(AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

The New York Times invites Erik Prince to advocate for privatizing the Afghanistan war

The founder of Blackwater continues to advocate for his plan to use mercenaries in America's longest war


Charlie May
August 30, 2017 3:10PM (UTC)

On Wednesday, The New York Times allowed Blackwater (now known as Academi) founder Erik Prince to write an op-ed in which he continued to argue that the Pentagon should hire private paramilitary services in order to end — and somehow win — the war in Afghanistan.

Over the last few months, Prince has advertised his plan on a multitude of fronts, including cable news appearances and op-eds in The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. In the Times op-ed, Prince referred to President Donald Trump's new policy in Afghanistan as "more old than new," and while that's largely true, he also mentioned that his own method has been tried as well, but left out that it didn't work either. Just ask Iraq, who banned Blackwater's services after Prince's mercenaries murdered 17 civilians at Nisour Square in 2007.

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Prince sold the company in 2010 and now heads Frontier Services Group, a logistics and aviation company focused on Africa and South Asia. That's backed by China’s state-owned CITIC Group.

Prince even acknowledged his brazen persistence and linked to an article written by Times reporters that exposed the fact that he was one of two men hired to advocate for his solutions "at the behest of Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s [former] chief strategist, and Jared Kushner, his senior adviser and son-in-law."

Prince, a longtime friend of Trump and the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, has made his goal quite clear, "denying America’s enemies the sanctuary they used to plan the Sept. 11 attacks," all while attempting to downplay and whitewash the fact he asking the military to outsource its combat roles in order to achieve the so-called solution "Americans really care about."

He's previously stated that his model would replicate that of the East India Company and install a "viceroy" to oversee operations, though he insisted he wasn't "advocating colonization."

According to Prince's plan, he "would use former Special Operations veterans as contractors who would live, train and patrol alongside their Afghan counterparts at the lowest company and battalion levels — where it matters most," the op-ed said. These mercenaries, though Prince prefers the term contractors, would "serve as adjuncts to the Afghan Army and would perform in strict conformity with Afghan rules of engagement, eliminating the stigma of a foreign occupying force."

The problem here? It only exacerbates the stigma of an occupying force because that occupying force would admit that even its own military can't salvage the country's longest war.

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Prince has a long history of abuse, and a former Blackwater employee once described him as "a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and said that Prince’s companies "encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life."

The former Blackwater founder has also been an interesting subject in the Trump administration's ongoing Russia scandals after he reportedly attended a meeting in the Seychelles with the intent to establish a back channel between the president and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Prince's op-ed, like his others, was an advertisement to continue his war profiteering and self-serving "crusade."


Charlie May

Charlie May is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @charliejmay

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