Monday, October 15, 2007

Blackwater in your neighborhood

In the past I've had some posts about idiocy on the part of police officers, such as using tasers as torture devices to torment people who mouth off at them (uhm, according to the Constitution cops are not supposed to be judge, jury, and executioner -- yes, tasers can kill, inventing a new disease "excited delirium" that has only ever been diagnosed for deaths due to police intervention is just a whitewash). But the situation in Iraq is quite instructive for those Libertopians who believe that the solution is to privatize provision of police services.

The police departments in Iraq are hopeless. They're filled with sectarian militia who spend most of their time engaging in ethnic cleansing of their particular area of operations and little time actually fighting crime. So anybody who's anybody hires a private security company to keep their buildings and persons safe.

The result has more than a little of Dodge City about it. You have private security company A and private security company B, hired to protect competing businesses across the street from each other, getting into pitched gunfights. You have Blackwater, hired to protect various Very Important People, simply kill anybody who gets in their way, and no other security company has the resources of Blackwater so no other security company can protect their own principals from Blackwater. "Justice" in Iraq consists of "he who can hire the biggest baddest bunch of mercenaries wins". The losers are ordinary people like you and me. We can't afford to hire Blackwater to protect us from, uhm, Blackwater (geeze, sounds like a Mafia extortion game, "youse gives me money or youse finds yours building burned down next week!"). In Libertopia, the only winners are the ones who can hire the most guns, and everybody else is the loser, and the loser may very well end up dead.

Here in America, cops have the legal monopoly on deadly force. If a private security guard kills someone, that someone better damn well have been a direct physical threat to the life and safety of said private security guard, or he is going to jail for manslaughter. The cops are for hire, but they're for hire for a stable coalition of city fathers who select our city governments (said selections which are then dutifully voted into office by you and I), and there's no competing batch of cops for hire to a competing batch of city fathers to get into pitched gun battles in the streets that end up with you or I getting killed in the crossfire. So, like democracy itself, police departments suck but the alternatives are far, far worse. And, as usual, Libertopians get this simple fact just as wrong as they get far too many other facts, confusing their Libertopian imaginings with reality -- the triumph of ideology over reality, just as stupid as Bolsheviks, Busheviks, and other such ideological idiots in the end.

-- Badtux the Libertopia-observin' Penguin


  1. i'm about to go down to tombstone for "gunfight week" where we celebrate the fateful morning when the freedom loving clanton/mclowery cowboys stood up to the authoritarian and 2nd amendment ignoring earp clan (with a big assist from the gambling concerns with doc holliday standing in for steve wynn)

    the main issue on that morning? virgil earp had instituted a "no carry" policy with firearms in the town. it was a new enough ordinance that it hadn't been posted yet. the boys was guilty of going heeled in the wild wild west.

    not much progress on the social front is there tux?

  2. Actually it wasn't Virgil Earp's policy, he was just charged with enforcing it and wasn't too eager to enforce it (Wyatt, on the other hand, wanted to take down "bad guys" because he thought it'd help him get elected Sheriff). It was a pretty popular policy town-wide, because most folks just aren't comfortable around a bunch of wild drunken boys carrying guns.

    Libertopians are always whining about how bad guys like Blackwater can't exist in Libertopia because all their victims would get together and grab their own guns and shoot the Blackwater dudes dead. That ignores the fact that most folks don't like violence, which is what allows a violent minority to run roughshod over folks even in places like Iraq where everybody owns an AK-47 and knows how to use it, plus ignores Clauswitz's dictums on the organization of armies and why a small but effective army will always destroy a large but unorganized group of armed civilians (hint: concentration, mobility, firepower on point). Given that, Libertopia seems rather, uhm, divorced from reality. Assuming that everybody is violent and part of a well-organized militia capable of mobilizing and exerting force upon a point simply ignores the fact that every time this has ever happened, it has only been a violent minority which then turned around and enslaved the populace, whether we're talking about the Taliban in Afghanistan or the various Somalian militias in Somalia or the various Lebanese militias during the bad old days of the Lebanese Civil War until the Syrians came in and put an end to it. The Druze up on their mountains are a tiny minority in Lebanon but because they were a violent and well-situated minority (they could shell pretty much anywhere in the Beirut area from their mountains), had power way out of proportion to their size... as do all other violent minorities in a society where there is no government to exert a monopoly on large-scale organized violence.

    - Badtux the Not-Libertopian Penguin


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