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U.S. Mercenaries to UN: Stop Using the Word 'Mercenary' in Your Investigation into Mercenaries

The U.S. mercenary trade association asks the UN to join its rebranding campaign.

By Jeremy Scahill, AlterNet
Posted on April 15, 2009, Printed on April 16, 2009

The latest episode of "Total Makeover: Make Me a More Huggable Mercenary" is just too precious to pass up. As observers of the rise of private paramilitary forces, like Blackwater/Xe (Bush's thugs) and Triple Canopy (Obama's hired guns) know, the mercenary industry has its very own trade association, with the warm and fuzzy Orwellian name, the International Peace Operations Association.

With its Disney-esque cartoon sleeping lion logo, this group has long spearheaded the drive to sell greater involvement by the private sector in the U.S. war machine and all other U.S. and UN operations.

Well, the past few months have brought some intense (at times comical) rebranding efforts in the mercenary world. Most prominently, Blackwater changed its name to Xe and its shadowy leader Erik Prince resigned as CEO (while retaining his title of chairman and sole owner of the company).

While Blackwater technically lost its big Iraq security contract last month, its armed operatives are going to be re-employed by the new hired guns of choice, Triple Canopy, which the Obama administration is paying for its paramilitary services in Iraq as well as Israel/Palestine.

Now, the mercenary trade association, IPOA, is telling the UN that it should rebrand its investigation of mercenaries.

First, some background: For years, the UN has been investigating the scourge of mercenaries across the globe. More recently, it has turned its focus on the widespread use of these forces by the U.S. and other governments in the waging of wars, like in Iraq and Afghanistan. The UN group has traveled the globe, tracing the rise of these powerful armed groups and corporations, including looking at the widespread practice of recruiting soldiers from countries with atrocious human rights records and deploying them in war zones to which their home countries are not a party. At present, the UN body is called the "United Nations Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries." But, in a letter to the UN, the president of the IPOA, suggests the name be changed:

It is in this spirit of cooperation that IPOA recommends that theWorking Group remove the word ‘mercenary’ from both its name and mandate. A change to “the UN Working Group on Stability Contractors” (or something similar) will mean that the Working Group’s name and mandate will not only accurately reflect the true nature of the industry, but will reiterate the Working Group’s commitment to pursue, in good faith, the advocacy of effective international law and regulation.

Seriously. What are these guys smoking? In the letter, IPOA says the UN's  "continued use of ‘mercenary’ is perceived as derogatory."

Oh did the poor little mercenaries have their feelings hurt by that mean old world body? What does the IPOA say about the killing of unarmed civilians by "stability contractors"?

IPOA president Doug Brooks tells the UN, "We look forward to a fruitful collaboration with a renamed Working Group under an updated and improved mandate."

The UN should not engage in this silliness with these PR hacks pushing the services of these hired gun thugs. What's their name again? Oh, right, the International Association of Saintly Kitten Rescuers."


Jeremy Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army.

© 2009 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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