Summary: This article discusses a possible side-effect of the US government creating large numbers of highly skilled mercs, based on people the government itself trained.
For centuries — since the end of the thirty Years War in 1648 — the major western nations have strove to eliminate the scourge of mercenaries. During the Bush Jr Administration much of that work was thoughtlessly undone. We’re just starting to see the folly of this policy.
“Blackwater’s Black Ops“, Jeremy Scahill, The Nation, 15 September 2010 — Deserves to be read in full! It’s a follow-up to his “The Secret US War in Pakistan” (The Nation, 7 December 2009). Excerpt:
Over the past several years, entities closely linked to the private security firm Blackwater have provided intelligence, training and security services to US and foreign governments as well as several multinational corporations, including Monsanto, Chevron, the Walt Disney Company, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and banking giants Deutsche Bank and Barclays, according to documents obtained by The Nation. … One of the most incendiary details in the documents is that Blackwater, through Total Intelligence, sought to become the “intel arm” of Monsanto, offering to provide operatives to infiltrate activist groups organizing against the multinational biotech firm.
Scott Horton at the blog of Harper’s mentions another probable evil from this:
All corporate majors today have acute security concerns—for the safety of their personnel, particularly executives, the movement of products, and their commercial operations. They also have a strong desire to know more about their competition and business partners, to help them avoid undesirable combinations and measure the risks in transactions they pursue.
But the real question lurking in the background is, are the black ops vendors cross-selling services? Do the corporate clients expect to reap the benefit of U.S. government intelligence to which the contractor has access? That possibility is another reason that policy-makers in Washington should be cautious about using private companies in sensitive matters. The fact that such services could be cross-sold points to an acute failure of government oversight.
Neither author mentions the most obvious and serious result of corporate use of mercs: they’ll be used against us. Dirty tricks against those opposing corporate power. Animal rights activists, feminists pursuing class action litigation, environmentalists, union organizers. In the beginning. Then things will get worse, unless we act soon to put the genie back in the bottle. Otherwise, this will become another step towards plutocracy — another pint of blood extracted from the Republic.
We’ll be shedding tears for our government’s creation of modern mercs
The ill effects of these modern mercenaries was discussed on the FM website in May 2008, excerpted below.
The historian Michael Roberts observed that military revolutions throughout history coincided with the rise and sometimes dominance of mercenaries. After 500 years of Great Nations efforts to control or eliminate mercenaries, the modern rise of mercs perhaps began with the creation of private firms, such as Executive Outcomes in 1989, from veterans of the South Africa Special Forces after the regime change there.
In the Iraq War, the US has greatly accelerated the formation and income of mercenaries – or, as many prefer to be called, Private Military Corporations. The dangers of this have already become apparent. Our finest troops now have an alternative market in which to sell their skills, one paying far more than America. It will likely move beyond our control, as markets usually do. We have created a conflict between our soldiers’ patriotism and their families’ needs, a challenge whose dimensions cannot yet be seen – only imagined. At the very least, we’re now bidding against ourselves in Iraq.
Worse, many years have passed since building patriotism was an important goal in most American schools, or a vital force in the overwhelming majority of American homes. Let’s not kid ourselves that patriotism arises autonomously, magically in every soldiers’ hearts. Once the Iraq War ends, what do they do? Re-enlist for a fraction of the current pay, or find another employer? Once a soldier kills for a dollar, unconnected to a national army, an invisible but real line has been crossed. Inevitably many of our finest will eventually be working outside of our control; some will work directly against us
Furthermore, knowledge moves with people. Hundreds of years of State-developed of tactics and training will become available to our 4GW enemies, those with the wit to take advantage of this opportunity. Only small numbers need “defect” for this to occur. Much of our most advanced military technology is also available to all. That is, everyone with the necessary money.
That some American mercs will serve our enemies is a near certainty. El Cid, hero of the Reconquista (d. 1099), worked as a mercenary for both Christian and Muslim rulers, although apparently never against Castilian interests. Mohammed II hired Christians, such as Urban of Hungary, to forge and operate the great cannon that broke the triple walls of Constantinople in 1453. Countless other examples can be cited throughout history. For more on this see “The new condottieri and US policy: The Privatization of Conflict and its implications“, Eugene B. Smith, Parameters, Winter 2002.
For more information
- Militia – the ultimate defense against 4GW, 31 May 2008 – See Chapter 12 about mercs
- Don’t read this about Blackwater! Why ruin your illusions, so carefully manufactured by our government’s info ops., 2 November 2009