Monday, June 16, 2008

Blackwater: Part of the Darfur Solution?

Benny Avni of the New York Sun has written a fascinating letter to Alain Le Roi, the new head of peacekeeping at the United Nations:

For help, you'd be wise to contact two people who come from two extreme ends of America's finest traditions. You probably remember Mia Farrow from the movies. Erik Prince's excellent corporation, Blackwater USA, is often vilified in your circles, so you've probably heard of him, as well. I spoke to both of them recently. She's very dot-org. He's all dot-com. She's a bleeding heart, an effective and fierce fighter against injustice. He's a successful businessman, whose business is peacemaking. I'm no matchmaker, but if opposites really do attract, this, for the suffering people of Darfur, would be a match made in heaven.

Mr. Avni goes on to explain that Erik Prince has previously mentioned his willingness to lend a hand in Darfur, should he be called upon to do so. Moreover, he notes that Blackwater need not be employed as trigger-pullers to change the situation on the ground. Simply by doing logistics and communications, "Blackwater can organize [the 9,000 African troops already deployed there] into a force to be reckoned with." Why? Because peacekeeping is about more than just toting guns. It requires high levels of technical competency.

You'll also need highly trained people on the ground. Mr. Prince's men are some of the best in the business. Your predecessor has traveled the world nonstop, begging donors for a few helicopters, which are necessary in the vast deserts of Darfur; Blackwater has helicopters. Blackwater, in short, can cut your costs and the loss of life.

Mr. Avni is quite aware that Blackwater has been in the news, and not always favorably. But he has few qualms about recommending them to the UN, noting that Blackwater "contracts are heavily regulated by the American government." His conclusion: "Go to [Mr. Prince and Ms. Farrow], secretly or in public, just for advice or to sign contracts, together or separately. Nongovernment types like Ms. Farrow, and organizations like Mr. Prince's have an interest in Darfur. They are your best bet there, and thus everywhere."

2 comments:

somekindofdemocracy said...

Hello (Mr?) Standish,

I am a researcher and journalist for the International Relations and Security Network in Zurich. I'm unable to find your personal e-mail address anywhere on your blog, but I am very interested in talking to you (or someone you perhaps may be able to put me contact with) about the PMC/PSC issue, as well as this particular blog.

Please receive this message kindly and reply with some way that I might get in touch with the authors of this blog.

You can reach me at jodybennett@gmail.com

Thank you and very kind regards,
Jody Bennett
ISN Zurich

Standish said...

Hello, Jody Bennett: Thanks for your note. I only comment through this blog. If you would like to speak with someone on the record, you should try the people at the International Peace Operations Association (IPOA), at www.ipoaonline.org; or Serviam magazine, at www.serviammagazine.com. Or, for that matter, the folks at Blackwater. I don't claim to speak for any of them. - Standish.