Blackwater USA killings expose impotence of Iraqi government
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Plain Dealer, Cleveland
The latest Iraqi killings by Blackwater USA employees, now under congressional investigation, have led to confusion about the power of the Iraqi government to respond.
The government initially announced that the corporation's license to operate would be revoked. It appears now a law enacted by the occupying regime of Paul Bremer gives security corporations immunity from Iraqi law. The corporation may also be operating without a license at all, similar to dozens of other companies.
If the United States had turned over real governing power to the Iraqis, as it claims it has, then the Iraqi government would have the authority to define what Blackwater or any other corporation can and cannot do to protect the health, safety and well-being of its people.
The same goes for our own government. Corporations receive permission to exist and operate by governments. The public, through local, state and federal government, has the power to enact binding ordinances and change or revoke corporate charters to protect people, communities and the planet. Too often, however, we limit ourselves by merely calling for stiffer fines, increased regulations or suspension of contracts when corporations cause harm.
Shouldn't we use the powers we have to profoundly define and control corporations?
Coleridge is director of the Economic Justice & Empowerment Program, Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee.