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Return to Book Page. Preview — Blackwater by Jeremy Scahill. On September 16, , machine gun fire erupted in Baghdad's Nisour Square, leaving seventeen Iraqi civilians dead, among them women and children.
The shooting spree, labeled "Baghdad's Bloody Sunday," was neither the work of Iraqi insurgents nor U. The shooters were private forces working for the secretive mercenary company, Blackwater Worldwide. This is the e On September 16, , machine gun fire erupted in Baghdad's Nisour Square, leaving seventeen Iraqi civilians dead, among them women and children. This is the explosive story of a company that rose a decade ago from Moyock, North Carolina, to become one of the most powerful players in the "War on Terror.
Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. Published March 8th by Nation Books first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Blackwater , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews.
Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. I had no idea the depth of antagonism toward the Clinton election evinced by such stalwarts as Scalia, Colson, Dobson, et al who, in public statements, suggested that any ruler, elected or otherwise, who was not following the divine mandate as they understood it to be, deserved to be overthrown, violently if necessary.
The level of their vitriol is astonishing. Place the rise of Erick Prinz's private army, the Blackwater folks, and you have a scarry scenario, since Prinz and his family were in the forefront of support for these guys. Support for privatization of military support had begun with Cheney and Rumsfeld long before their Bush the 2nd years as they reduced the military budget.
Cheney's connections to Halliburton and KBR made his motivation suspect since they would be primary beneficiaries of government largess for such a scheme. There is no question that the Blackwater "mercenaries" I think they meet the standard definition of the word and Blackwater hired many non-US nationals, so why quibble unless you are trying to obfuscate. The biggest concern I have after reading this book is that the United States government had ceded foreign policy to a corporate entity.
Clearly, the Blackwater folks had a very broad mandate in their charge to protect civilians. They could interpret that charge in any way they saw fit and we all know that a good offense is the best defense.
The military, whose soldiers made about a fifth of the mercenary salary, were often forced to come to the aid of the Blackwater folks who might have begun a larger engagement in a situation, where, for policy reasons, the US government or military did not want to engage troops. That the mercenaries had been specifically exempted from the standard rules of engagement which applied to the military could only make things worse.
This included the use of non-standard weapons. One Blackwater type admitted to using "blended metal bullets" which made virtually any impact fatal. In its infinite wisdom, the administration Bremer decided to make contractors immune from any prosectution for crimes committeed while in Iraq while performing their role under contract. That gave them virtual license to do whatever they wanted since Bremer had also ruled that the Uniform Code of Military Justice also did not apply.
In addition, Congress and the administration permitted them to conduct their business in secret since they were private companies and even managed to vote down an anti-war-profteering bill proposed by Senator Leahy. Now think about that, they were saying, in essence, go ahead and make all the money you want, however you want, and screww the government all you want, because we say it's OK. Let's face it, it's all about money. Rumsfeld and Cheney wanted most of the cost of the war off the books, they didn't want any kind of draft that would have forced the US to take a close look at their policies, they wanted their companies Halliburton and Blackwater - a major Republican contributor to make a shitload of money, which they have.
Not only that, but these private armies became instruments of hidden policy. The "Caspian Guard" operation used Blackwater troops to guard the oil pipeline through Georgia after the US helped to subvert the government of Eduard Amvrosiyevich Shevardnadze during the so called Rose Revolution in favor of Mikheil Nikolozis dze Saakashvili because the former wasn't pro-US enough. Using these private armies, I believe, carries significant risks for the United States.
Should they be attacked, it's most likely whatever administration is in power would come under enormous pressure to send in the troops.
Not only that, but the companies insist they are not responsible for benefits for the families of those killed while under contract. That's the US government's job. So we get screwed twice. It's time for a serious debate on the role of private contractors as instruments of foreign policy, and I suggest it may go beyond the military's impact.
Clearly corporations with a large presence in a foreign country will have a decidedly different view of US hegemony and imperialism than Washington. So here I am reading this book and a thought springs to mind. What organization in the United States would have the manpower, the most to lose, the true belief, and the money to engage in regime change in the United States. Nah, I must be just paranoid, right? View all 24 comments. Jul 05, Joshua rated it liked it Recommends it for: people with a conscience.
