It seems as if no one but Steve Bannon is buying Blackwater Founder Erik Prince’s new pitch for a mercenary “viceroy” to finish the war in Afghanistan. Prince has been hitting the cable news circuit with his plan to get a nex gen Blackwater into play in the Middle Eastern theater. Unfortunately for Prince, his administration is already full to the brim with opinions on how best to win Afghanistan. They can’t seem to agree on a strategy of their own, but almost everyone in the White House and Pentagon agree on one thing: Prince’s plan is not the way to go.
That doesn’t bode well for Prince no matter how many cable news shows he appears on. McMaster is against privatizing Afghanistan, as is Jared Kushner. A former defense official says no one else is on board either, not even Trump, despite the President’s open desire to find an Afghanistan strategy that is completely different from President Obama’s. One of the predominant ideas bouncing around is a troop surge, but with Trump’s interest in distinguishing himself from Obama and the administration’s budget woes, there is no clear sense of how the surge would be structured or paid for.
The only reason Prince has even had a chance to make a case for Frontier Services Group is because McMaster has been struggling to get the powers that be to agree on a single plan, leaving the floor open to spitballing from third parties and private citizens like Prince. It doesn’t help that Trump apparently can’t really keep up with the strategies McMaster is proposing. That speaks less to the viability and appeal of Prince’s concept and more to the general disfunction of the Trump administration, which is run less with a top-down chain of command than the structure of a three ring circus.
Then there are the troubling associations Prince’ has been evoking as he tries to sell his latest guns-for-hire shop. His repeated references to the East India Company necessitated immediately backpedaling to explain he has no intention of colonizing Afghanistan through his new Frontier Services Group. Nor did Prince’s praise for the Vietnam-era Phoenix Program inspire much confidence, given that the Phoenix Program is largely associated with assassination and torture. That’s already a can of controversy that even Trump can’t spin into gold, and would hardly lead to the kind of positive headlines the President craves. From Trump’s perspective especially, it’s easy to see that Prince’s plan would simply be bad business.
(Via The Daily Beast)