God, Machiavelli, & Mercenaries

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The Bangor Daily News (Maine)

God, Machiavelli, & Mercenaries

So I guess you know that Nebraska Sen. Ernie Chambers filed suit against God last week. Yep, the God. Turns out this week, God got a lawyer. Some Texas attorney who probably sees a good chance to make a name for himself here on Earth - or even get into heaven - representing the Almighty.At any rate, under advice of counsel, His defense rests on the assertion that God is above the law.

Sen. Chambers wants a judge to rule on this, because Chambers wants God to quit, well, raising hell. See, Chambers contends that God has caused "calamitous catastrophes resulting in the wide-spread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants including innocent babes, infants, children, the aged and infirm without mercy or distinction."

Killing innocent people and above the law: Seems God has a thing or two in common with Blackwater USA.

You're up on the news so you know that Blackwater mercenaries opened fire, apparently unprovoked, and killed 11 people last week. Maybe God can enter into evidence the videotape that the Iraqi police have. Apparently it shows that the mom, child and everybody else who died in this incident did so because Blackwater employees murdered them and it wasn't His fault.

And Friday, in addition to three U.S.-Iraqi probes into this latest Blackwater incident, Congress began hearing testimony about the role of mercenaries in the Iraq war.

Blackwater doesn't like that term, by the way.

Armed to the teeth and trained to kill while getting paid for it, Blackwater employees get a little squeamish about the term "mercenary." On Blackwater's Web site under the heading "Warriors for Hire" it says, "Blackwater objects to the use of the m-word for its employees, preferring the term "private military contractors."

Oh, my Lord! What kind of sissy-hypocrite opens fire on 20 unarmed people, killing 11 of them, and then can't say the "m-word"?

So Friday, before Congress, former contractor Donald Vance testified that some contractors in Iraq use rules of engagement and some don't. He testified that the last company he worked for didn't require employees to report anything bad that happened while they were on a mission - sort of a "don't ask don't tell" for killing.

And according to Jeremy Scahill, a reporter for The Nation and author of "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army," Blackwater is the worst of the bunch. Scahill explains that countless Blackwater m-words use blended metal bullets, even though the U.S. military has banned them. Scahill refers to tapes, apparently made by Blackwater employees, of some m-words bragging about using these bullets and watching their victims' stomachs explode.

Similar tales with Blackwater m-words boasting of their "turkey shoots" can be found in last week's issue of Newsweek magazine. In addition to relating the gory details of mercenary slaughter, writer Michael Hirsh explains how killing without liability, by someone other than God, can be possible. "Two days before he left Iraq for good, L. Paul Bremer III, the Coalition Provisional Authority administrator, signed a blanket order immunizing all Americans."

Maybe just a handful of these all-powerful beings in Iraq would be manageable. But as it says on the Blackwater Web site, "In the first Gulf war, the ratio of private contractors to military personnel was one to sixty. This time it's approaching one to one."

I spent most of Monday studying the Uniform Code of Military Justice. That's a code of behavior that applies to half the U.S. armed combatants in Iraq - the poorly paid half - our soldiers. It doesn't apply to the 160,000 or so contractors whose inflated incomes depend on this war continuing. Oh, and it doesn't apply to God.

Maybe the rush to war didn't give the administration time to sort this all out in advance. Hurrying often has unanticipated consequences. But jeepers, the president and the vice president both went to Yale. Didn't they have to read Machiavelli at Yale? OK, we'll let Cheney off the hook because he flunked out, but Bush must've read it.

Nicolo Machiavelli wrote in 1505, "And experience has shown princes and republics, single-handed, making the greatest progress; and mercenaries doing nothing except damage."

Pat LaMarche

Pat LaMarche is host of the The Pulse Morning Show, which broadcasts in Maine and is available on the web at zoneradio.com. She is the author of "Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States." She was the Green Party's vice-presidential candidate in the 2004 U.S. presidential election, with David Cobb as its presidential candidate. Pat may be reached at PatLaMarche@hotmail.com

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