The State Department, seeking to retain its relationship with Blackwater USA while trying to bring the company’s armed guards under tighter control, said Friday that it would now send its own personnel as monitors on all Blackwater security convoys in and around Baghdad.
In addition, the department says it will install video cameras in Blackwater vehicles and will save recordings of all radio transmissions between Blackwater convoys and military and civilian agencies.
What does all this mean? The knee-jerk answer is that Blackwater has been reigned in and punished in some way. This is true so far as it goes, but it misses a key underlying point: the State Department wants Blackwater to stay in Iraq. And why? Because without Blackwater protection, US diplomats would have to pull up stakes and come home. The situation is simply too dangerous to operate without protection. The Department of Defense is too busy fighting insurgents and State Department guards are inadequate for the task.
The most alarming part of this story is that the anti-war camp knows just how important Blackwater is ensuring that US diplomats are able to provide a political dimension to US efforts in Iraq. Without the diplomats, the military component alone cannot win the war. And the anti-war camp knows this. That's why they want Blackwater out. The anti-war camp's not interested in the safety of Iraqi civilians or US government personnel; they just want to see us out now. And they're willing to resort to dirty politics and frivolous lawsuits to do it.