
AIRTX......................................great place to get arms out of the baltic states (& not get caught hee hee)
IRELAND - IRMS
c/f The Shadow over Erris: Shell, IRMS and Bolivia by Andrew of the WSM
(*) Hungary far-right event broken up