If the U.S spent the last year waving goodbye to Iraq in the rear-view, there certainly wasn’t much of a reckoning for the rotten and ultimately counterproductive abuse private security guards visited upon innocent Iraqis throughout the course of the seven- year war there. Nothing symbolizes this more than the New Year’s dismissal of murder charges against five Blackwater Worldwide guards who were accused of blasting away at 17 innocent men, women and children in the heart of Nisoor Square in September 2007. The judge has tossed out this explosive case not on the merits of the charges, but because Department of Justice prosecutors tried to hinge their case on testimony the guards gave immediately after the incident, when the guards believed they were under immunity.

So the American government bungled the case. This will no doubt cause a firestorm on the Baghdad streets, but at this point, since they are in the rear-view, their cries will be no more than a vague whisper here in the States. I mean, the Afghans are getting restive after a series of NATO airstrikes allegedly killed upwards of 20 innocent Afghans this week, but no one is talking about it here, and we’re supposedly paying attention to that war.

As for Blackwater, it gets quite a New Year’s “clean slate” — the chances are slim, reportedly, that U.S prosecutors will launch a successful appeal in the Nisoor case. Everyone seems to acknowledge Blackwater’s global war operations (now under the moniker “Xe” and new management) have been crooked as a dog’s hind leg, but Blackwater/Xe, thanks to brilliant connections in Washington, including former CIA, military and current purse string holders on the Hill, always seems to land on it’s feet. It’s not like Nisoor was hobbling Xe’s action anyway: aside from staying in Baghdad despite an Iraqi government ban, and its secret U.S-funded endeavors in Pakistan, Xe is poised for more lucrative and (less covert) contracts training Afghan security personnel. If Afghan cops are already considered more despicable than the Taliban in large swaths of theĀ  country …well, one gets the point.

So Happy New Year to Blackwater/Xe and all of the war profiteers who enjoy lush war-generated employment opportunities while the rest of us look towards 2010 with a mixed measure of trepidation and hope, and the people of Iraq wave us goodbye with no doubt an even more acute sense of trepidation, and a little less hope.