Saturday, October 6, 2007

Fixing the Blackwater Mess: A Sign of American Strength

Iraqis are as good at passing along rumors as people anywhere else in the world. One sort of rumor there involves foreign mercenaries.

In this case, quite a few of the 'foreign mercenaries' are Americans: and many of those are employed by Blackwater, a firm that provides security guards and related services in Baghdad.

One type of rumor about 'foreign mercenaries' in Iraq had guards killing innocent Iraqis. Details, like where, when, and how many, varied, but the basic story was the same: 'Foreign mercenaries killed my neighbor.'

I pay attention to rumors, but I don't accept them as fact.

Then, last month, Blackwater employees killed a lot of Iraqis. In Baghdad. With surviving witnesses. I've written about this before: I don't have an opinion about whether the Americans who shot up a street-full of Iraqis are guilty of murder, or were defending themselves. I do think that an Iraqi court should sort out the mess.

I also think the U.S. State Department is being smart, dealing with security needs in Iraq, the reasonable desire of Iraqis to not get killed without reason, and a security company that's gotten the reputation of being trigger-happy mercenaries. And, maybe earned that reputation.

Condoleezza Rice has issued new orders for Blackwater:
  • Video cameras get mounted on Blackwater vehicles.
  • At least one federal agent rides with security contractors escorting diplomatic convoys.
  • Convoys Will maintain direct contact with tactical U.S. military teams in their vicinity.
This sounds like good news for Blackwater, in the long run: video cameras and at least one federal agent to confirm their actions after an attack; at least one federal agent and communications links to the U.S. military while an attack is happening.

Blackwater will be the only security company to have these benefits. Later, Dyncorp and Triple Canopy will be included. These companies work in north and south Iraq.

The U.S. State Department is reviewing all 56 shooting incidents involving Blackwater guards as part of a comprehensive investigation ordered by Rice.

I grieve with those who lost loved ones in the latest Baghdad shootout. That doesn't mean that I believe America should withdraw from the world and hope for the best.

America, Americans, and America's government make mistakes. Sometimes big ones. But, when we do, we don't walk away: We fix them. I see that as a strength.

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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.