Monday, August 23, 2010

Mercenaries

Charles Glass compares the past, when "the American Army did its own fighting and protected itself," with the present, when "the Army hires private contractors to protect it" — Barack Obama, Dick Cheney, and Privatized War. "The reason most countries have armies, or at least the reason they say they do, is to protect their citizens, territory and liberties from attack," he writes. "If the army you pay to protect you has to pay someone else to protect it, something is up."

What is up, he fails to mention, is that our army does not "protect [our] citizens, territory and liberties from attack" and everyone knows it. Few admit it, of course, because it is sacriligious to do so. If our "citizens, territory and liberties" were really under threat (from abroad), there would be no lack of volunteers. Thus, mercenaries are needed.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Stephen said...

Another point missed by Mr. Glass: in days past, when faced by threats from non-state actors that nevertheless did not pose an existential threat to the country's citizens, territories, and liberties, the United States did not resort to bloated standing armies and perpetual states of war. Rather, we issued letters of marque and reprisal and allowed enterprising privateers ("mercenaries," if you must) to handle matters.

Of course, today's military-intelligence-industrial complex is a far cry from those days. Nevertheless, there is a kernel of days gone by in the use of private contractors such as Blackwater, CACI, et al.

12:03 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

I'm all for letters of marque and reprisal. Ron Paul proposed them with two acts after 9/11.

12:07 AM  
Anonymous Pints in NYC said...

Machiavelli had great advice re: mercs -

1. If they're capable, they could be bought off by the otherside and used against you;

2. If they're not capable, you wouldn't want them in the first place.

Go with citizen soldiers. If a free citizenry doesn't want to defend itself, they either know what they want, will get what they deserve, or both

8:03 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

"If a free citizenry doesn't want to defend itself, they either know what they want, will get what they deserve, or both."

That's about the most succinct political statement I've heard in a long time.

1:12 AM  
Blogger Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Joshua: It can also apply to high school students (who are, admittedly, not free) and their requirements. If they don't want to do their work, they either know what they want, will get what they deserve, or both.

1:34 AM  

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