Saturday, October 13, 2007

Is Clinton Responsible for Blackwater?

This morning the Washington Post, not normally one of my favorite newspapers, ran an interesting article on Blackwater and its founder, Erik Prince. The article notes that:
Blackwater's extraordinary rise would not have been possible without a swirl of historic forces, including sharp cuts in military and security staffing in the 1990s.... Over the past seven years, federal agencies have used changes in contracting rules launched during the Clinton administration to outsource an unprecedented amount of government business, including life-and-death duties once the domain of the military.
So while Bush the Younger usually gets most of the credit for the privitization of US military operations, in fact the opportunity to do so only came about as a result of the massive military cuts made by two Clinton administrations. Or did it?...

A host of public-private partnerships existed during World War II, from intelligence analysis to weapons development to language training for counterintelligence personnel. But America's use of what today would be termed 'contractors' in fact goes back much farther. Captain Myles Standish, of Pilgrim fame, was a hired security contractor, as were many figures in the early days of American settlement. This is not really surprising, since public-private partnerships were common in the Anglo-American tradition at least as far back as Elizabethan England. Sir Francis Walsingham, Sir Francis Drake, Sir John Hawkins, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare and the other men the Elizabeth employed probably worried little about the precise nature of their work with the government. They were serving Queen and country, and that was what mattered.

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