Blackwater: Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army by Jeremy Scahill


Blackwater: Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army is a book written by independent journalist Jeremy Scahill. The book explores the rise of private contracting and the Bush administration’s complete abdication of public interest in the Iraq war. It also delves into the reckless profiteering of all types of war contractors, not just Blackwater.

The book provides a detailed account of the history of Blackwater, which began in 1997 as a private security firm providing training support to law enforcement, the justice department, and military organizations. The company received its first contract from the United States government in 2000 after the bombing of the USS Cole.

One of the main themes of the book is the privatization of war and security. Scahill argues that Blackwater exists as a mercenary force, and its rise is a consequence of the demobilization of the US military. The book also highlights the Nisour Square massacre in Baghdad, where a group of Blackwater employees killed 17 Iraqi civilians and injured 20, leading to widespread notoriety.

Useful takeaways from the book include:

  • The dangers of privatizing war and security
  • The consequences of reckless profiteering by war contractors
  • The need for greater accountability and oversight in the use of private contractors in conflict zones.

What I Liked

I love that this book exists, and seems to have made some change in the world, especially after the 2nd term of Barack Obama. A monopoly on violence is the most dangerous, but necessary concept in human civilization. It’s so dangerous to introduce profit into the equation, especially at the cost of democratic governance.

What I Did Not Like

The book can be a little screed-y at times. I do think contractors serve some role (mainly in specialized and non-violent roles).

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