Breakfast With Blackwater

Two unlikely allies met for breakfast last month in New York to discuss a possible collaboration: Mia Farrow, actress and passionate activist for Darfur refugees, and Erik Prince, founder and CEO of the government contractor, Blackwater Worldwide.

Farrow told ABC News that Blackwater, despite its controversial history and allegations of murdering civilians in Iraq, might be able to help the "hopelessly under-equipped" African Union forces deployed in Darfur with logistics and training.

"Blackwater has a much better idea of what an effective peace-keeping mission would look like than western governments," Farrow told ABC News from a refugee camp in near the Darfur border. Farrow said those governments have been unsuccessful in standing up to the Sudanese government and bringing peace to the region.

Experts disagree, saying there is no "quick fix" to the complex problems in Darfur, and that Blackwater is no exception.

"It's preposterous to think there is some magic silver bullet that takes the form of Blackwater or any other private military contractor to solve the problems in Darfur," said J. Steven Morrison, a Sudan expert for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Sudan and its militias are blamed for most of the violence in the conflict with rebels in Darfur, the western province where the United Nations estimates up to 300,000 have been killed in the past five years.

Farrow said she acknowledged that the idea of working with Blackwater was "controversial," but said she was "curious about Blackwater's ideas" about to how to help the situation.

Though Farrow said that it is unlikely that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir would allow Blackwater into Darfur, she said the Darfur refugees are desperate and any help the company could provide would be welcome.

Prince, meanwhile, has reportedly said that with about 250 professionals, Blackwater could transform roughly one thousand of the African Union soldiers into an elite and highly mobile force.

"I'm so sick of hearing that nothing can be done," Prince told the Wall Street Journal last month, calling the Janjaweed, a militia force backed by the Sudanese government, an "unfettered bully."

"No one has stood up to them," he told the Journal. "If they were met by a mobile quick reaction force of African Union soldiers, the Janjaweed would quickly learn their habits were not sustainable."

Prince also told the Associated Press in July that the military "can't be all things to all people" all the time. "There are always going to be some pieces that the private sector can help in."

Prince's spokesperson confirmed that he met with Farrow in New York, but said that since the U.S. government is the company's main client, he would not make any further comments on the situation in Darfur, his possible involvement there, or how governments have handled the peace-keeping mission.

Morrison said that though Prince might have some good ideas about how to better equip the African Union forces, the Darfur situation is so complex with regards to both politics and security that Blackwater's involvement could prove to increase the violence in the region.

"Darfur is the largest humanitarian life sustaining operation in the world," he said, noting that the international community spends $1 billion per year on relief aid for the 2.5 million people living in refugee camps.

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