[Editor’s note: Below is the final blog Gene Stoltzfus wrote before his sudden death on 10 March 2010. I have edited it for length and clarity. The last communication I received from Gene was in November 2009, after I edited his reflection on the Fort Hood shootings:
Kathy I am in awe at your ability to take stuff I write and compress it down to 500 words without compromising my intent. Some place in the universe there is a heaven for people like you …I think the years have made you better and you were already good. Gene
In Heaven, Gene, there will be enough room for all your wise and funny words. I look forward to seeing you and catching up on all your adventures there one day.
Kathleen Kern, CPTnet Editor]
In April 2004, the world awakened to a horrible scene in Fallujah, Iraq. Insurgents had ambushed a vehicle carrying civilian U. S. Government mercenary contractors and killed them. They hung two burned corpses in downtown Fallujah, where they dangled for several days. Commentators immediately compared the Fallujah footage to that of dead soldiers dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993. However, the victims in Somalia were American soldiers. The victims in Fallujah were American mercenaries employed by Blackwater Inc., renamed XE in 2007.
We are entering a new era of mercenary warriors. From the strategic point of view, modern mercenaries provide logistical and selected security support for invading forces in the field, and on the political level, they allow policy makers to engage in off-the-record, arms-length and clandestine activities on the margins and outside of the law. In the recent past, mercenary soldiers for profit have also served in Bosnia, Liberia, Pakistan, and Rwanda. They have guarded Afghan President Karzai and built detention facilities in Guantanamo and elsewhere. Mercenaries working under private corporations also have carried out specialized tasks for the CIA including the loading of Hellfire missiles onto Predator drones. They have engaged in search, capture, or assassination of enemy leaders in areas like the borderlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Pentagon argues that despite lavish salaries, using military contractors is cheaper than training soldiers for the work. What it does not say is that if the American armed forces were to carry out all these tasks, the U. S. Government would have to implement a military draft which would be unpopular and set up the sons and perhaps the daughters of the privileged classes for the danger and inconvenience of military service. The dominant culture insists that military or police force will make things right, that dirty tricks usually done in secret are required for our survival—and that Blackwater mercenaries are required for the work.
Thug-like paramilitary forces like the Taliban and Colombian armed groups function at the margin of traditional customary law. Modern mercenary contractors function outside constitutional law. Both blur the lines between judicial process and police activity, arrogating to themselves life and death decisions that any responsible society must legislate. These soldiers know the law of the gun. When or if constitutional government is restored, they seek a place within the institutions of security work, but rarely leave their habits of threat, killing, and improvised lawmaking.
We are not condemned to surviving in a world where the law is decimated by successive generations of paramilitaries. But more protection for the rule of law will probably not come from the Pentagon, nor from the White House. Congressional efforts to rein in support for paramilitaries or mercenaries remain timid. It will take an expanding worldwide, grassroots culture reaching beyond national borders to fashion a body of Christian peacemakers to be an effective power, blocking the guns and becoming part of transforming each impending tragedy of war.
Those wishing to read Stoltzfus’s entire reflection will find it and his other blogs at https://peaceprobe.wordpress.com/2010/03/03/why-blackwater-will-not-go-away/ – comments