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writing for godot

Buildup of Privately Financed and Controlled Paramilitary Units: Implications for American Democracy

Written by George Monroe   
Sunday, 17 March 2019 09:39

Barely mentioned in the media, there is a steadily increasing number of organized groups within our country that have immediate access to assault weapons and “surplus” military equipment. These units of heavily armed and well-trained combatants are beyond the awareness of most ordinary citizens. They are privately organized, financed, and controlled by wealthy oligarchs recently exposed as staunch enemies of democracy.

Foremost among these privatized, combat-ready organizations is a powerful derivative of Blackwater International, a parallel corporate army that the Bush/Cheney Administration spent hundreds of millions of public dollars to develop. Operating beyond the bounds of normal legal constraints, the well-trained mercenaries were led by Eric Prince, a former Navy Seal who had turned military privateer. Prince and his paramilitary legions were  involved deeply in providing support to U.S. military personnel as they invaded Iraq.

However, a squad of armed Blackwater contractors gunned down seventeen unarmed civilians at the Nisour traffic circle in Baghdad; an FBI inquiry found later that fourteen of the deaths were unjustified. After these painful convictions and paying enormous fines, Prince sold the company. He then reorganized the most basic elements of Blackwater International into a new company called Xe Services. Under this banner for the past seven years, he has provided investment and paramilitary solutions for oligarchs and despots at locations around the world.

The concern with Prince at this point in time is that he is secretly maneuvering to regain his status in the U.S. as a warrior for the free market governance that he and his sister, Betsy DeVos, fervently believe should replace all democracies. With Betsy in the White House as the Secretary of Education, Prince is seeking access to President Donald Trump and a chance to gain his support for a lucrative plan to privatize the Afghan war.

To better understand Prince and his messianic belief in the primacy of free market economics with no compromises allowed, it is helpful to read the article published by Forbes in April of 2018, entitled Blackwater’s Dark Prince Returns. Written by Editor Noah Hirsch, it details the threat to our democracy by Prince and his reconstituted mercenary army now waiting in the wings for the opportunity to help Trump refocus American politics:

In 2017, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) found that the number of armed and angry hate groups scattered about the country rose to 954 from 917 the prior year, an increase of 4 percent. Neo-Nazi groups within the white supremacist movement grew 22 percent from 99 to 121. Anti-Muslim groups rose for the third straight year to 114.  During the year 2017, the number of anti-immigrant groups shot up from 14 to 22.  In their Spring 2019 Intelligence Report, SPLC provides evidence that the total number of hate groups across the U.S. had risen to 1,020 at the time of publication.

It is important to keep in mind that these are paramilitary groups of heavily armed men who call themselves “weekend warriors.” They practice training exercises and simulated warfare in secluded locations all around the country. Some are trained and battle-seasoned veterans with U.S. military experience. They are ultra-loyal supporters of President Donald Trump and have vowed to come out fighting if he is arrested or impeached. They are constantly goaded to “righteous” anger by right-wing media personalities like Ted Nugent, Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and some deluded evangelical preachers who claim to speak for God.

At various times these dedicated warriors show up at public gatherings, shout racist comments and threaten to harm the peaceful participants. Confrontations like this often result in violence and sometimes even death. For example, in August 2017 there was a vicious beating of an unarmed man and the killing of a peaceful woman at a white nationalist rally being held in Charlottesville, Virginia. These groups have the motivation and potential to do harm to anyone who gets in their way as they commit mayhem to help Trump “make America great again.”

The formation of Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel and equipping them with combat level weapons has resulted in a rapidly growing number of Trump loyalists that constitute a kind of private army. They are neither authorized or controlled by Congress.  At Trump’s command they search for his enemies and brutally make them “disappear” with imprisonment and deportation. In this role they provide another rough and ready military force at his disposal that he can command without normal oversight.

Trump has now ordered an additional 3750 soldiers to be moved to the U.S. Mexican border. These are heavily armed combat-ready military personnel with combat ready firepower at their disposal to do whatever they are ordered to do. According to estimates by the Department of Defense, this will make a total of 4,350 troops on hand to secure the border from possible invasion by a few hundred unarmed civilians. The exorbitant size and expense of this maneuver, compared to the actual threat, seems to be preparation to (as they say down south) “kill a piss ant with an elephant gun.” It raises a serious question about what is the real purpose for bringing such heavy firepower to this border location.  Is there, in fact, an ulterior motive for doing it that transcends Trump’s ego-driven need to show the world what power he has and what he alone can do at will?

The National Rifle Association was founded as an organization committed for providing positive benefits to legitimate gun fanciers and hunters.  Karl Frederick, NRA president in 1934, stated before congress in support of national firearms legislation “I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.” Four years later, the NRA backed the Federal Firearms Act of 1938.

For more than forty years the NRA focused mainly on sportsmen, hunters, and target shooters.  It supported the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), to federally license gun dealers and establish restrictions on certain kinds of firearms.  However, in 1975 it made a sharp turn and began to focus more on politics. After 1977, the focus of the organization moved strongly to the right and coalitions with conservative politicians, mostly Republicans, were formed. At the 1991 national convention, an NRA staff lobbyist, Wayne LaPierre ,was named Executive Vice president. Under his leadership the organization redoubled its lobbying efforts and by 1998 became one of the biggest spenders in our congressional elections. In 2016 the NRA reported spending more than $30,000,000 in support of Donald Trump.

Investigations by the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller have resulted in legal indictments of Russian agents on charges of collusion with the NRA to influence U.S. politics. Also, findings of the Senate Judiciary Committee indicated that the Russians surreptitiously used the NRA as a means of accessing and assisting Trump and his campaign.  The critical thing to understand and share is that the original NRA was a positive and pro-democracy organization that was stolen by right-wing extremists to serve an anti-democratic purpose.

No doubt it is disturbing to learn that we have within the U.S. many loosely connected groups of heavily armed military personnel that are mostly loyal to Trump and without much public awareness or congressional oversight. Among these live pockets of potential threat to our democratic republic are: remnants of Blackwater International reformulated into Xe, hundreds of armed white supremacy hate groups looking for a fight, increasing numbers of Trump loyalist ICE troops, a renegade NRA committed to paramilitary proliferation, and more than four thousand regular duty soldiers.

These forces are available easily and they are potentially ready for a joint takeover mission. They could be ordered into battle by a commander who clearly lacks understanding or serious concern for the terrible destruction that would be unleashed, especially if media hawks say he must stay on course to make America great again. The wise counsel contained in the ancient proverb: “forewarned is forearmed” certainly offers direction for appropriate citizen action under the circumstances.

Sharing this awareness widely is the best tool we have to track and put the brakes on the steady movement toward a potential tipping point where our democracy goes down in flames. We need to find highly efficient ways to get this information the widest possible exposure in the media. Reposting this article everywhere possible is a good place to start. Writing terse comments to be quoted or referenced in journals and magazines can offer seminal opportunities to share the facts. Encouraging organizations like Indivisible and ACLU People Power to inform their active members can reach millions. Gathering together with others over snacks and beverages, or even a planned dinner, to brainstorm how to raise public awareness can stimulate creative ideas about how to share this vital information where it counts.   your social media marketing partner

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