Erik Prince began his life in a very fortunate position. His father, Edgar, cofounded Prince Corporation, a large auto company located in Michigan. At a young age, Erik became a shareholder in the company and began to accumulate wealth. As a child, he traveled far and wide with his family; in his travels, he began to understand the advantages created by, and the importance of, free-market economies. As a result, he consistently argued for more conservative economic policies and about the threat of communism. Due to his core beliefs, he became drawn to dysfunctional regions and harbored a desire to clean them up and mitigate the risk of psychopaths that could create real problems.
Although he was fortunate financially, his father did not let him simply follow in his footsteps. Edgar insisted that Erik create his own path and as a result, he graduated from Hillsdale College and became a Navy SEAL. He did, and still does, pride himself on “extreme events”. Soon after graduating, Erik’s father died and so did the Prince Corporation. From the sale, Erik received $50 million dollars.
With his inheritance, Erik followed his purpose and built a training center for special forces, known as Blackwater. Quickly, the business transformed and ascended as a mercenary firm. By the time of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Blackwater was the mercenary army of choice for the Pentagon and by the end of 2006, had contracted more than $1 billion in work from the government of the United States. At that point, there was nothing but success for Prince and his company, but that success was short-lived.
In 2007, Blackwater mercenaries took part in an operation in Afghanistan. During the mission, they claimed they were ambushed, but the Justice Department did not see it that way. During the mission, they killed 14 civilians and four of the mercenaries were convicted of manslaughter. Prince was summoned to Congress to answer questions regarding the operation and the company’s practices. His name became synonymous with Blackwater, which was widely viewed as a toxic, ruthless firm. Eventually, he sold the company at a fraction of its worth and many across the country counted Erik Prince out.
He continued to push his own endeavors. In 2010, Prince moved to Abu Dhabi where he worked on to create an energy-and-mining investment firm, Frontier Resource Group. In Somalia, he also created an anti-piracy force taking on the pirates onshore versus waiting for boats to attack. In the words of Prince, “if you have a wasp problem, you deal with the nest.” In 2014, Prince also cofounded Frontier Services Group, a logistics and security business listed in Hong Kong.
In spite of his past, earlier this year, Erik Prince made another resurgence when he hosted a fundraiser after Robert Mueller got on his case. At his fundraiser, he raised money for Dana Rohrabacher, a congressman tied closely to Putin. In total, only 100 people attended the event, but the guest list featured names such as Oliver North, a key person in the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal, and Matt Gaetz, a member of the house who is big into conspiracies theories.
Since his ten-plus years in the dark, Prince has new-found power and access under the current White House administration. He personally spent more than $125,000 to get Trump elected. His support of Donald Trump came very early in the election. In a podcast, he said, “if you actually want to change things, take power away from a centralized, bloated, and elite-serving government, vote for Donald Trump.”
His real power comes from his connections outside of these financial endeavors. Prince’s sister is Betsy DeVos, the current Secretary of Education. Additionally, when Prince proposed a strategic plan regarding the War in Afghanistan, his ideas were heard and accepted by then Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon.
The plan Prince proposed called for a privatization of the Afghanistan war. Under past officials H.R. McMaster and Rex Tillerson, his ideas did not receive much traction. However, McMaster was replaced by John Bolton and Tillerson was replaced with Mike Pompeo, significantly changing the political dynamic and opening big opportunities for Prince. With the change in the tides, he began to develop his master strategy to implement his plan for Afghanistan.
Last year, Erik Prince began the elaborate plan. On a cool, sunny morning in Washington D.C., he sat outside a small café sitting with one other individual. At this point, he is sharing the early parts of his plan to save America billions of dollars each year and effectively handle the War in Afghanistan. In the early framework, the plan was to involve about 6,000 contractors and only 2,000 US special operations troops. In addition, Afghan pilots would lead in the air with the help of a few contractors, and all would report to the President. Since that time, the plan has clearly become much more public. His full proposal has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and caught the eyes of many, including President Trump.
In recent months, Prince has come under fire from Mueller due to his travel to the Seychelles. It has been claimed that he met a Russian close to Putin there before Trump’s inauguration in hopes of “arranging a back channel” between the Kremlin and the new Trump administration. Prince denies the claim but has testified in front of the House Intelligence Committee regarding the encounter in Seychelles and has stood by his testimony throughout the ordeal. In the end, whether a chance interaction or not, the encounter in Seychelles stifled Prince’s chances of running for a position in the Senate in Wyoming.
No matter the circumstance, Prince seems confident and ambitious. Even with Mueller on his case, he is still pushing his Afghanistan plan. If that doesn’t work, he mas multiple backup plans. Libya still needs a police force and Somalia needs armed boats in their fisheries. Prince has an eye for capturing opportunities and capitalizing on them and will continue to do so despite the political conditions or consequences.