Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Pooch of War

A lot of media controversy has surrounded the use of private military companies like Blackwater to provide VIP protection, facility defense and other ancilliary security services in Iraq. Questions have been asked. Is the use of private military companies good public policy? Isn't it immoral at some level? Tigerhawk, quoting Stratfor, notices that Iran may have no qualms about using their version of private military contractors.

Iran has commissioned Imad Mughniyye, Hezbollah official for foreign operations, to organize cells of Shiite operatives in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to operate against U.S. and pro-U.S. Arabs in the event of war against Iran, a Stratfor source in Lebanon said Oct. 25. Trainees from the Persian Gulf region reportedly have arrived in Lebanon and are conducting drills in the Bekaa Valley.

Imad Mugniyah (as his name is sometimes spelled) has a fine record as a private military contractor. Wikipedia recounts some of his better known exploits.

Little is known about his adolescence as he did not attract the attention of analysts until 1976 when he joined Yasir Arafat's Force 17. His role at that time was as a sniper, targeting Christians across the Green Line. At some point he spent a year at the American University of Beirut. Mugniyah has been implicated in many of terrorist attacks in the 1980s and 1990s, primarily American and Israeli targets. These include the April 18, 1983 bombing of the United States embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, which killed 63 people including 17 Americans. He was later blamed for the October 23, 1983 simultaneous truck bombings against the French paratroopers and US Marine barracks (see: Marine Barracks Bombing). The attacks killed 58 French soldiers and 241 Marines. Almost a year later on September 20, 1984, he attacked the US embassy annex building. The United States indicted him for the June 14, 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847, which resulted in the death of U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem. He was also linked to numerous kidnappings of Westerners in Beirut through the 1980s, most notably that of Terry Anderson. Some of these individuals were later killed such as U.S. Army Col William Francis Buckley. The remainder were released at various times until the last one, Terry Anderson was released in 1991. He has been described as "tall, slender, well-dressed and handsome ... penetrating eyes," speaking some English but better French.

You'd have to go far into Blackwater to find a man with such an ... impressive ... record. But the best part about him is that he's above sectarianism. He's worked for the Sunnis and the Shia. Why, even such stalwart American allies as France, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan seem to think highly of him or know enough not to mess with him. The Wikipedia article continues.

The United States tried to secure his capture in France in 1986, but were thwarted by French refusal to detain him.

The United States tried to detain him several times afterwards, the first being a 1995 attempt to detain him as the plane he was traveling on was supposed to stop in Saudi Arabia. However Saudi officials refused to allow the plane to land and he was not captured. The next year US military personnel planned to seize him off a ship in Doha, Qatar, but the operation was called off. This plan, dubbed Operation RETURN OX, was carried out by ships and Sailors of Amphibious Squadron Three (USS Tarawa, USS Duluth, USS Rushmore), Marines of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and Navy SEALS assigned to the U. S. Fifth Fleet. The operation was underway, but was canceled at the last minute when it was not verified that Mughniyah was actually on board the Pakistani ship.

Tigerhawk asks whether it isn't time for America to learn to fight a proxy war.

Sort of makes you wonder why the West no longer has any capacity to organize "cells of operatives" to fight our end of a proxy war. We used to think it was important to have proxy capabilities, back when we knew that direct war with the Soviet Union was too dangerous to be credible. Now, direct military action is too unpopular with the chattering classes to be credible. Is it not time to relearn how to fight war in the shadows?

But wouldn't that be immoral?


Blogger Who Struck John said...

Which is more immoral -- getting down in the dirt and grime to fight that proxy war, or waiting until the Iranians have nukes and hand them off to some fanatic that sets them off in Long Beach.

Never is a word used by those who never have to face the consequences of letting things slide over the cliff while doing nothing.

10/25/2007 05:58:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

The Soviets succeeded in emasculating us.

10/25/2007 06:53:00 PM  
Blogger ZZMike said...

I don't think their use and ours are anywhere near compatible. Blackwater provides security, freeing up soldiers for more military jobs.

The name Mugniyah (also Mugniyeh) rang a bell, and Wiki confirms. He's one of the deadliest men in the region.

10/25/2007 07:24:00 PM  

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