Okay, first some literary criticism. And I hate to do this, because I saw Jeremy Scahill speak a few months ago and I genuinely liked him.
He's brilliant, he obviously knows what's going on in the world, he's a first-class investigative journalist, a crusader for the truth, and I sincerely applaud him for what he does.
But, though the story of Blackwater is gripping, chilling, and more than just a little sinister more on that later , I have to honestly say that carrying around this book and rea Okay, first some literary criticism. But, though the story of Blackwater is gripping, chilling, and more than just a little sinister more on that later , I have to honestly say that carrying around this book and reading it over the course of about a month was more of a burden than a joy. Yes, of course there's nothing about it that should make one feel joy, and maybe it had more to do with my state of mind at the time, but something about the actual style and mode of writing turned me off.
Fact thrown upon fact thrown upon fact, reinforced by supporting facts, and somewhat long and convoluted digressions of even more facts thrown in just to make sure the reader is paying attention.
Yes, we get it, you did your research. But the story itself--and the dramatic pacing specifically--suffer because of this never-ending barrage of facts. Yes, again, I understand this is nonfiction--not the latest Michael Crichton political thriller--and maybe others feel differently, but reading this book was like trudging through mud, or wading in quicksand, or stumbling up all flights of stairs in the Sears Tower dragging a ball and chain: you know it's going to be cool when you get to the top and finally grasp the enormity of the panoramic landscape spread out before you, but it was one tough climb getting there.
Maybe I'm being too critical. I sure hope Mr. Scahill doesn't read this. Don't get me wrong, I am disturbed by the fact that our government is semi-secretly building a corporate army the new "Praetorian Guard" as the author calls it to loyally serve the far right, that this army seems so far to be impervious to any attempt to hold it accountable for its actions in the way that the actual military is to some degree anyway , etc.
Even writing a review of this book has drained me to the point where I just throw an "et cetera" at the end of my sentence because I don't feel like going on anymore. I'll end on this note: of all the frightening, alarming, horrific things this book touches upon, if one thing really stands out in my mind it is this: what incentive does a private, profit-driven mercenary army have to create and maintain peace and democracy, and to eradicate suffering and anarchy?
Oh yeah, the same incentive that our current government has--none, to be exact. And that is scary. So, thank you Mr. Scahill for your hard work and dedication in exposing this story and bringing it to a mass audience. I promise I will never again say a bad word about you.
View all 7 comments. Jul 11, Jeremy rated it did not like it. Yes, I read the whole book. Painfully so. No, I don't think it was worth my time or money. Like many other reviewers, I bought this book hoping to get a historical perspective on the Blackwater company.
Instead, I got a heavily biased opinion piece on the US Government's use of military contractors. Scahill cites many quotes and facts in his book, but most of these are from heavily biased liberal writers or publications, and most of these cited works are opinion pieces, not factual evidence.
Worse Yes, I read the whole book. Worse yet, Scahill himself admits he didn't research or write most of this book, rather one of his graduate assistants did read the foreward. The author strays off topic repeatedly, droning on about the influence of the religious right within the US Government, or about other contractors besides Blackwater.
The total factual information about Blackwater contained in this book could have easily been condensed down to pages or less.
Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army
Covers the rise of mercenaries, exemplified by Blackwater, who are receiving very large amounts of money to keep the peace in hotspots around the world. Of course, while Blackwater's owner and senior A comprehensive and a bit shocking overview of Blackwater and the privatization of our military capabilities. Jeremy Scahill.
The Journal: Jeremy Scahill on Blackwater
It won one of the George Polk Awards. The book details the rise of Blackwater USA , a private military company , and the growth of security contracting in the Iraq War and the War on Terrorism. In the book, Scahill contends that Blackwater exists as a mercenary force, and argues that Blackwater's rise is a consequence of the demobilization of the US military following the Cold War and its overextension in Iraq and Afghanistan. He describes further how Blackwater at the time of writing serves in Iraq and Afghanistan like, in his judgement, a Praetorian Guard , protecting top authority figures and enjoying immunity from the usual constraints and regulations on traditional armies. Scahill argues that Blackwater's leadership was motivated by a right-wing Republican ideology, and that its founder, Erik Prince , has provided significant assistance in that venue.