I have been very verbal on what I think of private “security contractors” or what they really are…mercenaries……
But first….a mercenary?
The word “mercenary” comes from the Latin “merces,” which means “wages” or “fee.” Thus, taken literally, a mercenary is any person who serves merely for wages. Although this definition could apply to many of us in the working world, it’s most closely associated with the professional soldier, or someone who is hired by a political entity to fight in a conflict. That conflict could be a war, a coup attempt or a prohibition campaign designed to reduce illegal drug trade.
Back in the 1930’s Americans that went to fight in the Spanish Civil War were labeled as treasonous because they were fighting for another country. In thew 1960’s Americans signed on to fight for numerous African civil wars and were threatened with loss of citizenship……let’s not forget those Americans that freely go and fight in the ranks of the IDF….these were all mercenaries.
Today we have thousands of armed mercenaries fighting across the globe but they are safe under the crappy deal of a defense contractor……
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has asserted several times, and quite vociferously, that there will be “no American ground troops in Syria” if she is elected president in November.
While the definition of “ground troops” is flexible, there is a second reality that very few people are talking about in Washington today.
Not unlike the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq—where private military contractors fed, trained, equipped, and protected U.S. military forces “on the ground” in unprecedented numbers—an escalation of hired security forces in a hot spot like Syria would likely boost the presence of U.S. “boots” without causing the political heartburn of putting more actual soldiers and Marines in harm’s way.
A retort is that it is a free market….and yada yada yada…..
Clearly, the division between mercenary and non-mercenary soldiers was getting fuzzy. The four Geneva Conventions had to account for these nuances as they tried to formalize rules regarding how combatants and noncombatants would be treated during wartime. According to the Geneva Conventions, a lawful combatant is a soldier who belongs to the armed forces of a state. Lawful combatants can legally participate in hostilities with an enemy of the state and must be granted prisoner-of-war status if captured. Notice that members of the French Foreign Legion are lawful combatants by this interpretation.
One of three amendments of the Geneva Conventions, the first Protocol of 1977 clearly defines all of the criteria that a soldier must meet to be considered a mercenary. A mercenary is a person who:
- Is specially recruited to take part in a conflict, but isn’t a member of the armed forces of the state that recruited him
- Actively engages in hostilities
- Is motivated by private gain and is paid substantially more than the ordinary armed forces of the state
- Isn’t a national of the states involved in the conflict
- Doesn’t reside in a territory controlled by the states involved in the conflict
As such, a mercenary isn’t a lawful combatant and enjoys no protection under the Geneva Conventions. He can be executed or charged with murder if he kills either a combatant or a noncombatant.
In 1989, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution that outlawed the use of mercenaries. However, only 30 countries have ratified the resolution to date. Many countries, including the United States and Iraq, have not signed the accord, mainly because mercenaries, while discouraged by international law, offer several advantages that make them attractive to countries at war. (as usual the US only recognizes laws that benefit them not to make the world a better place)
To be labeled a mercenary hurts their feelings…..but by any definition they are mercenaries. So do not get all butt hurt by the truth.
We have a military….and if it is not capable then may I suggest that we reinstate the draft and make room for more troops.
If Johnny wants to go to war then do the honorable thing and go as a soldier defending your country not some greedy toad looking for a big payday.
The Middle East is awash in mercenaries…..fighting from all sides not just Americans……
Despite their differences, both the Spanish and Syrian civil wars witnessed the intervention of foreign legions, entire units of regular armies, militias, and air forces from other states, opposed to foreign fighters, independent individuals who chose to fight for an ideological cause.
A mercenary by any other name is still a mercenary……if you live for war then do not get butt hurt by the term.
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