by Ari Rutenberg
Finally the Iraqis have done what hey should have been doing ever since their sovereignty was "returned" by the American government... they have revoked the operating license of Blackwater USA, the notorious mercenary corporation (the U.S. calls them security contractors, the reality is they are soldiers for hire, or even corporate militias if you want to use the terminology of this conflict). These 'militias' are used by the Americans to protect non-military assets and high-profile individuals, including the top U.S. diplomats and representatives in Iraq.
They are almost completely unregulated by any government or set of rules except their own. They have the same access to resources as the U.S. military, and many are former members thereof. They are also notorious for killing civilians and opening fire on U.S. and Iraqi forces. Those acts have gone with out recourse or punishment. All of that is about to end, at least if the Iraqi government get its way.
As reported by The New York Times today
"Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Adul-Karim Khalf said "We have canceled the license of Blackwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory. We will also refer those involved to Iraqi judicial authorities" due to an incident today in which "eight civilians were killed and 13 were wounded when contractors believed to be working for Blackwater USA opened fire in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood of western Baghdad."
It is a small ray of hope to see the Iraqis begin to stand up for themselves against the insanity imposed upon them by the U.S. government. Finally there is a bit of reason being forced into this debate. There never has been and is not currently any good justification for this kind of blatantly illegal mercenary warfare.
They only reason they are there is because Bush and Cheney figured out how to fund the military-industrial complex without actually having to put money into the government. This is due to their ideological opposition to the efficacy of government, even the military, rather than nay rational argument. I remain shocked that a government that believes itself to be sovereign (Iraq) would allow such groups to operate within their borders for so long in such a brutal and counterproductive way. That being said this seems to be a case of better late the never.
This action by the Iraqis, as well as the changing sentiment in both America and Iraq , seems to me to be the beginning of the resolution of this war. That doesn't mean that I believe the U.S. should stay or that I think this is going to end, or even get substantially better in the near future. I do think that actions like this will help push sentiment in the places that matter to a point at which everyone agrees it is time for the U.S. to go. Though I personally think it will get worse immediately after the U.S. leaves, once they are gone the catalyst for much of the violence will have been removed. It will be the first genuine chance for them to use their 5000 years of history and cultural wisdom to solve their own problems, which though we may have helped created we are clearly incapable of solving. I hope for the best for these unfortunate people. and I would really like to be able to visit the cradle of civilization and the birthplace of law, and of Abraham, before too long. But before that can happen, we need to stop interfering in their affairs and stop allowing our mercenaries to terrorize their civilians.