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Lies and Mercenaries

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: January 22, 2005
Latest Update: January 22, 2005

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Wait a minute. What's happening here? Mercenaries? Not the US Army? So I'm naive, but am I that naive? Python Swallows Bush by Laura Miller, of Salon, on Truthout, called my attention to the role of mercenaries in Iraq. In her interview with Terry Jones of London, who writes Op-Ed pieces for the Observer, and does Monty Python stuff, Laura Miller and Terry Jones had the following exchange:

[Terry Jones] "It's like the emperor's new clothes. People are making such stark, staring mad decisions and eventually other people just go along with it."

[Laura Miller] "Do you think people go along with it because the government just keeps repeating the mad rationale so forcefully over and over again?"

[Terry Jones] "Yes, but it's also the power of words. Words do eventually have an effect. If you keep repeating, "Security forces are putting down insurgents in Iraq," rather than saying "Our illegally occupying army is killing the freedom fighters in Iraq," people will actually start believing it. If we were in France in the Second World War, we'd be talking about brave resistance fighters stopping the illegal occupation of France. We would call the Vichy government quislings and collaborators. Whereas we're talking now about the great [Iyad] Allawi, who's just doing what the Americans want him to do. "Another one is the four "civilian contractors" whose murders prompted the attacks on Fallujah. They were mercenaries. They work for Blackwater, and if you go to Blackwater's Web site, it's really quite interesting. They offer two courses on sniping."

Remember we always insist that you check your sources. So I am grateful that Terry Jones gave this source, of which I'd never heard. And to be sure I knew what I was talking about, I went to Blackwater U.S.A. Oh, my goodness. I had no idea. I knew there were guns and mercenary magazines. But right there on the Internet? And we've read vaguely about "private security." Is this what private security means? And to whom do they answer?

Blackwater USA Traning grounds for SWAT Teams? Check out the Careers menu first:

    Notice that the wording is vague, but contains items like: Contract Administrator:

  • Provide acquisition team on routine contract and commercial issues.
  • Major areas of emphasis include coordination and structuring the contracting documents to reflect the commercial solution for small to intermediate level pursuits within the product region.
  • Bachelors Degree in Business or Engineering and at least 2 years experience in all contract documentation.

    No clue as to what the contracts are for, since Business and Engineering cover a wide field.

    But then, Targets Installer:

    Funny choice of words: target.

  • Communicates with the client to ensure contracted requirements are fulfilled during the installation of the target system.
  • Wires range and assembles parts used in the construction of the finished target system to include fitting, mounting, alignment, adjusting, operational testing, in-depth troubleshooting, diagnosing and repairing.
  • Reads and interprets instructions and documentation and plans work activities.

    Duh! What's the target?

Growing bored with the obfuscation, I went to another menu item: Academy. They have an academy. Maybe that will tell me what the "target" is. And so I clicked on Academy. Wow! I don't need words anymore.

Pictures from the Blackwater U.S.A. Academy

Discussion Questions

  1. What role does obfuscation play?

    Well, if we can have sanitized words like contract and target and construction and troubleshooting without ever saying specifically what we're talking about then we have an easier time maintaining the denial that we are talking about killing people. It's easier for those who make the contracts and for those who carry them out to say outrageous things without sounding outrageous. And if we the people want to be naive, they make it easy for us. i don't want to be that naive anymore. I'd rather see the coffins and hear my media talk about the Blackwater U.S.A groups, of which there must be others. They just opened two new offices, In Baghdad and Amman Jordan.

    Part of answerability is our right to raise our voices asking for an explanation. And part of our accountability is admitting that we are complicit if we stick our heads in the sand and do nothing, but say "My country, right or wrong."

  2. How does the concept of "My country, right or wrong" fit into our shared religious values?

    Gee, glad you asked. Been wanting to share a sermon with you: The 4th Sunday after PentecostBy The Very Rev. James H. Pritchett, Jr. July 6, 2003 (Ezekiel 2:1-5, Psalm 123, 2 Corinthians 12:2-10, Mark 6:1-13). Episcopal Church in Historic College Park, GA. The Anglican Communion in The United States. Backup.

    1. How does Rev. Pritchett describe the kingdom of God?

      "The greatest failure of the Church in the last two thousand years, I believe, is a failure of imagination, and the resulting failure of nerve. Jesus begins his ministry by proclaiming, "The kingdom of God is at hand." Agape, pure, unconditional love, walked among us and showed us the kingdom of God. Imagine that! And then imagine, because we must, agape infusing every part of society, agape being the norm. Imagine a world in which to deviate from unconditional love would be socially unacceptable, a faux pas. Itís hard, but, just for moment, just a glimpse, imagine a nation whose character is pure agape.

      "That would not mean its citizens could be irresponsible; that would not mean there would be no consequences. Far from it. Love sets boundaries, and people in community have obligations and duties. But that would mean a nation characterized by deep concern for the well being for every single one of its citizens, especially the "least of these." And it would mean a nation characterized by respect even for citizens of other nations (children of God all). It would mean a nation which could never allow itself to be motivated by greed, retribution, accumulation, class, race, status, or fear. It would mean a nation that refused to return evil for evil. It would mean a nation that prayed for its enemies.

    2. What is agape?

      "[I]n the New Testament, the fatherly love of God for man, as well as man's reciprocal love for God. The term necessarily extends to the love of one's fellow man." Encyclopedia Britannica Consulted on January 22, 2005.

      Agape Love: A Tradition Found in Eight World Religions By Sir John Templeton. "The universal theme of love is found in all religious traditions, whether Buddhist, Christian, Islam, or others. As we begin to realize that all religions have at their core this spiritual principle of love, we can develop a sense of common humanity. The religious tradition of agape love examined in this book will serve as an inspiration for those who are learning to grow in compassion and love for all people."

    3. What causes this approach to Others of lying and hatred?

      Karen Armstrong ( Battle for God, passim )speaks of the conservative and aggressive turn of fundamentalism as pre-modern. Fundamentalism looks backwards to its texts and to the time of a golden age. As Europe turned to industrialism and modernization, the individual was increasingly needed to invent new technology and to better the world of holding nature at bay for the benefit of humans. As individualism grew in strength, as rationalism and science and the enlightenmnet grew, those who sought to preserve tradition, which emcompassed mythos, and the spiritual, meaningful for most, part of the world, tradition, lost ground. This actually became a struggle for TRUTH, with truth defined by the modern as science and scientific objectivity (logos), and truth defined by the premodern as tradition and ritual (mythos).

      If one seeks primarily the truth of one's beliefs, one can be led to see lying as not obscuring or denying the truth, but as taking the steps which the masses cannot understand (for they are not on the same level of purity of belief and have not attained that divine moment), but which will ultimately lead them to be lifted up by God before the Apocalypse. Of course, this position also leads one to see that those whom one cannot bring along to agree with these beliefs will be condemned to hell fires. That is heardly forgiving and loving. And hard to explain, especially in those beliefs that espouse leaders who primarily teach agape for the kingdom of God. Unless we see that if one "knows" then one feels that it is OK to dictate the lives and beliefs of others to this extent. Karen Armstrong does an excellent analysis of this process with her analysis of Khomeini. (Ibid.)

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