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Michael B. Laskoff Headshot

There is No "Z" in Blackwater

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"B" is so yesterday -- Bush, Bechtel and Blackwater. Bechtel has already moved to the Middle East, Bush has retreated to retreated to Texas bunker. Blackwater, however, isn't backing down. Far more sensibly, it is changing its name to Xe -- as in "Z" -- which is how the company would now like to be known. Please note that there is no "M" in "Xe", so hopefully you won't think of words like mercenary, murder or mercantile either. In fact, management would like you to refer to their US operations as "US Training Center." That certainly sounds friendly.

The Bard famously asked, "What's in a name..." That question was rather brilliantly answered by Philip Morris when it changed its name to Altria and describing itself as a company, "...which owns and develops financially disciplined businesses that are leaders in responsibly providing adult tobacco consumers with superior branded products." That sounds far better than the leading the purveyor of beer and lung cancer causing products like Marlboros.

And just as Philip Morris did not change its ways voluntarily, I think that it is safe to assume that Blackwater will not either. This is a private company that has grown rich on taxpayer dollars but has spent most of the past seven years not having to obey any law -- Iraqi, American or military. In other words, Blackwater is used to being a non-state actor that answers to no one. Presumably, if you are reared on that culture, it is hard to subject yourself to the law. You can change your name until the cows come home, but the company's character will not change.

Mercenaries are a fact of life, as is marketing. Changing your name does not change what you have done, but changing the Commander In Chief can lead to new restrictions. So instead of pondering new names, consider some oldies but goodies, like the Constitutions or the Geneva Convention.