Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Blackwater USA: Not the Ideal Goodwill Ambassadors

It's not clear yet, what actually happened when Blackwater USA killed civilians recently. It sounds like the death toll is going up: a lot more than the 11 originally reported. The New York Times says that 20 civilians were killed.

Unlike many killings blamed on foreign contractors in Iraq, this one was "in downtown Baghdad with dozens of witnesses." Maybe that's just as well. I there's been abuse, this can't be ignored.

Living thousands of miles away, I'm willing to let the Iraqi government's investigation play itself out.

Quite a few Iraqis aren't so patient. Feelings are running so high that The United States has restricted American diplomats and civilian officials to the relative security of the Green Zone in Baghdad.

Muqtada al-Sadr, the "Sadr City" cleric, is demanding that the Iraqi government ban foreign security contractors: all 48,000 of them. With so many Iraqis as enraged as they are, he might get his way.

Al-Sadr said, "This aggression would not have happened had it not been for the presence of the occupiers who brought these companies, most of whose members are criminals and ex-convicts in American and Western prisons," in a statement.

Colorful fellow.

Something al-Sadr has going for him is that many Iraqis see the security contractors as mercenaries. They're about as popular as the Hessian mercenaries were in the English colonies in America, during the Revolutionary War.

Calling this a mess is an understatement.

My hope is that Iraqi authorities can sort this out quickly, get some sort of legal resolution that will satisfy most Iraqis, and get on with the business of putting a government together.

There's more about this at "Bad News from Iraq, with a Small Silver Lining." That silver lining looks really small now.

Not tarnished, though. The Iraqi government, fractured as it is, seems to be acting responsibly.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.