I now have a new reason to be troubled by Obama's policy platform (See, I told you I wasn't simply his cheerleader): it looks very like any troop drawdown he ordered in Iraq would simply be replaced by a surge of mercanaries from Blackwater and others.
A senior foreign policy adviser to leading Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has told The Nation that if elected Obama will not "rule out" using private security companies like Blackwater Worldwide in Iraq. The adviser also said that Obama does not plan to sign on to legislation that seeks to ban the use of these forces in US war zones by January 2009, when a new President will be sworn in. Obama's campaign says that instead he will focus on bringing accountability to these forces while increasing funding for the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the agency that employs Blackwater and other private security contractors. (Hillary Clinton's staff did not respond to repeated requests for an interview or a statement on this issue.)I'm just not sure that's good enough. Maybe if they were accountable to Iraqi law then such a quibble would have some teeth...but even so I'm inclined to think foreign mercenary armies in a situation such as that in Iraq are just a bad thing, period.
Obama's broader Iraq withdrawal plan provides for some US troops to remain in Iraq--how many his advisers won't say. But it's clear that Obama's "follow-on force" will include a robust security force to protect US personnel in Iraq, US trainers (who would also require security) for Iraqi forces and military units to "strike at Al Qaeda"--all very broad swaths of the occupation.
"If Barack Obama comes into office next January and our diplomatic security service is in the state it's in and the situation on the ground in Iraq is in the state it's in, I think we will be forced to rely on a host of security measures," said the senior adviser. "I can't rule out, I won't rule out, private security contractors." He added, "I will rule out private security contractors that are not accountable to US law."
I also note that Clinton's silent on this one so far. I'd like to know, personally.