Posts Tagged ‘mercenary army’

Mercenary armies and the fate of nations

February 10, 2015

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.

Bill O’Reilly wants anti-terror mercenary army

September 25, 2014

oreilly-mercenaries

The above is from Bill O’Reilly’s Monday evening appearance on Fox News. Source: Media Matters.

CBS_This_Morning_-Oreilly

The above is from O’Reilly’s Tuesday morning appearance on CBS News.  Source: Daily Kos.

§§§

For what it’s worth, the United States government already has an elite force for fighting terrorists.  It is called the Joint Special Operations Command.  Whatever can be accomplished through valor, training and military professionalism, they can do.

The problem is that if the U.S. government does not have a clear purpose in waging war, American troops can not accomplish that vague purpose, no matter how dedicated they are nor how skilled in use of deadly force.

The “global war on terror” does not have a clear purpose.  The U.S. government fights against certain terrorists under certain circumstances in the interest of advancing U.S. geopolitical power, while supporting other terrorists (and sometimes the same terrorists) when this fits the U.S. purpose.

Outsourcing U.S. military operations to mercenaries—and the dictionary definition of “mercenary” is “serving merely for pay or sordid advantage”—is intended to solve a political and Constitutional problem, not a military problem.

The political problem is that we the American people are not interested in fighting wars of geopolitical advantage.  We are only willing to fight when we think our own country is threatened.

Terrorism is not such a threat.  We Americans (and the world) are more in danger from the Ebola virus than we are from the Islamic States and its predecessors.  That is why our government has had to lie and exaggerate our perils in order to talk us into war.  Each time, the lies and exaggerations become less believable.

With a mercenary army, the political problem goes away.  Mercenaries would fight whomever they are paid to fight, no questions asked.  The drawback is that they wouldn’t necessarily be American citizens or have any loyalty to the United States.

We would face the historical problem of countries that depend on mercenary fighters, which is how to prevent mercenaries from turning against their employers when that is the more profitable option.

LINK [added later]

10 Frightening Facts About Private Military Companies by Pauli Poisuo for ListVerse.   Hat tip to djgarcia94.