Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Security company Blackwater U.S.A. is buying Super Tucano light combat aircraft from the Brazilian manufacturer Embraer. These five ton, single engine, single seat aircraft are built for pilot training, but also perform quite well for counter-insurgency work.... The bubble canopy provides excellent visibility. This, coupled with its slow speed (versus jets), makes it an excellent ground attack aircraft.
Now why would the good patriots at Blackwater need airplanes that "can carry up to 1.5 tons of weapons, including 12.7mm machine-guns, bombs and missiles"? For their missions in Iraq, of course. Because, you know, the world's largest military merely owning everything that flies over a third-world country isn't enough in the way of air superiority.
My first thought was that this had to do with the Administration's almost promised plans to invade Iran. (Please please please please please please please PLEASE don't do that! I can hope, can't I?) How else are we supposed to keep Iraq's friendly skies safe while we're shocking and aweing the mullahs? But there's an even more awful prospect for these "excellent ground attack aircrafts." Here's Jeremy Scahill, Blackwater expert and biographer:
Blackwater's been in negotiations with several state governments in the United States. Blackwater met recently with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger about doing disaster response in California. They're opening up a new private military base in San Diego. Another one is in Mount Carroll, Illinois. They have applied for operating licenses in every coastal U.S. state.
That's right, folks: the U.S. military whose expenditures are almost half of the total military spending worldwide needs private military bases in the United States for some reason.
What might that reason be? Perhaps it has something to do with National Security Presidential Directive NSPD-51, which lays out exactly how the Executive Branch would run the entire government in the event of a "Catastrophic Emergency," which could be anything from a terrorist attack to the next Katrina, as far as the ambiguous wording of the directive is concerned:
"Catastrophic Emergency" means any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions
Meanwhile, the clergy is being enlisted to keep citizens in line in the event of a declaration of martial law. Is it really a coincidence that a private company with close ties to the GOP is arming itself with attack planes just at the moment when the President is laying the groundwork for extraordinary wartime powers? The calmer side of me says, "hold judgment." I just can't help but see a mercenary force of palace guards looming in the not-too-distant future.
Should it come to that, I hope Machiavelli's thoughts on mercenaries will prove valid:
Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous; and if one holds his state based on these arms, he will stand neither firm nor safe; for they are disunited, ambitious and without discipline, unfaithful, valiant before friends, cowardly before enemies; they have neither the fear of God nor fidelity to men, and destruction is deferred only so long as the attack is; for in peace one is robbed by them, and in war by the enemy.
Aw, but who am I kidding? If we've learned anything from the Iraq War it's that we can be robbed by mercenaries in war as well.
UPDATE: I've clarified my position re: conspiracy theories. Yes, this probably means I'll get some angry responses and self-righteous condemnations, but it seems that it had to be done.