BEIRUT — When the US marines were in and out of Lebanon in 1983-1984 some of those I met, when visiting their barracks with American journalist Janet Stevens, to discuss Israel’s use of American cluster bombs against civilians had the habit, as did sailors from the USS New Jersey, of referring to the Lebanese Capital simply as “Root.” Or sometimes they would call it: “The Root” as in, “We came to “The Root” to kick some butt!”
The Marines were responsible for unexploded ordnance clearance in the area around Beirut airport while Italian, French, and a small British force worked in adjoining areas of West Beirut, following the Israeli siege, which sometimes included intensive carpet shelling. The Marines did a good job in their area trying to make it safe for civilians and took 12 casualties, two fatal, from Israeli dropped American cluster bombs. Unfortunately, President Reagan ordered the American forces to support the Israeli-backed Phalange government of Amin Gemayel against the popular Lebanese resistance and the marines were soon viewed as being partisan participants in a domestic conflict. This led to the Marines departure following events of October 1983, and despite recent Israeli proposals, it is fairly unlikely that either American or NATO forces will arrive in Lebanon anytime soon.
But Blackwater USA just might.
Despite a series of publicly announced “disassociations” periodically issued from the media offices at the Pentagon and State Department, plus a couple of image polishing name changes including currently, Xe Services LLC (Xe being short for Xena, the mythical goddess of war) the hydra-headed Blackwater (BW), founded in 1997 by Erik Prince and Al Clark, is still quite active.
BW continues to sign US taxpayer-funded contracts whilst spreading its tentacles around the region, ever scanning the horizon and sniffing out softer underbelly money makers to meet the payroll of its $500 per day operatives. Prince told the US Congress last year that his organization is “A professional organization serving as a solutions provider to the U.S. government. We operate in the defense, training, logistics, and intelligence spaces, priding ourselves on getting the job done right”.
Two weeks ago, in Leidschendam-Voorburg, which abuts The Hague and is the site of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Blackwater USA representatives looking to land a lucrative bounty hunter contract with the STL’s registrar’s office, preferred to label Hezbollah simply as “‘Bullahs”. Apparently it’s some sort of BW macho lingo term from the organizations combat training bases in North Carolina and California. Some Blackwater mercenaries also used the “Bullahs” label in Iraq in addition to racist terms like “Ragheads”, “Hajiis”, and “Sand Niggers.”
In addition, Blackwater representatives, presumably offering “to get the job done right,” have reportedly met with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and will again during Barak’s current visit to Washington. According to an email message from a Congressional Staffer who works for a Committee that receives intelligence briefings, BW has been getting cozy with Israel and may be in the process of setting up a BW “training center” in occupied Palestine north of Kabri which is about 20 miles south of UNIFIL’s HQ in Naqoura along the Lebanon-Palestine ‘blue line’.
Barak, according to the same source, will meet on February 26 with National Security chief Tom Donilon and Dennis Ross to discuss Iran, Hezbollah the STL and the impact of recent regional events on the Israeli-Iranian strategic balance in the region. During his meetings with BW representatives, his message to BW may be along the lines of, “Hey, don’t worry. We’ll hold your coats”, as Israel increasingly considers following the American lead and hires mercenaries to confront its enemies.
Barak may in point of fact have a job for BW.
Based on sources who attended the recent Special Tribunal for Lebanon media briefings, as well as sources in Congress and North Carolina, it appears that the STL Registrar’s January 17 announcement that the Court might be seeking help of the International community to arrest and deliver to the Hague those against whom Judge Daniel Frensen is widely expected to issue arrest warrants, is indeed generating applications.
Following the STL’s implied job announcement, Blackwater’s HQ, still based in Moyock, North Carolina was abuzz with talk of “business opportunities.” According to a stringer for the Daily Southerner in nearby Tarboro, NC, who claims that she dates “BW special forces guys”: “Who better to go after the terrorists with arrest warrants from that Court than our local Confederate bounty hunters par excellence?”
By the morning of January 20 and again on the 21st, Blackwater representatives, who arrived two days earlier in The Hague on a flight from Israel, tried to convince the Office of the STL Registrar, and, that evening, anyone listening in the nearby Hilton Hotel Grand Café Pearl, that Blackwater could do the job better than Interpol. All they needed to know was that the proposed per head bounty dollar amount was guaranteed and they would do the rest.
After a dinner of pan fried wild sea bass and enjoying bottles of German wine, the more they drank and partied, which reportedly lasted until the wee hours, the more the Blackwater reps claimed to actually relish a long overdue fight with “Bullahs.” One BW operative, according to two Dutch journalists who were present for part of the evening, told the groups “tourist hostess” attractive dates, ” when even one of them “Bullahs” needs to get his butt busted, cuffed, and dragged to the Hague, we can do the job young ladies! Ya got our word on that!”
