Many people believe they are educated on the recent war in Iraq. Many US citizens believe that after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, United States military invaded Iraq with the goal of capturing Saddam Hussein. The key part of that perception that I’m going to focus on in this blog post is the United States soldiers. The men who invaded Iraq in 2001 may have started out as United States soldiers, but it was not always members of the United States who fought on behalf of the country during the war. Over time, the war in Iraq developed into a war that heavily involved mercenaries and contractors who were hired by the United States to fight in Iraq. Major contractors who sent soldiers to fight for the United States included Blackwater, G4S, and Academi. Each of these companies sent a significant amount of trained soldiers to Iraq to fight in the name of the United States in exchange for money. Many of the soldiers were American, but many were also from foreign countries. During the Iraq war, Academi recruited a large number of their soldiers from Latin American countries. Regardless of where they were from, they all worked for Academi, were well trained, and had their military services bought out by the US during the time of war.
Contractors from these companies were responsible for creating social chaos in Iraq during the war. From the viewpoint of Iraqi citizens, the contractors’ roles were simply to kill and create chaos. The United States and British governments completely underestimated the Iraqi citizens’ hatred towards US military contractors. They were
essentially granted a license to kill and knew that they were under the same legal immunity as the United States soldiers were while they were in Iraq. Many of them looked down upon Iraqi citizens and were suspicious of any Iraqi citizens’ activities. In the most famous example of this, Blackwater contractors killed seventeen Iraqi civilians in Baghdad. Iraqi citizens essentially looked at these contractors with terror. In their eyes, these were not soldiers who were trained by their countries. They were freelance men who viewed Iraqis as inferior and would not hesitate to accuse any of them of crimes or kill them. They viewed the contractors as uncontrollable because they were just as protected by the law as the US soldiers and would likely not be held responsible for their actions as a result. So essentially, one of their major social roles during the Iraqi war, whether they intended for it or not, was to cause fear and chaos. Whether it was planned or not, contractors served a social role of controlling Iraqi citizens because of the fear that they installed in them.
Another social role that military contractors played in the Iraq war was playing the role of scapegoat. According to first hand accounts, United States soldiers would stay clear of contractors whenever they were carrying out any actions that could be considered questionable. Contractors would fire into engine blocks of vehicles that they perceived as coming too close. They would do so with no warning and most of the time with no justification. When this happened, the United States would not have to take responsibility for their actions. They could easily point the finger at the contracting companies and say that they were not trained by the United States military and they did not endorse or order their actions. This way, the United States could keep control over Iraqi citizens by installing fear in them and wouldn’t even have to take responsibility for doing so in the public eye. Many contractors even got into standoffs with Iraqi police units and sometimes killed officers. But once again, the United States could simply point out these were not soldiers that they had trained and did not intend for things like this to happen.
During the Iraqi war, military contractors who fought for the United States played the social roles of creating fear amongst Iraqi citizens, causing chaos, and playing the role of scapegoat so that the United States did not have to take responsibility for extreme actions.