Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Blackwater News Means More Support Withdrawal
The Iraq story that has captured the airwaves since the Petraeus testimony was the shooting rampage by Blackwater guards which killed 17 Iraqi civilians. The massive coverage attendant with that massacre has led to a marked decline in support for keeping the war going until... well until whatever it is that passes for victory this month is attained, despite the cheer leading effort given by Petraeus.
What it boils down to is that Americans don't appreciate having Americans randomly massacring civilians, be they in the military or private security guards funded by the State Department.
All of the focus on Blackwater has brought the role that private contractors play in the war under scrutiny, and that role is substantial. The Bush administration surged both American combat forces, and private security forces into Iraq early this year. The political battles have been all fought over troop levels, but it took a massacre to bring public attention to the private army Bush has employed in his needless quagmire. It is time for the Congress go beyond trying to bring these mercenaries under the rule of law, and start seriously questioning the billions of dollars being spent to finance them. If the Congress cuts off funding for Blackwater, let the right wing howl about not funding the mercenaries!
Some try to make the case that if we who argue for withdrawing our military do not want to have American military forces stationed in Iraq that this protection must be provided by someone, ie private security guards. This is a false choice. One presumes when arguing for a withdrawal from Iraq that the plan is not to replace our military with private contractors. The purpose of withdrawal is to let the various sides in Iraq reach their own understandings, not to replace one western occupation with another by contractor proxies. It goes without saying that a pullout doesn't mean just taking the troops but leaving all the civilian aid workers and governmental liaisons behind.
In the meantime, Blackwater may not be covered by those pesky laws and regulations, but they would be well served to consider what their little rampage did to public attitudes regarding the Iraq war, as proven by the latest Rasmussen poll.
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