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Solid Reflections Part 3 of 3

March 29, 2009

A Different Perspective on Metal Gear Solid 4 – Black Waters…

By Saiful Islam

The final portion of the game which really struck a cord with me was the focus of PMCs or private military companies. In the game the increased use of PMCs results in a power shift in military control with countries relying heavily on lawless mercenaries to deliver the fire power for a “quick and effective solution”. What is shocking is the amount of military companies being hired by the imperialist United States of America in Iraq outside the gaming world. According to some reports, the number of contractors operating the Iraq during 2007 was up to 180,000. That’s a huge amount of immune mercenaries operating in civilians territories. Indeed the high profile case of Blackwater whose employees randomly started shooting into a market place killing 17 innocent civilians exemplifies the problems of PMCs.  Because they are not a country, they are not strictly speaking bound by the rules of engagement and codes of war which other countries are.  They are, in fact non-combatants, combatant understood in the meaning given by the Geneva Convention, (Article 43.2, Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Vicitims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977) for the PMCs are not under a “command responsible”.  In order to be under a “command responsible” the PMC would have to be formally incorporated into the imperialist US Armed forces.

The relationship between the PMCs and the US is a horizontal one, as opposed to a recognised army’s vertical one, thus cementing the notion that PMCs are nothing but de facto modern day mercenary firms. (For definition of mercenaries, see UN General Assembly Resolution 44/34 International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, United Nations General Assembly, 72 plenary, December 4 1989, art. 1 – although the requirements of a mercenary is not met if applied to a PMC, it is argued that a PMC is a logical extension of mercenary enterprises – a more organised, business-glossed mercenary enterprise and thus the Resolution should be amended to include them, particularly when their acts and status under law is taken into account.)

It is ironic that Bush, in order to torture the Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, played gymnastics with legal semantics and designated them the status of “enemy-combatant” thus circumventing the Prisoner of War status afforded by the Geneva Convention in order to perpetrate the most vile of crimes in the 21st Century – Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghuraib and all the other secret torture cells around the globe.  The US is in reality utilising non-combatants” itself to its advantage: it provides a get-out notion that the acts of the PMCs would be the responsibility of the PMCs, not the US Army. PMCs which could not care less about the lives of men and the honours of women who are raped daily by them. Yes. Soldiers who are sent to liberate the people of Iraq are raping Muslim women.  After just this one point, who would not hate the imperialist America?

The PMCs are operating in an ultra-jurisdiction, ultra vires fashion, wreaking havoc wherever they may please without the fear of accountability. Because of this legal murkiness other contracting firms have been also been using heavy handedness. The Australian military company Unity Resources for instance were reported to have shot dead two women in a car in Iraq, whilst the children in the back were still in there staring at their mother’s corpses. The sickening reality is that they can do this because the media is censored and steered as and when required. The system is controlled, just like the Patriot system in MGS4. Proof of this is the fact that initially, allegations against Blackwater before the market massacre were nonchalantly ignored and later inquiries into the Blackwater murders were blocked by American officials – points which were hardly given any air time.  Nevertheless the outrage that was sparked in Iraq by the Iraqi people and eventually the world over resulted in the revocation of the immunity which they had and the criminals were tried. The outcome? Damages offered. No apologies.

A war involves bloodshed and violence. It is fought by people representing nations and in its own ideological vacuum, is fighting for a “just cause”. PMCs on the other hand have no purpose except money. They are glorified mercenaries and hired hitmen doing the dirty work of their payor, with nothing to fight for. Thus, they intrinsically have no ethical code to work from or for, reducing war to nothing but a business venture with killing just becoming a chore, or as Old Snake says, “war becomes routine”. An enlisted army soldier operates by the codes of war, rules of engagement and can be court martialed when there is a breach of these codes. Armies are under the scrutiny of the public eye. PMC employees are just that, employees outside the command responsible of the US army.

But who cares? The dead cannot do anything. They are another set of corpses; victims of American Hegemony. For America and her acomplices in her crimes, it is another stage set in the Great Game of expansionism. Which game? MGS4? No. In MGS4 there is a Solid Snake who thwarts the Great Game, giving hope to the avid gamer for a change. We are talking about the real Great Game. Despite the many parallels between the game and reality, the reality is meeker and ventriloquism of global politics all too real.

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