Attempting to make The War in Afghanistan Privatized
Erik Prince, the notorious founder of the military contracting company formerly known as Blackwater, has been making the rounds of media outlets to promote his idea for privatizing the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Prince, whose company was renamed Academi, and who now chairs a Chinese-owned company named Frontier Services Group, is unabashedly vying for a lucrative Pentagon contract that would turn over military operations in Afghanistan to a private corporation. He has gone as far as calling for an “American viceroy” in Afghanistan to fix the United States’ failing war.
Prince’s bid began on June 1, when he penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal suggesting that President Donald Trump should “consolidate authority in Afghanistan with one person: an American viceroy who would lead all U.S. government and coalition efforts.” The Trump administration then reportedly reached out to him in July “to devise alternatives to the Pentagon’s plan to send thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan.” Trump has been resisting calls from Gen. John Nicholson, who leads U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, for an increase of 20,000 troops. But after Prince waved his seductive, business-friendly approach to the war in Trump’s face, the president is now considering handing over the longest official war the U.S. has ever waged to an unaccountable private corporation.
Privatization makes Sidestepping the Law Easier for Military Contractors
Under Prince’s leadership, Blackwater’s operations in Iraq in 2007 included the horrific massacre of 17 civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. Four of Blackwater’s employees were convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms in 2014, but fortuitously for Prince and his reputation, a federal appeals court earlier this month rejected prison sentences for three of them and ordered a new trial for the fourth.
The type of impunity that Blackwater employees demonstrated in Iraq will likely show up in Afghanistan if Prince has his way. Indeed, he seems to have no patience for the military bureaucracy and has brazenly suggested that any “viceroy” Trump appoints in Afghanistan should remain fully in control of the war and be accountable to no one. “Troops fighting for their lives should not have to ask a lawyer sitting in air conditioning 500 miles away for permission to drop a bomb,” he writes.