2007/10/24

Blackwater may have to leave Iraq

From Chapter 12 of Machiavelli's The Prince:

"[Mercenaries] are ready enough to be your soldiers whilst you do not make war, but if war comes they take themselves off or run from the foe; which I should have little trouble to prove, for the ruin of Italy has been caused by nothing else than by resting all her hopes for many years on mercenaries, and although they formerly made some display and appeared valiant amongst themselves, yet when the foreigners came they showed what they were."

And now, with the mercenary/contractor outfit known as Blackwater:

"...the Iraqi government is revoking a CPA-era edict, known as Order 17, immunizing contractors from prosecution in Iraqi courts."
"...if a full revocation succeeds, American companies or individual contractors might simply up and leave Iraq rather than potentially face charges in an immature justice system."

Blackwater personnel are better than the mercenaries of Machiavelli's Renaissance-era Italy as Blackwater personnel have indeed put themselves into harm's way and have indeed suffered casualties. Still, one has to wonder how much has really changed in the last 500-odd years.
And yes, Blackwater personnel have legitimate concerns over how safe they are in dealing with an Iraqi government that doesn't have a very lengthy track record.

A recent assessment by Ambassador Patrick Kennedy found serious problems "with virtually every aspect of the department’s security practices, especially in and around Baghdad, where Blackwater has responsibility," so it's not like the Iraqi government is overreacting. A very major problem with getting rid of the contractors in Iraq is, of course, that "There are now nearly as many private contractors in Iraq as there are U.S. soldiers," meaning that if all of the contractors were to leave, a force of roughly 168,000 soldiers would suddenly find its effective strength cut in half. Contractors mostly perform static or supply convoy guard duties, meaning that if the US recruited more soldiers to fill the gaps, those soldiers would largely not be performing in-the-field combat duties. Still, removing roughly 150,000 trained, armed personnel means that those people have to be replaced somehow or the mission in Iraq must be curtailed. Complete withdrawal might be the only option.

No comments: