Trump Stays Guarded on Defense as Erik Prince Lurks in the Shadows

Controversial former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince stays away from the limelight as Trump Team hints at continuing Special Forces Deployments in the Middle East.

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A wave of US air strikes in Yemen on Thursday night is set to herald in a new round of Special Forces deployments across the Middle East, with the possible involvement of “contracted force” provided by one time Navy Seal Erik Prince,  according to the Oakland Institute. In an exclusive report apparently given to ABC news by an alleged military insider, described by the news channel as a “veteran of 20 years of secret military operations”, it was claimed that “authority to broaden counterterrorism operations overseas had occurred in recent months.” The latest operations have come as a response to intelligence gathered during the course of January’s raid on a terrorist compound in Yemen in which a US Navy Seal died, according to the mainstream media.

Meanwhile, the Russian news service RT was making claims that US Special Forces teams are on the ground in both Syria and Iraq, “with the declared goal of achieving the military defeat of Islamic State”. This would tend to confirm the findings of a recently released report from the Oakland Institute which, in addition to clarifying that the annihilation of Isis is now the key driver of the Trump Administration’s Global Foreign Policy agenda, also alleges that the principal strategist responsible for the planning of these specialist operations, intended to take the Islamic State down once and for all, is the former CEO of the private military contractor Blackwater, Erik Prince.

Erik Prince is the brother of Betsy DeVos, Trump’s controversial Secretary for Education, whose School Vouchers program has come under attack from opponents who claim that it could lead to the collapse of the public school system in the US. Earlier in the year, the Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill first broke the original story which alleged that Prince had been secretly advising Trump on defense issues. According to Jeremy Scahill’s story, which appeared in the Intercept on January 17th, both Betsy DeVos and Erik Prince “gave large sums of money to a Trump Super PAC.” A fact confirmed by the TRT news website, which claimed that Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings for the Pro Trump Political Action Committee in question appear to indicate that Prince donated $100,000 to the PAC in September 2016; at the same time as his Mother, Elisa, gave $50,000 to the same cause.

Although TRT could not confirm when exactly it was that Prince had first got involved with Team Trump, allegations that surfaced in the Daily Kos, just two days after the Intercept story first hit the headlines, seem to suggest that he had “helped hack the election for Trump”. According to the Daily Kos, Prince had “played a key role in a conspiracy by rogue FBI agents to throw the election to Trump.” Facts apparently confirmed by Seth Abramson of the Huffington Post. Prince’s connections, through his former involvement as a Defense contractor for the Bush administration, with Republican heavyweights such as Donald Rumsfeld, not to mention his links to Steve Bannon of Breitbart, are likely to have established him as a key player in Trump’s inner circle.

Trump’s strategy in the Middle East has been described as “mixing personal business and foreign policy agenda” by Anuradha Mittal, founder and executive director of the Oakland Institute, herself an “internationally renowned expert on trade development, human rights, and agriculture issues”, according to Sharmini Peries of TRNN. In an interview with Peries, broadcast by the Baltimore based Real News Network, on 27th February, Mittal described the use of “contracted force” as the lynch pin of the new Trump Administration Middle East Policy Agenda. If this should be proven correct we could see Prince among the principal beneficiaries of the huge increase in defense spending proposed in Donald Trump’s first budget reported last week on the Guardian website.

So what does this mean for US involvement in the Middle East? Following his previous involvements with the Bush Administration, Prince was severely criticized by former U.S. Representative and candidate for the Democratic nomination for President in the 2004 and 2008 Presidential elections, Dennis Kucinich. According to Kucinich, “if war is privatized, private contractors have a vested interest in keeping the war going. The longer the war goes on, the more money they make.” These claims were based on the apparent rise in payments to Blackwater from a mere $200,000 in government contracts in 2000 to $48 million in 2004, to $350 million in 2005, to over $500 million in 2006. Prince’s involvement with the US Government was finally brought to a bloody and violent end with the Nisour Square Massacre, in which employees of his company ruthlessly killed no fewer than seventeen Iraqi civilians.

 

Picture Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eli J. Medellin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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Rupert Ferguson

Journalist at Distract The Media
Rupert Ferguson is a published author, journalist and radical film maker with specialist interests in local government, politics, environmental issues and Traditional English and Scottish Folk Music. His academic work has been endorsed by the likes of Sir Melvyn Bragg, the late Sir James Watt KBE and the former head of Humanities at Bingley College in Yorkshire, England; James Reed.

Having begun his career as a junior researcher at Thames Television in London, he has written for a wide range of publications including 'The Brighton Reporter', 'Durham Town and Country', 'The Brighton and Hove People' and 'The New Celtic Review'. As an exhibited film maker he has been a regular contributor and award nominee at the Portobello Film Festival in London; and has seen his work shown at the annual London Film Makers' Convention at the prestigious Round House Theatre.

As well as receiving enthusiastic reviews from BBC Radio 4 and others for his book on Sir Walter Scott, his pioneering work as an Underground Film Maker on the fledgeling Goa Trance Scene has set him in a field of his own amongst many of his contemporaries; both in the UK, where he presently resides, and elsewhere. Current projects presently in hand include a book centred on his 'Legendary London' series of documentary films, which have stimulated an enthusiastic response from the likes of Glenda Jackson and others; and a novel set in France and Edinburgh during the eighteenth century Scottish Enlightenment.

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