Will Blackwater help I reoccupy Lebanon?
Ehud Barak’s statements this week about Israel reoccupying south Lebanon might lead some to muse whether the Defense Minister perhaps forgot why, when he was prime minister, he ordered the precipitous Israeli nighttime stealth pullout, during which some local villagers claim they saw some elements of the Golani brigade literally skidding down the hill at Maron al Ras during the night of May 23, 2000 on their back sides as other IDF units fled across the exits points south of Aita Schab and Bint Jbeil with resistance fighters hot on their tails.
In fact the reason then Israeli Prime Minister Barak ordered the IDF out of Lebanon, was partially under electoral pressure from the Israeli public, because Israeli casualties were skyrocketing. Barak also acted on the advice of his well-paid campaign advisor and Bill Clinton confidant, James Carville who advised Barak that ‘moderate Israelis’ would vote for him if he did. As it turned out James underestimated the number of ‘moderate Israelis’, and Barak lost the election by a wide margin to Ariel Sharon who got 1,698,077 (62.39%) to Barak’s 1,023,944 (37.61%).
“Funny Jimmy”, as he’s known in the Big Easy where he grew up, returned to the “James Carville and Mary Matlin show.” Not one to easily give up on lost causes, it is being rumored in Washington that James, the apparent eternal devotee of Le and La Clinton, is spending much of his time these days trying to figure out how to get Hilary elected President and he is studying the odds for the 2012 Democratic primary. Carville, and others including remnants of his former campaign team in Israel, see the possibility of the Democrats dumping Obama, as doable if former IDF reservist, Rahm Emanuel, the new Mayor of Chicago, will dump Obama, sign on with Hilary, and bring the US Israeli lobby and their cash with him.
In his free time James is working as an adman for Miracle Whip in a TV commercial which features “Funny Jimmy” Carville and others expressing either their love or hate for the imitation mayonnaise spread. “If you’ve got these fancy, dancy mustards and stuff like that, that’s kind of an elite thing,” says Carville. “Miracle Whip is the essence of America. We are a simple people, very trusting and only wanting to do God’s will.”
Contrary to the Israeli lobby spin that Israel left Lebanon in May of 2000 as a unilateral goodwill gesture to advance the fake “peace process”, IDF statistics leading up to Hezbollah’s expulsion of the IDF and the collapse of its collaborationist South Lebanese Army (SLA) match those explained recently by Hezbollah’s Deputy Secretary-General, former chemistry professor Naim Qassim who is perhaps the leading expert on exactly what transpired in South Lebanon during this period. Professor Qassim’s book, “Hezbollah from Within” is the most authoritative volume on the subject of Hezbollah…to date.
Also, Israeli TV audiences had grown weary of watching footage, often courtesy of Al Manar, of Israeli soldiers killed in Lebanon as a result of Resistance operations. Even today, fighters who were on the scene in the spring of 2000, report that they were surprised at the Israeli debacle as were the Israeli SLA Lebanese collaborators. In some instances, retreating Israeli soldiers used their former Lebanese “partners and brothers” as human shields hoping that the Lebanese resistance would not fire on fellow Lebanese as the Israelis fled. The IDF did not inform their SLA allies that they were withdrawing. Ever hopeful of igniting a civil war in Lebanon, the new IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Israeli intelligence meticulously left behind lists of the names of many of its Lebanese collaborators, hoping for a Lebanese-Lebanese bloodbath. As it turned out, Hezbollah quickly, and some say reluctantly, instructed their units to adhere to a strict policy or no retribution and to “let bygones be bygones.” Only modest punishment was administered by the Lebanese State Judiciary partly because the number of Israeli (US taxpayer) paid killers was high and there was not enough prison space to house them and also because Hezbollah wanted to avoid sectarian strife since a large percentage of the collaborators were from one Lebanese sect and cries of “sectarian targeting” were predictable. The issue of whether Hezbollah was too lenient with these collaborators following the expulsion of the IDF is, eleven years later, still sometimes discussed in Southern villages among families who lost loved ones to the turncoats—many of the latter living today, as next door neighbors to their victims’ families.
If the STL does decide to hire Blackwater USA to execute any arrest warrants in Lebanon, or if Israel decides to hire “seek and kill” Blackwater units during its predicted coming invasion, whatever that does for Xe’s Stock prices, it’s BW’s stock of mercenaries that will be eagerly anticipated in Lebanon.
As for Barak’s boast that the new IDF Chief Benny Gantz “knows south Lebanon” the career assassin might want to recall, as he remembers why Israel withdrew from Lebanon in May of 2000, that as one Hezbollah veteran told this observer this week, “South Lebanon knows Benny Gantz”.