Monday, October 08, 2007


In an effort to create new content that's not always book and DVD-driven, I've decided to try to post every day about something. Occasionally I'm going to dip into news articles. Like today.

For those of you who don't know, Blackwater is a HUGE international private security firm that's being hired by the United States government to help out with effort in Iraq. They first came to public attention down in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit.

Private security firm translates into mercenaries. Guys who lay their lives on the line for money to provide security or an imposing threat. In some ways, the whole idea is interesting and at the same time scary.

It's interesting because it's one of those jobs fiction writers always have lurking in their novels, dark, brooding men with dangerous reflexes and a higher sense of national pride or need for adrenaline. It's scary because the Blackwater mercs don't operate under the same rules of war that are in place for the American serviceman. They've got a blank check to do whatever it is they've been hired to do.

I don't know enough about what they're doing to make a judgment call about them regarding whether they're a good thing or a bad thing. I know that their jobs are dangerous, and I know that they've gotten into considerable trouble over in Iraq after a suspicious shooting that resulted in the death of 17 Iraqi nationals. That's all still being sorted out.

The United States has a long history of hiring mercenaries. A lot of people may not know this. George Washington and the War Department hired German as well as French mercenaries to fight in the Revolutionary War. It's not a new thing. And there have been convincing arguments of the years that the federal government has hired mercenaries in the past to influence political situations in other countries. This is one of the first times that these goals have been performed so aboveboard.

Or maybe the world's technology has progressed to the point that it's hard to keep many things secret. Of course, a mercenary's work tends to have more effect if everyone knows he's on the job. A high-profile might be what's called for here.

However, I am going to read more about them. A new book addressing the security firm and their practices has just been released. I'm thinking about picking it up and trying to get a better understanding of how this thing operates.

If nothing else, I'm going to reseach the organization and see how thngs shake out. Fiction tends to follow real life. Even science fiction often imitates real-world situations. Since the private security sector is one of the corporate businesses growing by leaps and bounds at a time when recession and economical set-backs loom, I find it even more interesting.

I want to know what the benefits of hiring people like this are. I want to know the kind of men who do this job. I want to know what benefits these men are getting and what sacrifices they're making (beyond giving their blood and lives). I want to know what kind of training (physical, mental, emotional, and religious -- if any) that they're receiving.

These are the kinds of questions writers start with to build plots and characters.


Katie said...

I had not heard about this. Wow. If you pick up that book let me know. I'd like to ask you some questions about it.

Ron Simpson said...

I read a transcript of the Senate grilling the president of Blackwater. It was interesting.

Ron Simpson said...

this guy has a good piece on Blackwater.