Private armies and mercenary groups are more powerful now than ever. But are they really about protecting civilians—or the interests of their corporate masters? Photo credit: US State Dept, International (Green) Zone. Image by Tmaull, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Can the government wrap its arms around so many arms? In the post 9/11 world, America’s military/industrial/intelligence complex (MIC) has grown so large and diverse that even insiders have trouble explaining its many functions and players.

The fact that so much of it is shrouded in secrecy only fuels the public’s misgivings and misunderstandings. Such was the case with Blackwater and its founder, Erik Prince, when Blackwater guards killed 17 civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, in the name of self-defense.

At the height of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, contractor personnel came to outnumber troops in the theatre of war. Blackwater, though not even the largest contractor, became the symbol of that situation. While some of the reasons for public dismay were justified, others were not. Find out what really happened, as WhoWhatWhy’s Jeff Schechtman discusses the ways of government contractors and the future of outsourced warfare with Blackwater founder, Erik Prince.



  • Jeff Schechtman’s career spans movies, radio stations and podcasts. After spending twenty-five years in the motion picture industry as a producer and executive, he immersed himself in journalism, radio, and more recently the world of podcasts. To date he has conducted over ten-thousand interviews with authors, journalists, and thought leaders. Since March of 2015, he has conducted over 315 podcasts for

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I am a long time supporter of and a modest contributor to WhoWhatWhy. For this entire 16:35 minute interview, I wondered why Erik Prince was being given a forum here. While deployed in two wars based on lies, Blackwater’s conduct became so egregious that the company changed its name to Xe. When it was finally sold, the corporate entity became Academi. Only by going deeply into that site can one learn its purpose. Most upsetting, Mr. Prince was allowed to imply that Blackwater personnel in Nisour Square were actually threatened by Iraqi civilians. I suggest that you and everyone who listens to Mr. Prince’s spin read the New York Times article at the hyperlink to see the impossibility of that contention. By the way, when the contractors had their day in court, they walked free with no repercussions.