In recent news reported on CBS and in the New York Times, the Iraqi government has banned so-called “private military contractor” Blackwater USA from operating in Iraq. This recent turn of events comes on the heels of a shootout involving the company that left eight Iraqi civilians dead. The mercenary company has been ordered to leave, but the U.S. State Department is working feverishly to perform damage control, hoping the Iraqi government won’t force them to expel Blackwater. Apparently our military doesn’t have enough people left to do the job, thanks to Bush & Rumsfeld’s budget cuts, and now we have to rely on mercenary war profiteers like Blackwater to do our fighting for us.
The story doesn’t end there, though. In an even more interesting turn of events, apparently there is a law, Coalition Provisional Authority Order No. 17, written shortly before the U.S. officially transferred power to the Iraqis, which gives companies like Blackwater immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law.
So, they’re immune to Iraqi law, and are unlikely to be held accountable under any U.S. law (at least not while the Bush League is in town), so they operate pretty much with impunity.
Basically, they are a bunch of civilians, over there doing jobs that our boys would be doing, if we had enough personnel left after Rumsfeld’s Ruin and Bush’s Blunder. But we don’t, so it’s a perfect opportunity for this collection of wannabe soldiers to keep on playing soldier, and get paid big contractor bucks for it, as much as $500 to $1500 per day.
That’s right. These mercenaries are getting paid five to ten times as a typical private or corporal do do the same jobs. As a senior NCO I made just over $3500 per month.
That’s what we in the military called “FUBAR”.
If there’s an upside to this situation, though, it’s that these mercenaries aren’t part of the military or federal pay structure. They aren’t protected by the Geneva Convention, nor do they nor their families get disability benefits from the government if they’re killed or injured in the fighting. They’re civilians carrying weapons in a war zone and performing the duties of soldiers. They operate independent of any law, national or international, but with the imprimatur of the Bush Administration. They are, in every sense of the term, Unlawful Combatants. No different from the terrorists, insurgents and mercenaries we’re supposed to be fighting. Their presence in Iraq is shameful and disgusting.
If they want to play soldier, fine. That’s their choice. They just shouldn’t expect sympathy from the real soldiers when it’s their asses on the line. War profiteers and mercenaries deserve what they get.