Blackwater’s “Rwanda”

The fantasies of Blackwater, the Michigan firm of mercenaries and as contractor to imperial powers. Also, how it employs Africa as a rhetorical device to get more business.

A view of the Kibumba refugee camp. An estimated 1.2 million Rwandan refugees fled to Zaire after a civil war erupted in their country (SRA Andy Dunaway).

I know we’ve been hearing about evil Erik Prince and his name-swapping mercenaries for years (Blackwater, Xe, my personal favorite Academi, and the latest, Greystone). But I only recently discovered how close all of this is to my hometown. Hell, from their “idyllic Dutch hamlet” in Holland (Michigan) the Prince family has formed and backed some of the biggest and most powerful militant Christian groups in the world. Just check out this interactive map.

Readers of this blog will remember my interest in the sexualized “guilt-based aggression” at the heart of various African-saving campaigns launched this year. Now that I’ve also started paying attention to Prince’s attempts to clean up Blackwater’s image, I am fascinated by how often the word “Rwanda” is pushed forward in order to win approval for military missions.

It’s here on CNN, the Boston Globe, Men’s Journal, and debated here in a West Michigan newspaper.

And this gentleman (in the video), who makes up history, worries about South Africa “becoming another Rwanda.” He calls on Blackwater to start up some kibbutzim in the Outlands. It makes sense since Blackwater has already hired men from South Africa’s notorious Apartheid-era Special Forces. His video message is long, and he spits or drips a good deal of fluid, so I’ll get to the point:

“Rwandan Genocide” is the polite way to say “Black Africa.”

Luckily, our Youtube organizer appeals for calm. To avoid another Rwanda, he is going to go through women:

In terms of journalistic and intelligence, gathering women are extremely important, cuz women can breach through the racial divide: because they’re less considered a threat, by such terrorist organizations as the ANC youth league I would say. Particularly important I would say would be…African women who are educated, and understand that the Western way of life is actually…is going to provide more material wealth to their children and better survival for their children.

There is plenty of guilting in this Blackwater fantasy. Think about those poor Rwandan women who could not save their children. But he’s got a lot to learn from Prince. Now he was at his finest on ‘Hotel Rwanda’ in this 2007 interview:

CHARLIE ROSE: So it’s a support mission. It wasn’t, as someone also said about you, because of how much you love the Navy Seals, that you have dreamed of creating a private army that could be a lightning quick response and deal with circumstances like Rwanda, like Darfur, and perhaps other hot spots, essentially saying “let me take care of it, I can do this. I have the men, I have the skill, I have the training, I have the know-how. Let me take over some of the responsibilities of peacekeeping in the world.”

ERIK PRINCE: No. That’s too far of an assumption. But who can watch the movie “Hotel Rwanda” and not wish it had a different outcome?


ERIK PRINCE: Who didn’t wish that the U.N. would have sent troops or yanked those Belgian commandos back there, to secure that hotel and to provide some safe havens? I mean, you let almost a million people in a country about the size of Maryland get killed by farm tools over four months.

Further Reading