Blackwater, Aegis and the body of Khan

Contractor mercenaries in their white SUVs
When Genghis Khan died, his body had to be returned from the battlefront to his birthplace in Outer Mongolia. Two factors determined how the Mongols decided to accomplish this. First, his successors hoped to keep word of the great Khan’s death from spreading panic across his empire, lest recently conquered vassals fall to the temptation of insurrection. Second, the Mongols were concerned not to be observed choosing their leader’s final resting place, to circumvent thieves trying to retrieve the treasures to be buried with him. Here’s the plan they developed: don’t let anyone see you.

But Genghis Khan’s escort could not disguise a cortege befitting the ruler of the then known world. Whoever came out of the woods or over the hill or out of the garden or along the trail to see the fantastic procession, was killed on the spot.

It’s thought that envoys were sent out to warn villagers away from their path. The Mongols also took care to pass through back roads where they would attract the least attention. They had no interest in a scorched earth policy on lands which belonged to them, whose prosperity paid their tribute and enhanced their Khan’s wealth.

American modern-day mercenaries in Iraq, sent out on missions in barely-armored white SUVs, face a similar imperative to quash witnesses who could report what they saw to forces better prepared to lay in ambush. To this end, the mercenaries post a warning on their vehicles that anyone coming too close will be shot. Trophy videos have found their way to the internet showing the shooting sprees this task sometimes has entailed. Men from AEGIS or BLACKWATER shoot approaching cars, even if their Iraqi drivers have not gotten close enough to read the printed warning.

It speaks to the volatility of Iraq, that our occupation forces, through the mercenaries they employ, find it better to annihilate bystanders sooner than administrate the lands and reap the rewards of protective stewardship.

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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