Saturday, January 24, 2009


The latest book I've finished reading is Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army by Jeremy Scahill.
In the last decade the U.S. has increasingly been using private contractors to assist in its efforts to wage war. The spin that is given from Washington is that the contractors are just "providing security" and not actually involved in combat. Scahill clearly documents that these "contractors" are indeed involved in combat and in some cases even commanding enlisted members of the U.S. military.
The most disturbing fact about Blackwater is that they believe themselves to be above any law. They are quick to point out that as contractors they are not subject to the military justice system. They symultaniously claim that since the Pentagon counts them among the U.S total force that makes them immune from any civilian prosecution in the counties they operate, including the U.S.. So who do they answer too? They see themselves as above any laws besides their own company policies.
Scahill goes in depth into the leadership and history of Blackwater. The U.S. has officially claimed that the war in Iraq is a war against terrorism and not a religous war. This point seems to have escaped the leadership of Blackwater. Many of them are members of the Knights of Malta who still believe that the crusades are continuing and they claim to be gaurdians of the Christian hold lands in the Middle East.
The book was very scary. I found the book to be very well researched and I agree with most of the conclusions he has reached.
A few criticisms of the book:
Scahill's style is a little polarizing. He uses politically charged buzz words like "neo-con" frequently. That's surely his right, however his bias probably causes some folks who would have otherwise read it to put it down. A few of Scahill's conclusions were based on circumstaial evidence. He discloses this openly, but I question the ethics of including the conclusions at all without direct evidence.
I actually found much of the book to be rather repetative. Scahill seemed to have written several paragraphs to describe certian organizations, like the Knights of Malta and then inserted the same paragraphs all throughout the book whenever those organizations were mentioned. The result was that each chapter read as if they were separate stand alone articles and not one continuous book.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who is concerned about the details of how the U.S. is fighting the war on terror. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the the U.S. presence in Iraq. This book will have you seriously questioning the decision to fight this war with civilian mercinaries.

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