Saturday, September 13, 2008

Jeremy Scalhill

Visit of Journalist Jeremy Scahill, October 30, 2008

This event will bring independent scholar and journalist Jeremy Scahill to speak to a
wide university audience on October 30, from 5-7. He is also scheduled to meet with two
grad/undergraduate seminars in Communications that day. Depending on how much money we
raise for this event, there will also be an opportunity to meet with one or two other
small groups of faculty and students.

Scahill is a nationally known and highly regarded journalist whose recent contributions
to understanding the political, social, international, legal, military, gender, and
business/economic implications of the war in Iraq have been receiving a great deal of
prominent attention both at home and around the world, Several of us have read his
prize-winning book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World?s Most Powerful Mercenary Army,
which is not narrowly about the meteoric rise of one particular private security firm,
but about the links of a vast number of conservative politicians in Congress and other
sectors of the Federal Government, including the Executive Branch, the CIA and the FBI,
to a variety of free-market mercenary corporate enterprises, of which Blackwater is
simply the best known exemplar. Those enterprises include the expansion of American
corporations?such as oil producers?abroad, as well as the concurrent expansion of the
business of providing private security to these corporations, not least because they
operate in areas of the globe where nation-state armies (including that of the US) cannot
easily be deployed, whether for practical or geopolitical reasons. This research has
been breathtakingly revelatory with respect to the hidden processes by which American
democracy can be undermined. There remains little public awareness of the threat such
privatized militaries pose to civil liberties at home and international law, since they
are removed from the kind of accountability and prosecution which the US military has to
observe. Furthermore, as Scahill demonstrates, when privatized firms make millions of
dollars from the capacity to fight wars, the incentives for taking peace seriously
diminish. Profits trump international law, while American taxpayers pick up the tab of
rising national deficits and shaky financial markets.

Professor Morantz-Sanchez recently had the pleasure of meeting Scahill and hearing him
give a talk: he is a dynamic and inspiring speaker and an entirely accessible and
engaging individual--generous, down to earth, but also charismatic. He has received
numerous awards for his reporting, including the prestigious George Polk Award, which he
won twice. In the past, he has written extensively from Yugoslavia (recently debating
Harvard Professor Samantha Powers on the issue of Serbia and Kosovo) and Nigeria. During
both the Clinton and Bush Administrations, his acute and perceptive reports from Iraq,
while a correspondent for Democracy Now! , have earned
him widespread praise. He is currently a Puffin Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute.
Blackwater: The Rise of the World?s Most Powerful Mercenary Army (2007), his first book,
has been widely reviewed, creating somewhat of a sensation among politicians, critics,
and general readers alike.

Sample reviews of Blackwater:

?A crackling exposé of the secretive military contractor Blackwater.?
New York Times

?[Scahill] is a one-man truth squad.?
Bill Moyers
?Scahill provided me with information which I have not been able to get from the U.S.
military?.I?ve read more from Mr. Scahill than I got from our own government.?
Representative Marcy Kaptur, Defense Appropriations Committee

?Fascinating and magnificently documented?.Jeremy Scahill?s new book is a brilliant
exposé and belongs on the reading list of any conscientious citizen.?
Scott Horton, International and Military Law Expert, Columbia University Law School

?Blackwater being rarely out of the news lately, this is a very useful survey of modern
mercenaries, or, as they prefer to be called, ?private security contractors? in the
?peace and stability industry?.Scahill is a sharp investigative writer?.?
The Guardian

?Scahill?s page-turning collection of intrigue and insight into the underworld of
privatized warfare is well researched, thoroughly documented, and as a result extremely
The Globe and Mail

?[T]his is no uninformed partisan screed?.Meticulously documented and encyclopedic in
scope? a comprehensive and authoritative guide?.this book serves as a provocative
primer for advancing the debate.?
Bill Sizemore, Pulitzer-prize nominated journalist, Virginian-Pilot 2007

1 comment:

Doug said...

Take Jeremy Scahill with a pinch of salt I'm afraid. Despite numerous citations in his book, and frequent mention in his articles and media appearances, the awared winning investigative reporter has never bothered to interview anyone at IPOA. On the contrary, we made numerous efforts to meet and talk with during the year he wrote his book, all of which were rebuffed or ignored. Even if he fundamentally disagrees with the use of the private sector in support of stability and peace operations, considering the focus of his book, wouldn’t a chat with the primary industry trade association have made at least a wee bit of sense - from an investigative perspective?

-Doug Brooks, President, International Peace Operations Association