Monday, May 28, 2007

Blackwater: Christian Right Praetorian Guard?

Recently I have been reading up about Blackwater, a "private security firm" that is contracted with the US military in Iraq and elsewhere. Blackwater was founded by right wing Christian Erik Prince, a multimillionaire trust fund baby who decided to make his own money by building a private army he could lease out to the rich and powerful, including the US state. The war in Iraq has thousands of Blackwater private security guards (read mercenary) who are paid 4 to 5 times more than US army regulars and who are not subject to the military code of justice. It has been reported by Jeremy Scahill that Blackwater mercenaries are guilty of random and unjustified violence against Iraqi citizens. When Blackwater mercenaries indiscriminately kill Iraqis, Iraqi's become angry and resist, taking out their anger on US soldiers on the ground.

O.K., now the disturbing part to this story. As stated before, Blackwater is a private mercenary army founded by a right wing Christian Fundamentalist (CFs). CFs believe that they are God's children surrounded by wicked people who deserve to be violently punished by an angry deity. Christian fascists, as Chris hedges calls them, believe they are the agents to prosecute the violent Deity's holy plans. CFs believe, literally, that the Iraq war is part of a cosmic struggle of God vs. Satan (kinda like a WWF match 'Hulk Hogan vs. the Iron Sheik'). The Iraq war is only a staging ground for a much larger conflict already underway, leading to the 'Battle of Armageddon'.

Muslims are not the only perceived enemy of CFs. A long list of wicked people including secular humanists, liberals, feminists, homosexuals, ACLU members, abortion doctors, university professors, and other heathen are on the list of violent retribution for straying from God's will. CFs are taught by angry fire and brimstone evangelical preachers to prepare for the coming bloodshed. It is the duty of God's children to be ready to fight the holy war against the infidels (doesn't that sound familiar?!) I am wondering if writers like Chris Hedges is right. Is Blackwater a private CF army operating within the United States, readying itself to be a modern version of the Roman Praetorian Guard? Is Blackwater enriching and arming itself at the expense of the US state in an effort to protect its messianic elders from the coming chaos they perceive to already be in play? Remember, Blackwater has jets, helicopters, rockets, heavy machine guns and the ideological favor of an estimated 1/4 to 1/3 of the United States populace.

We need to think carefully about allowing a large private military to arise at state expense (our tax dollars) within the United States. It is possible that ideological extremists, such as CFs, could be preparing themselves for taking over the US state and imposing a radical theological state on all of us at gunpoint. These folks are open about their views of the "rapture" and what their roles are within this cosmic struggle. They believe that future chaos is inevitable and that all of us who do not believe in their views are subject to God's wrath. This wrath that is to be realized through their holy acts, characterized by violence.(that sounds damn familiar too, doesn't it?!)

Anyway, here is an excerpt of Chris Hedges' ideas. They are all over the net if you are interested in learning more...

"One of the arguments used to assuage our fears that the mass movement being built by the Christian right is fascist at its core is that it has not yet created a Praetorian Guard, referring to the paramilitary force that defied legal constraints, made violence part of the political discourse and eventually plunged ancient Rome into tyranny and despotism. A paramilitary force that operates outside the law, one that sows fear among potential opponents and is capable of physically silencing those branded by their leaders as traitors, is a vital instrument in the hands of despotic movements. Communist and fascist movements during the last century each built paramilitary forces that operated beyond the reach of the law.

And yet we may be further down this road than we care to admit. Erik Prince, the secretive, mega-millionaire, right-wing Christian founder of Blackwater, the private security firm that has built a formidable mercenary force in Iraq, champions his company as a patriotic extension of the U.S. military. His employees, in an act as cynical as it is deceitful, take an oath of loyalty to the Constitution. These mercenary units in Iraq, including Blackwater, contain some 20,000 fighters. They unleash indiscriminate and wanton violence against unarmed Iraqis, have no accountability and are beyond the reach of legitimate authority. The appearance of these paramilitary fighters, heavily armed and wearing their trademark black uniforms, patrolling the streets of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, gave us a grim taste of the future. It was a stark reminder that the tyranny we impose on others we will one day impose on ourselves. "


pygalgia said...

Nice post. I fixed the link for you.

SweaterMan said...

Gandhi -

Don't come to the library and rent the DVD "Jesus Camp". Really, don't. It'll scare the be-jesus out of you, as most of the kids in the movie will end up working for Blackwater someday.

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