Custer Battles Iraqis in Alamo

Quotes of the Week:


One senior American officer said that in any urban fight, American troops could turn Falluja into ‘a killing field in a couple of days…’ One senior American officer said, ‘How Falluja is resolved has huge reverberations, not just in Iraq but throughout the entire area.’ Or, as another senior officer put it, ‘We have the potential to turn this into the Alamo if we get it wrong.’” (Eric Schmitt, “U.S. General at Falluja Warns a Full Attack Could Come Soon,” New York Times, 4/22/04)


A security contractor killed in Iraq last week was once one of South Africa’s most secret covert agents, his identity guarded so closely that even the Truth and Reconciliation Commission did not discover the extent of his involvement in apartheid’s silent wars… In South Africa he joined the SA Defence Force’s secret Project Barnacle, a precursor to the notorious Civil Co-operation Bureau (CCB) death squad… In 1985 he was involved in planning the now notorious SADF raid on Gaborone in which 14 people, including a five-year-old child, were killed.” (Julian Rademeyer, “Iraq victim was top-secret apartheid killer,” Sunday Times [of South Africa], 4/18/04)


A former British soldier shot while guarding workers in Iraq predicted being ‘over-run’ in an e-mail the night before his death in the town of Hit… Mr Bloss, who is believed to have served with the parachute regiment in Northern Ireland, was working for a Virginia-based security firm, Custer Battles.” (“Iraq Briton’s final tragic e-mail,” BBC News, 4/10/04)


In the first months of the occupation, [said Bessam Jarrah, an Iraqi surgeon,] we, the educated people, thought America would show us a humanitarian way, a political way, to solve problems… But this use of force means the efforts to find a political solution for Iraq has failed, and now America is using Saddam’s approach to problems: brute force. America won the war on April 9 last year; they lost the war on April 9 this year. That is what Iraqis feel.” (Alissa J. Rubin, “Carnage Dims Hopes for Political Way in Iraq,” Los Angeles Times, 4/19/04)


A new word order


Imagine that: The Iraqis of Fallujah in “the Alamo” and a British “security contractor,” with previous experience in Northern Ireland, working for the oddly named Custer Battles, a Virginia “security firm,” and dying in the Iraqi town of Hit. Custer Battles, by the way, also “has the airport security contract in Baghdad. Airport security in this context does not mean bored attendees standing by an X-ray machine, but rather former Green Berets and Ghurka fighters defending the airport from mortars, rockets and snipers.”


So we now have potential Iraqi Davy Crocketts and Jim Bowies facing off against the modern equivalent of “the Seventh Cavalry,” filled with Gurkhas, Chileans of the Pinochet regime, South African former death squad members, former British special forces officers, American ex-Seals and the like amid what Alissa Rubin of the Los Angeles Times calls a “culture of impunity” in Iraq. Though she’s referring to the world of Iraqi kidnappers and assassins, the word “impunity,” which means “exemption from punishment, penalty, or harm,” and has an old-fashioned imperial edge to it, also catches something of the Bush administration stance toward Iraq and the greater world.


The men of Custer Battles guard Baghdad’s airport, while the men of Blackwater USA — if still waters run deep, how do blackwaters run, and where do they get these names? — four of whom were killed and mutilated in Fallujah, provi

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