Blackwater in Hot Water

It’s been years, many years, since I last marched in protest of anything.  Then it was the Cambodian incursion of May, 1972.  Two and one-half years of protesting hadn’t brought an end to the war.  Campaigning for McGovern didn’t work either.  It only ended when Dick Nixon and Henry Kissinger decided it was time.  Several more years passed before I realized that politics and protest didn’t change much of anything.  What brings about change is inner reformation, that kills the will to kill.  An inner reformation that entails becoming a more humane person, a person that values not only the lives of people who look like oneself, speak like oneself, pray or have beliefs like oneself.  If I were to march in protest now, it wouldn’t just be in Lafayette Square or Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House–assuming one could actually do that without being subject to arrest by the Secret Service or being run off by the President’s goons as has happened at various locations where W travels.  No, today I would march in front of the State Department’s Office of Diplomatic Security.

It’s time for Blackwater’s contract to come to an end.  Maybe they haven’t really been guilty of all the allegedly unnecessary shootings in Iraq.  I have worked for a government agency; I know the press can and does make mistakes.  But when U.S. Army personnel say that the rear windows of civilian vehicles leaving the scene of a gun battle were shot out but not the front windows, something is wrong.  When military personnel say they can’t find shell casings from insurgents but only shell casings from Blackwater weapons, something is wrong.  One isolated incident, two isolated incidents, three or four could perhaps be aberrations.  But the reports keep coming.  Where there is smoke, there is generally fire.  When it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.

I have not met anyone face to face who is employed by Blackwater, so I can’t pretend to know for certain what is in their hearts or their minds.  Yet I can’t help but suspect, given the images of the personnel in news reports and the comments from a wide range of American civilian and military personnel in a position to know, that there is a swagger and an attitude that comes from having powerful weapons and no effective constraint on how or when they are used.  The hypervigilance, the shoot first ask questions later behavior happens to many people facing death at the hands of unknown combatants.  The defensiveness comes through loud and clear from the spokespersons, on up to the founder and CEO of the company.  The bottom line is, the people who work there are mercenaries.  Their job, if necessary, is to shoot to kill to protect the clients they guard.  The problem is, like pit bulls and other guard dogs, when employed too long in such an occupation–without adequate control, supervision and retraining, such people can become as dangerous as the people they are supposed to protect others from.  They lose their humanity.