Wednesday, October 3, 2007

3:10 to Baghdad

Chief of Blackwater [Erik D. Prince] Defends His Employees in testimony before Congress:

-"OK, maybe our ads did say "Cowboys Wanted", but it was just to get people's attention, there are a lot of other advertisements in Modern Mercenary, you have to do something to capture some eyeballs. "

-"All right already, yes -Chapter 1 of the training manual is titled "Shoot First - If You're Any Good There Won't Be Any Questions Later", but that was just a little Blackwater humor - the footnote on page 354 clearly states that weapons are to be used for defensive purposes only."

Mr. Prince is another interesting character. The son of an auto parts millionaire, he's a Republican blue blood who interned in the White House and Congress and is the brother in law of Amway founder and conservative money man Richard DeVos. Mr. Prince was an officer in the US Navy and a Navy Seal, not quite the same thing as the Texas Air National Guard. He attended Annapolis as a freshman, but returned to Michigan to graduate from Hillsdale College. Why? This guy became a naval officer shortly after college, so he had not changed his career goal, and he had the fortitude to endure Navy Seal training so he probably could have handled Annapolis, why leave? Comments anyone?

Mr. Prince is an interesting detour, as is the crazy vacuum in which no law seems to apply to Blackwater personnel in Iraq, but the real issue is why are these jobs handled by private contractors? Just as the all volunteer army made it easier politically to rush into the Iraq war, the private guards help to reduce the military casualty numbers and blunt the military recruitment problems that a dangerous, unpopular war creates. Maybe we should fight wars with real soldiers who are trained and accountable, wars that people support because they serve a fundamental national interest, instead of hiring mercenaries to reduce the political impact of a continuing mistake.

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