Justiz, Charles

Historically, mercenaries have been viewed as “loose cannon” soldiers, only participating in conflict for their own personal gain. In modern American warfare, mercenaries take on a different appearance. “Private security corporations” are employed by the United States government for aid in overseas combat. Blackwater, a “private security services contractor,” made headlines in 2007 when a group of the hired mercenary agents killed seventeen Iraqi civilians in Baghdad. In a controversial turn of events, Blackwater continued to provide the United States government with their services under multiple different name changes, currently operating under the company name of “Academi.”

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“Blackwater Security detail on the street outside the Karbala Women’s Rights Center”
(Image Source: http://thelionofbabylon.com/images/600_Bremer_4.JPG)

As I understand it, the social role of mercenary soldiers in modern American warfare is a sort of tool to space the armed forces from the atrocities committed in the name of combat. Through hiring a third party to participate in active combat, any war crimes committed can be attributed to the contractor as opposed to the Government participating in the conflict. The contractors operate outside of the law and are able to participate in operations that the US government can not necessarily condone of its own forces. When the media reports on the group’s actions, the third party can also conveniently change their name any time, as shown through Blackwater’s multiple name changes from “Blackwater Security Company” to “Blackwater Worldwide” to “Xe Services LLC,” to “Academi.”

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