Re "In defense of Blackwater," Opinion, Oct. 3
Max Boot claims that mercenaries are a fact of war, echoing testimony by the Blackwater USA founder that the U.S. has relied on contractors for all its wars. Both are spin. We may have a history of hiring private contractors to support such non-battle duties as cooking, laundry and transportation, but we have never before hired heavily armed mercenaries to engage in combat in war zones. Blackwater and others were not hired by the Defense Department nor commanded by the military. They were hired by the State Department, which lacks the expertise and legal authority to raise and manage armies.
The Bush administration initiated this action in secret, yet no one objected until Iraq tried to exercise its alleged sovereignty and expel Blackwater. We don't need more oversight; we need a return to the rule of law and the return of all soldiers to military control.
Boot states that the military does not like private security companies because employees make more money than the military. Perhaps Boot should see what happens after Blackwater opens fire on Iraqis and leaves the carnage for the military to clean up. Perhaps he should serve in one of the battalions trying to win Iraqis' hearts and minds and try to explain why Iraqi women and children have been killed by Blackwater. Our military is left to try to explain the actions of these mercenaries who follow no rules or regulations and appear to be answerable to no one. No employee has been found criminally liable. The Department of Justice has not done anything.