Send Guns And A Whole Lot Of Taxpayer Money, But Hold The Lawyers

I’m several days late on this, but whatever Blackwater’s relationship is/was with JSOC, company founder Erik Prince had a snide parting shot for Gen. McChrystal on CNBC:

Gen. McChrystal’s a great warrior. Very well respected by the troops, as is Gen. Petraeus. Politically acceptable to do the mission, he was CENTCOM commander. It’s not like he’s been out of the loop. So that mission will continue.  I think one of the hardest things, for a guy like Gen. McChrystal, if he was getting complaints from his troops, it was very restrictive rules of engagement. Constant restraints on what they could do. I mean, you can’t drop a bomb from an airplane in Afghanistan without having a lawyer sign off on it. We’ve almost allowed lawyers to become what political officers were in the Soviet Union. The guys who can truly approve, and nix, anything a battlefield commander can do.

Zell Miller couldn’t have said it better. Holding a preoccupation with providing security for a civilian population is like being a Soviet political commissar. I suppose we can kill our way to victory in Afghanistan, then. The bombing starts in five minutes! Take that, lawyer!

This is anti-COIN as farce, not sensible course correction. Counterinsurgency, in theory and in practice, needs to be constantly subject to scrutiny and intellectual rigor. Unlearning very painful lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan is the precise opposite of that.

As a side note, I never watch CNBC, so perhaps I shouldn’t be so astonished that this panel simply doesn’t ever explain what Blackwater/Xe does. With all the euphemism and vagueness on display here, a viewer would never know that the firm is a private security company that’s killed civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, set up shell companies to win contracts, spirited away guns intended for the Afghan police for its guards’ unauthorized personal use, has or had some very close and unclear relationship with the CIA, etc.

(Via Jeff Stein.)

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Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman