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October 03, 2007

Blackwater undermines Petraeus
Posted by Max Bergmann

You know something is very very wrong in Iraq when the State Department - our nation’s DIPLOMATS - are at the center of an incident that not only has caused the deaths of 17 innocent Iraqis and which has fostered a major diplomatic rift between the U.S. and the Iraqi governments.

But it is not just that the overly aggressive and brazen tactics by Blackwater and other security contractors have created a diplomatic nightmare for the U.S., it is also that they have significantly undermined U.S. counter-insurgency efforts.

What makes counter-insurgency operations different from traditional operations is that they recognize that it is impossible to simply kill every insurgent. Therefore the focus is on both protecting the people and in restoring the people’s faith in their own government.

The actions of Blackwater and other security contractors clearly undermine both efforts.

First, they clearly undermine U.S. efforts to protect the population. The actions and tactics of Blackwater are about protecting their clients and themselves – not about protecting Iraqis. While U.S. soldiers and Marines must also protect themselves, their rules of engagement in counter-insurgency operations force them to act under considerable restraint. Page 22 of the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counter-Insurgency Field Manual - a document that General Petraeus played a central role developing - states:

“The More You Protect Your Force, The Less Secure You Are”

“The More Force is Used, The Less Effective It Is,”

“The More Successful COIN is, the Less Force That Can be Used and the More Risk That Must be Accepted”

Second, they undermine the Iraqi government and the counterinsurgency effort. Placing private security companies like Blackwater above the law, so that they face no sanctions or prosecutions for their actions, only makes the Iraqi government look weak and ineffective. This is incredibly harmful, as page 19 of the Army manual concludes:

“Illegitimate actions by government officials, security forces, and multinational partners are those involving the use of power without authority… Any human rights abuses or legal violations committed by U.S. forces quickly become known throughout the local population and eventually around the world because of the globalized media and work to undermine the COIN effort.”

While Blackwater may be undermining the efforts of our military, we can all be comforted by the fact that since Blackwater will be remaining in Iraq, the State Department will be able to continue to conduct their vital diplomatic efforts.


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Need we forget that Blackwater recruits directly from the US military further decimating our forces, as described in the documentary "Iraq for Sale". In it soldiers comment on the efforts of Blackwater, CACI, and others at recruitment into their ranks.

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