Mercenaries in Iraq: A Letter to Bernie Ward

April 23rd, 2004 - by admin

Clive Leeman – 2004-04-23 09:25:19

Dear Bernie Ward:

We spoke on the phone last night about the thousands of mercenaries who are operating in Iraq. You will find two short articles on the subject copied below, one by Robert Fisk of the London Independent, the other by Barry Yeoman, writing in Mother Jones.

The four “contractors” who died in Falloujah yesterday were employed by Blackwater USA, founded in 1998 by Gary Jackson, an ex-Navy Seal, who wants to build “the largest private army in the world” (Democracy Now interview with Yeoman, April 1, 2004).

Blackwater was awarded a $21 million NO BID contract to provide security guards (read “mercenaries”) and two helicopters for U.S. Proconsul Paul Bremer (Yeoman interview).

Apparently, a “privatized soldier” can earn as much as $1,000 a day for service in places like Falloujah (Fisk article).

In a Democracy Now interview yesterday, Robert Fisk described the loutish behaviour of mercenaries living in the Baghdad hotel he stays in (he elaborates in the article copied below) and said that he and his fellow journalists in the hotel feared this behaviour was so inflammatory that they were all in danger of being targeted by the Iraqis.

He describes how many of these mercenaries are Chileans who worked for the Pinochet dictatorship and lawbreaking South Africans, some of whom are arrested on their return to South Africa.

I mentioned to you last night my encounters with South African mercenaries when I was a reporter in South Africa and how they delighted in displaying atrocity photographs. They were psychopaths, in my opinion, and I wonder today about the mentality of these other mercenaries in Iraq.

I’m inclined to believe that there is essentially no difference between the white supremacist beliefs of those South Africans and the Anglo-American supremacist beliefs of the present occupiers of Iraq.

And I’ve no doubt that the people of Iraq are fully aware of this.

When US Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt says of the people of Falloujah, “We will put them in their place,” and George Bush talks about “the civilized nations of the world,” they sound just like South Africa’s architect of apartheid, Hendrik Verwoerd, who saw blacks as requiring subjugation and whites as guardians of “Christian civilization.”

A final footnote:

In Fallouja last week, newly deployed US marines shot and killed nine civilians and wounded 30, some of them women and children. According to a retired Iraqi engineer living in Baghdad, this attack enraged the inhabitants of the city and inflamed some of them beyond reason into committing yesterday’s atrocities (Democracy Now interview, April 1, 2004).

We forget, because the movie Black Hawk Down conveniently ignored it, the terrible scene in Mark Bowden’s book Black Hawk Down of US marines breaking into a meeting of Somali elders and slaughtering all of them one week before the downing of the US helicopter and the atrocity which followed.

Deja vu?