William Astor of TomsDispatch asks: Are we not unlike 18th Century European Monarchs?
"Our wars and their impact are kept in remarkable isolation from what passes for public affairs in this country, leaving most Americans with little knowledge and even less say about whether they should be, and how they are, waged. In this sense, our wars are eerily like those pursued by European monarchs in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: conflicts carried out by professional militaries and bands of mercenaries, largely at the whim of what we might now call a unitary executive, funded by deficit spending, for the purposes of protecting or extending the interests of a ruling elite."
And who's right on top of the new mercenary money binge? Erik Prince, formerly known as founder of Blackwater, (a company that changed its name to a symbol that only the artist formerly-and-now-once-again-known as Prince can pronounce), has pounced on the opportunities in the Middle East "uprisings"
and stands prepared to act in whatever manner the top dollar brings:
Two UAE government officials contacted by Reuters declined immediate comment on the New York Times report, and the U.S. embassy in the UAE also had no immediate comment. It was not possible to locate Prince for comment.
The Times quoted a U.S. official who was aware of the program as saying: "The Gulf countries, and the U.A.E. in particular, don't have a lot of military experience. It would make sense if they looked outside their borders for help."
State Department spokesman Mark Toner told The Times the department was investigating to see if the project broke any U.S. laws. U.S. law requires a license for American citizens to train foreign troops.
Toner also pointed out that Blackwater, now known as Xe Services, had paid $42 million in fines in 2010 for training foreign forces in Jordan without a license, the Times said.
According to former employees of the project and U.S. officials cited by the Times, the troops were brought to a training camp in the UAE from Colombia, South Africa and other countries, starting in the summer of 2010.
They were being trained by retired U.S. military, and former members of German and British special operations units and the French Foreign Legion, the Times said.
Prince had insisted the force hire no Muslims, because they "could not be counted on to kill fellow Muslims," the paper said.
Reading these two articles together makes me think that the first article didn't go back far enough. This is much more like the Crusades in the Middle Ages. Plus, as a Doobie Brothers fan, I'm super mad at Mr. Prince for giving the term "Blackwater" a nefarious connotation.