Saturday, September 18, 2010

The American South Asia Company

Corporations With Armies

Flag of the British East India Company

Ryan Inzana from The Nation

Blackwater's Black Ops
Jeremy Scahill
September 15, 2010
This article appeared in the October 4, 2010 edition of The Nation.

"Over the past several years, entities closely linked to the private security firm Blackwater have provided intelligence, training and security services to US and foreign governments as well as several multinational corporations, including Monsanto, Chevron, the Walt Disney Company, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and banking giants Deutsche Bank and Barclays, according to documents obtained by The Nation. Blackwater's work for corporations and government agencies was contracted using two companies owned by Blackwater's owner and founder, Erik Prince: Total Intelligence Solutions and the Terrorism Research Center (TRC). Prince is listed as the chairman of both companies in internal company documents, which show how the web of companies functions as a highly coordinated operation. Officials from Total Intelligence, TRC and Blackwater (which now calls itself Xe Services) did not respond to numerous requests for comment for this article." Link to full article.

I heard from a Canadian guy, who was in a position to know because he'd done it, that Canadian Forces are trained in certain capacities by Blackwater in its various entities. I suppose Canadian Forces have to be instructed in many branches of technology by industry (the tanks mouldering in the Afghan desert being one), but what does Blackwater know that the Canadian Forces don't? It can't be the elementary business, as Rick Hiller momorably put it, of killing people. We already know that.

Well, this is part of a long tradition, like the British East India Company:

"The status of the Company was further enhanced by the restoration of monarchy in England. By a series of five acts around 1670, King Charles II provisioned it with the rights to autonomous territorial acquisitions, to mint money, to command fortresses and troops and form alliances, to make war and peace, and to exercise both civil and criminal jurisdiction over the acquired areas.[13] In 1711, the Company established a trading post in Canton (Guangzhou), China, to trade tea for silver."

I was surprised to find it still exists and has a website, although I don't think it has its own army.

Flag of the Hudson's Bay Company

Closer to home, the Hudson's Bay Company ran its own court system in its territories, but didn't have its own standing army: perhaps alcohol and tuberculosis were sufficient.

It seems that the confusion of public and private interest has a long history, particularly when money and violence are involved, and that continued confusion is actively encouraged by people who have a lot to gain and nothing to lose.