Mercenary armies and the fate of nations

Kelly Vlahos wrote a disturbing article in The American Conservative about the Pentagon’s growing dependence on mercenary troops and about how mercenary companies are becoming just as important as regular troops worldwide.

Use of military contractors offers many short-term conveniences for governments and long-term dangers for the public.

authoritarianism9fd18cHiring mercenaries frees a government from the difficulties of recruitment or a military draft.   Mercenary companies are usually willing to do whatever they’re paid to do, without concern for such things as the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Constitution, the Geneva convention or a sense of military honor.  Their activities are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

The long-term danger is having your country’s national defense dependent on people whose services are for sale to the highest bidder.   That was the situation in the city-states of Renaissance Italy during the time of Machiavelli, and Sean McFate, a writer and former mercenary himself, thinks the world could be returning to that situation.  Very convenient—for the government in power.

The great sociologist Max Weber defined a sovereign government as the institution that had a monopoly on the legitimate use of lethal force within a given area.  But there is nothing that limits a military contractor to selling its services to a government.

Mercenaries can sell their services to anybody that can pay them, be they corporations, political parties, fanatic religious movements or international institutions.

Corporations nowadays operate like private governments and sometimes have the power to bend actual governments to their will, as the big banks are doing in Greece and Ukraine.  But while they have their own security forces, they as yet lack full-fledged armies.  If Vlahos and McFate are right, they might acquire them, too.

LINKS

A Blackwater World Order by Kelley Vlahos for The American Conservative.

Book Review: Sean McFate’s The Modern Mercenary for Scholars and Rogues Literary Journal.

Blackwater Convictions Don’t Mean the End of Mercenary War by Sean McFate for The New Republic.

The nature of a corporation and how it changed in the 1980s by Matt Stoller for Ian Welsh.  About corporations as private governments.

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2 Responses to “Mercenary armies and the fate of nations”

  1. Bill Harvey Says:

    Good one, Phil. That Vietnam Syndrome continues to be a problem for them.

    My go to guy on this is NIck Turse. HIs THE CHANGING FACE OF EMPIRE: SPECIAL OPS, DRONES, SPIES, PROXY FIGHTERS, SECRET BASES, CYBERWARFARE. 100 pages.
    http://www.amazon.com/Changing-Face-Empire-Fighters-Cyberwarfare/dp/1608463109/ref=la_B0034P59TK_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423583434&sr=1-4

    Many of his articles at TOMDISPATCH touch on these topics.
    http://www.tomdispatch.com/authors/nickturse/index.php?pos=1

    Thanks,
    B

    Like

  2. djgarcia94 Says:

    Here’s good listicle on modern “contractors:”

    http://listverse.com/2014/01/07/11-frightening-facts-about-private-military-companies/

    Like

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