blackwater in Iraq

New York Times. Source of Image.

Written by: Carlos Diaz. 

Private military contractors as they are called, are increasingly becoming reckless and self dependent. Mercenaries belonging to the private company Blackwater are under payed contract with the U.S. State Dept. for protecting American diplomats. But these contracts are not holding mercenaries accountable for their actions and behavior while performing what they are payed for. Blackwater mercenaries committed crimes such as the killing of 17 civilians in Iraq’s Nisour square. During their time in Iraq Blackwater mercenaries adopted  the social roles of a self-reliant military structure.

In the case of Blackwater’s presence in Iraq it was evident that private military contractors were superficial titles. Blackwater mercenaries engaged in acts of oppression such as detaining citizens by force, acts of violence such as the murdering of civilians, acts of autonomy such as breaking contracts with the State Dept with impunity. The supposed mercenaries social role of just performing a specific task under an outlined contract is quickly withering. The emergence of new social behavior comprised of tasks such as coercing civilians into doing things, is an indicator of the increasing influence mercenaries have on the lives of the civilians in the countries the contractors work in. For example there were reports of mercenaries spending their time in other often violent activities that affected Iraquis. The taking part in conflict and in people’s lives was a role usually adhered to soldiers serving for the country. Not only are mercenaries adopting similar roles to that of actual soldiers but they are departing from following orders from traditional power structures. The U.S. State Dept. is highly dependent on mercenary work, this is shown by the billions of dollars flowed to the hands of mercenaries. But this does not mean mercenaries are loyal to the government. During American intervention in Iraq, the manager of Blackwater threatened that he could kill the top government official overlooking his work and no one could do anything about it. The State department launched an investigation which concluded in the departure of top government officials who oversaw Blackwater. Instead of ousting Blackwater mercenaries, the government retreated their representatives. The vast amount of money received by Blackwater and their defiance of authority by breaking contracts, threatening government officials are signs of their increasing power and self- reliant military authority.

Mercenaries are not just performing the social roles of protecting government officials. Events involving Blackwater in Iraq demonstrated this. Their increasing influence, expanding monetary power, and autonomy may even lead to their deployment as actual soldiers. The social role of mercenaries is not just being paid to do a specific task such as protecting people; they are gaining influence in the everyday lives of people in foreign countries and even challenging powerful structures.