Tuesday, April 06, 2004

What Are Those Scum Doing Here?

By now, everyone's been around the bend on this issue with the four dead Mercenaries in Fallujah. And Yes, I said Mercenaries, not "Contractors". Contractors are who you hire when you want to add a deck to your house. Mercenaries are who you hire when you want to invade a sovereign nation under dubious pretexts and steal all their oil. Playing Orweallian name games doesn't magically make the cluster-fuck in Mesopotamia any better, no matter what the wingers might say. The Iraqis now officially hate us and they have every right to. We invaded their country for no good reason, and then hired goons who thought the regular Military wasn't bad-ass enough for them and decided to answer that add in the back of Soldier of Fortune magazine:

Illegitimate Politico seeks amoral anarcho-capitalists for long term "Contract Work."
Military background a plus. Must have own gun, rocket launcher. All the
gold and Arab girls you can carry. No Homos need apply. Call 202-456-1414. Ask for Dick.

Now, technically, they aren't Mercenaries, either. As George Paine at War Blogging points out:

Article 47 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions states six tests that are required to determine if a person is or is not a mercenary. The Blackwater employees meet all but one of the criteria: they are nationals of a party to the conflict (the United States) and therefore cannot be considered mercenaries.

Mercenaries are rather nationals of third-party states who engage in hostilities purely for profit. They are not motivated by ideology or national loyalty. They simply fight for the highest bidder.

The trend in the liberal media, from the Guardian to the Voice, is to call the Blackwater employees mercenaries. The word "mercenary" holds some very strong implications and power and should not be bandied around lightly. The fact is that the Blackwater employees were not mercenaries and should not be referred to as such.

But the Blackwater employees do share one thing in common with their murderers, and with the men languishing in the cages of Guantanamo Bay: They were illegal combatants.

This is because the Blackwater "security guards" do not wear uniforms clearly identifying them as combatants. They instead wear civilian clothes while engaging in combat. The photograph leading this story, of a Blackwater USA security guard serving in L. Paul Bremer's bodyguard force, makes this clear. The man is carrying an assault rifle while wearing civilian clothes.

He is, therefore, an illegal combatant รณ just like the un-uniformed Afghans and Arabs "detained" at Gitmo.

To be a mercenary, you must be a third party to the war, not a citizen of one of the countries involved in the conflict. But calling them contractors is disingenuous, as it implies some sort of legitimacy to their position. Calling them mercenaries may not be technically accurate but it's far closer to the reality than calling them contractors. Either way, that these scum make up the second largest contingent of Coalition forces just underscores the moral duplicity that our leaders have engaged in to pursue their little adventure.

The only difference between the employees of Blackwater Security Services and John Walker Lindh is that one was fighting for personal spiritual reasons (however dubious they were) while the others are fighting for money. Tough call between which is worse, a religious fanatic or a mercenary. But neither should be employed by the US Government, for any reason.


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