The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Iraq:
The American army sub-contracts out violence

Oct 22, 2007

On October 9, armed guards working for Blackwater murdered two women in broad daylight in Baghdad. This crime is just the latest in a long series. After the killing of 17 passers-by in an earlier incident, a Congressional committee listed “168 crimes and serious infractions” committed by Blackwater employees in Iraq.

Blackwater is only one of dozens of private armies that operate in Iraq, hired by individuals, corporations and, above all, the U.S. State and Defense Departments. According to various estimates, there are between 10,000 and 50,000 armed mercenaries in that country (in addition to the 169,000 regular soldiers), who answer to no authority, and to no court.

These “dogs of war” have been in Iraq since the beginning of the war and have been involved in murder and torture without ever worrying about consequences. Certainly, they have never faced any charges from the U.S. military.

This policy of sub-contracting has existed for a long time, but the practice grew rapidly with the arrival of Bush in office and with the invasion of Iraq. Not only are mercenary soldiers serving in Iraq, so are 150,000 others who perform logistics and maintenance for the army. Contracting out allows the American government to reduce the number of U.S. soldiers (thus reducing the number of official American deaths), and it serves as a way to give large contracts to the companies owned by friends. The mercenary companies are often affiliated companies of large conglomerates directly linked to the Bush family and to Vice-President Cheney.

Blackwater alone has received some 750 million dollars for its actions in Iraq since 2003. Despite the current scandal provoked by the murder of Iraqi civilians, it has just signed a new contract with the American army for another 92 million dollars. It is headed by the son of an ultra-wealthy, ultra-conservative Michigan family, which has thrown lots of money at organizations opposing abortion, civil rights, public schools, etc.

On October 15, Bush’s government implied that Blackwater will leave Iraq within the next six months – in other words, the time needed for these killers to be integrated into other private armies operating in the country.

What the mercenaries do in Iraq is what all the colonial armies did, and what today the American army itself does in the same area and against the same innocent civilians. The only difference is that in the army, ordinary soldiers at times have some scruples, and can even oppose the dirty work their commanders want them to carry out. Mercenaries are hired just because they are ready to do such a job.