December 23, 2008 (the date of publication in Russian)
THE AMERICAN TARTUFFE. Part 1: PRIVATIZATION OF WAR
Blackwater's bloody guards: Dick Cheney's private army
BUSH AND CHENEY: ORGON AND TARTUFFE
The boot, hurled at George W. Bush by an Iraqi journalist, symbolically summarizes the net result of his eight-year rule. US mass media don't spare black paint in their coverage of Bush's Administration, accusing it of economic errors, ideological obscurantismand military inefficiency that have deprived America of moral leadership in international policy and made Washington a subject of hate and contempt in the view of the majority of the world's population.
These accusations are understandable but often largely simplistic. Since George W. Bush's first election campaign when he amused the globe with utter illiteracy not only in politics but even in geography, it has been obvious that this person was incapable for qualified decision-making.
Oscar Wilde, a master of paradox, wrote that only a superficial observer does not judge upon an individual's inner world by his appearance. Looking at Mr. Bush's face, one could hardly believe that this personality could be overwhelmed with some kind of idea. Concentration on ideas is a prerogative of a hero – a role for which Mr. Bush is an improper contender. In a Russian XIX-century provincial theater, such a person would rather be granted the role of a village ninny.
However, simplistic mind is typical not only for villagers. The type of a "parlor booby" is common for classical realistic literature, and sometimes contrasted to a witty peasant.
In Moliere's Tartuffe, the host of the noble house, Orgon, represents exactly the type of a "parlor booby". Being unable to make decisions, he entrusts them to an ostensibly humble and pious Tartuffe. The role of the real mastermind of policy, modestly hiding behind the curtains, has been lately performed in the world's largest power by Richard Bruce Cheney.
Suspicions of being overwhelmed with ideological obsessions can hardly be attributed to this person as well. Analyzing his eight-year vice presidency, we have to assume that neoconservatism has served for him rather as a convenient shield concealing the major – venal – motive of his activity.
In a humorous Polish TV program, "Political Theater", major politicians are invited to play roles from well known plays, selected in accordance with the person's character. In case Cheney was invited to this program, he would not have to make efforts for impersonation. He perfectly fits into Tartuffe’s role, and his performance is pretty convincing.
Cheney's contribution to Bush's rule – the most disastrous in the whole American history – is still to be assessed by a number of Congressional committees, the Department of Justice, the FBI, and other numerous institutions supposed to maintain "law and order".
In a piece entitled "Why Cheney really is that bad" on Truthdig website (August 2007), Scott Ritter, ex-DIA officer and UN weapons inspector in Iraq in 1991-98, portrayed the VP as the real evil "soul" of Bush's White House.
In Ritter's view, Dick Cheney represents a greater threat to American and international security than "the ghost of Saddam Hussein", Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Chong Il, the fabulous Al Qaeda, and the notorious Taliban. All the disastrous decisions of George W.Bush's Administration – like "the nonsensical response" to the 9/11 attack, the fraudulent intelligence used to justify the invasion in Iraq, the subsequent sabre-rattling around Iran, legitimization of mass torture, as well as authorization of warrantless wiretappings of U.S.-based communications, violating the Fourth Amendment’s provisions on search and seizure, were authored by Dick Cheney, reminds Ritter.
"Cheney has single-handedly steered America away from being a nation among nations (albeit superior), operating (roughly) in accordance with the rule of law, and toward its present manifestation as the new Rome, a decadent imperial power bent on global domination whatever the cost". Thus, according to Ritter, the country has found itself in a constitutional crisis unprecedented since the Civil War. The author wonders why the Congress is so dumb about this crisis and generally about Cheney's crimes.
It looks really strange that numerous US politicians, lawyers and journalists, lamenting about Cheney's vicious role for the international reputation of their country, are unable to add two to two and summarize the real motives of his decision-making.
Even after British papers published materials exposing Randy Schoeneman, John McCain's foreign policy advisor, of promoting Mikhail Saakashvili's political interests on the Potomac, US journalists and experts failed to elaborate on this subject beyond hints on Cheney's personal involvement in management of related shadowy finances.
Why don't Americans believe in corruption on the level of the second person of the Administration? Are they so naively puritan? In any case, it is hard to admit that someone provides paid audiences without making any profit of this practice.
THESE PERSONS WERE GOING TO RUN THE WORLD
According to Jeremy Scahill's book "Blackwater: The rise of the world's most powerful mercenary army", the personnel of private security companies is almost as numerous in Iraq and Afghanistan as that of the US regular troops.
The increased involvement of private guard companies in the US operations in both countries was officially explained with necessity to guarantee personal security of diplomats and officials, as well as top managers of private companies delivering food and other vital commodities. It was also acknowledged that private companies also guarantee security of top officials of Iraq's new "democratic" government. Their assistance was particularly required for construction of the new compound of the US Embassy in Iraq, designed as the world's largest diplomatic office (see THE HEADQUARTERS OF COLONIAL MANAGEMENT). For this purpose, Washington’s proconsul Paul Bremer addressed several companies, including Blackwater – the company which then provided personal security for Mr. Bremer himself.
Blackwater USA (presently Blackwater Worldwide) was founded in 1997 in Moyock, North Carolina. Its name originates from the gloomy Great Dismal Swamp in the vicinity of the 7000-acre training ground. The swamp, having a status of a natural reserve, covers a territory of 111,000 acres, extending to Virginia, where most US intelligence services have their headquarters.
