In Jeremy Scahill’s book, “Blackwater: the Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army,” he describes the war in Iraq as another crusade. This time, the Catholic Church aren’t the ones offering indulgences: the U.S. government is paying mercenary soldiers to do the fighting.
This privatization had detrimental effects, said reporter Naomi Klein in a 2010 public lecture at Ithaca College. Klein wrote “The Shock Doctrine,” a book which describes how governments use tragedies (such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina) to further political agendas and economic reform.
“We always saw our two books, ‘The Shock Doctrine’ and ‘Blackwater,’ as being two sides of the same coin,” Klein said.
“Jeremy was just zeroing in on the real mercenaries, the Blackwaters and these other private companies that showed up in the chaos and that were performing the role of the police, but of course, it wasn’t in the public interest. They were protecting corporations. They were protecting developers,” she said. “No one really knew what they were doing, and Jeremy was the first one to blow the whistle on that.”
Blowing the whistle on operations such as Blackwater, Scahill shows how the company — who also hired Chile veterans from dictator Augusto Pinochet’s reign — employed mercenaries to perform tasks of the U.S. soldiers. In theory, the work of Blackwater would supplement the work of the U.S. army; however, Blackwater’s agenda wasn’t purely patriotic. Its founder, the religious security kingpin Erik Prince, was interested in financial gain.
After all, “In Iraq, the postwar business boom is not oil. It is security,” says a Times of London piece.
This is clearly shown when four Blackwater contractors were ambushed and killed in Fallujah on March 31, 2004.
This tragedy could have been prevented if Blackwater better prepared these men, Scahill argues. The four contractors were “in the middle of the volatile city that morning, not to mention in SUVs, short-staffed and under-armed,” Scahill writes.
The “shock and awe” from this event allowed Blackwater to capitalize on the situation. The four deaths were used as Blackwater propaganda; the company was now able to sell more contracts.
And so, the War on Terror becomes another merchandise that can be packaged, shipped, expedited and marketed to all.
And while Blackwater’s winning contracts, people are losing lives.
Jeremy Scahill won an Izzy Award for Independent Media for his work on “Blackwater: the rise of the world’s most powerful mercenary army.”
To read my review on Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine,” click here.