Eric Prince, the company's owner, is a former serviceman of the Navy Seals (abbreviated from Sea, Air and Land) – an analogue of Marines, supposed to carry out a broad range of tasks, from anti-guerilla operations to liberation of hostages. Since the time of foundation, the camp in Moyock has been supplied with most advanced equipment, and personnel with SEALS background.
The April 1999 tragedy in Columbine High School, where two students assassinated twelve schoolmates and a teacher, was used by Eric Prince as a pretext for opening a special facility for training policemen. This was a profitable investment, corresponding with the ascending trend. With increase of the number of students, the private company extracted higher incomes from training.
Typically for a well-managed private company, Blackwater improved its major business and sought expansion in new areas of services. However, the success of its bid for assisting to military and civil authorities in Iraq was rather due to unofficial patronage than to fair competition.
Blackwater's foreign expansion was a result of outsourcing of services that used to be carried out by the US Army's logistical detachments. This practice was pioneered by Dick Cheney yet in his capacity of Defense Secretary in George H. W. Bush’s Administration. The process of outsourcing started with logistics and supply, being substantiated with the possibility of saving more personnel for immediate military tasks during the 1991 Gulf War.
During a decade, the ratio of soldiers and private personnel in war areas changed from 9:1 to 1:1. Privatization rapidly increased after the return of the Republican Party to power in 2000. The expedience of freeing soldiers from auxiliary tasks was actively propagandized by VP Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.
In the period between the tenure of Defense Secretary and nomination as Vice President, Dick Cheney chaired Halliburton Corp., a private company fulfilling major orders for army supplies. This background visibly benefited Cheney after 9/11 when the whole US machine of war was launched for pulverizing the Afghan Talibs and the regime of Saddam Hussein, and especially after it became clear that the number of regular servicemen is insufficient, while the marionette regimes require permanent security assistance. In fact, the business of the company, earlier chaired by Dick Cheney, was the more profitable, the less the US Army was efficient.
The close personal acquaintance of Dick Cheney and Eric Prince elevated Blackwater to the major league of American business. Already in 2000, after the assault on a US sip in Yemen, Blackwater launched anti-terrorist training for the needs of the Navy. After 9/11, the training base was also used by anti-terrorist detachments of US special services.
Today, the influence of Blackwater is so high that the elected President will hardly avoid using its service. Blackwater's contingent, deployed in Baghdad, exceeds the total number of guards, providing security for State Dept officials worldwide.
The Moyock-based company also fulfils a number of other tasks. Bush's Administration used it for training Georgian and Azeri spetsnaz, thus avoiding official protests from Russia which would be inevitable in case the relevant tasks were fulfilled by the US Army instructors. At the same time, Prince's company implements Pentagon's programs in a number of other regions, including South America, where the company is involved in the excessively financed "anti-drug policies".
In the process of expansion, Blackwater established its own intelligence division, employing a number of high-rank retired officers of CIA and other state offices. One of them, Cofer Black, has a background of 30 years of intelligence work as well as the post of anti-terror coordinator in Bush's Administration in 2002-04. Cofer Black has become famous after 9/11 as the person who had unsuccessfully advised Clinton's Administration to get rid of Osama bin Laden.
Blackwater, with its record of "security" work in Sudan in late 1990s, also offered its service (including use of its ship named General McArthur) for safeguarding the trade fleet from assaults of Somalian pirates in 2007.
Beside "General McArthur", Blackwater disposes a huge potential of privately owned aircrafts, helicopters, and UAVs. It also produces mine-resistant "Grizzly" armored machines, withstanding a hit of Soviet-made RPG-7 grenades and therefore enjoying high demand both in Iraq and Afghanistan. This achievement of modern military technology is heavily advertised (see www.youtube.com/watch?v=wptq4JdjpcI).
In 2007, Eric Prince and the company's current president Gary Jackson claimed that Blackwater's potential was sufficient to replace the UN peacekeepers, acting more promptly and efficiently than the professional army. Replacement of the regular army with mercenary units, as they emphasize, would help to rescue thousands of people who have to spend months waiting until UNSC members coordinate peacekeeping missions. As a positive example, they mention the operation in Darfur, Sudan (where hundreds of thousands people were killed and millions displaced). Thus, a private division of mercenaries claims to be ready to intervene at any moment on a contract with Pentagon, or NATO. Among other tasks, Prince and Jackson offer their services of securing the contemplated Nabucco pipeline, designed to deliver Caspian oil along a route bypassing Russia.
AN INDULT FOR ARBITRARY EXECUTION
Blackwater's adherence to methods, earlier used in Darfur, eventually exceeded the limits of patience of Iraq's Government that used its service for several years. The mercenaries used fire without special reasons, using the immunity from Iraqi law. In summer 2007, a drunken serviceman of the company killed a bodyguard of Iraq's Vice Prime Minister, but safely escaped from the country on a private jet. In September 2007, several other Blackwater's security guards killed 17 Iraqi citizens in Baghdad. A group of investigators, deployed by FBI, stated that 14 of the victims were not involved in any wrongdoings.
Eventually, Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki deprived Blackwater of the state license, and insisted on revision of the contract, now under the condition of amenability to national justice.
A month after the bloody incident, the US Congress published an official report revealing that during two years, Blackwater's personnel had been involved in 200 skirmishes, in 80% being the first side to open fire. Today, five servicemen of the company are under trial. "We are happy that this company's men will be punished", said Iraqi Government's spokesman Ali al Dabbagh. The suspects, decorated with US state awards, are facing punishment up to 30 years of custody.
(To be continued)
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