Thursday, July 29, 2010
Mercenaries Are Losing Our Wars For Us
Washington's barefoot troops slept on the frozen ground of Valley Forge and lived on a diet of frostbite and desperation. They didn't stand a chance in a "fair" fight with a group as formidable as the German thugs quartered near Trenton, NJ.
So they did the reasonable thing. They attacked the sleeping Hessians in the wee hours of Christmas, 1776, catching the imported killers unawares as they groggily slept off the previous night's feast. The Hessians were all killed or captured and the Americans didn't lose a single life.
Imagine if a group of Iraqi or Afghan insurgents attacked sleeping American soldiers on the Christmas holiday. That wouldn't go over so well, would it?
But I digress.
Let's move ahead in history to World War One. American soldiers played a decisive role in winning that war- Government Issue soldiers, not mercenaries. Not so professional, but they got the job done.
Next we have WWII, which America won on two fronts- Europe and the Pacific. Government Issue soldiers fought that war. G.I.s cooked for other G.I.s. G.I.s drove convoys of G.I. supplies to other G.I.s. G.I.s built latrines for G.I.s and so on...and America won that war in less than four years. No "contractors" from Blackwater or Halliburton helped America win WWII.
The American soldiers who fought in the World Wars weren't getting rich. They had no incentive to stay overseas any longer than needed to finish the fight. Most wanted to return to their civilian jobs.
Today we have two wars that employ a vast number of private mercenaries (euphemistically called contractors) to do the work that American soldiers used to do for themselves, including cooking, transportation, construction - even combat roles. The contracted Blackwater mercenaries make tenfold what a typical American soldier earns and generally have better equipment and working conditions than our real soldiers enjoy. Or don't enjoy.
Nine years of contractor-enhanced fighting later, we still haven't managed to win two pissant useless little wars. Two bloody, lethal and hugely expensive wars; wars that use contractors that hire sub-contractors who hire sub-subs to carry out tasks such as building showers for Marines. Showers that electrocute our troops.
The corporations that supply these 'services' are getting rich from the current wars. Very very rich.
Consider this: The best-trained and equipped mercenary invader is no match for a barefoot rabble of sleep-deprived native farmers. Sure, in a head-to-head firefight, the farmers will be cut to ribbons- but the farmers won't take that option. They'll adopt George Washington's insurgent tactics and they will lose many battles in the doing, but they will win the war.
Because a farmer- or a shopkeeper or a barber- doesn't go to war unless he absolutely has to. His home, his family and his freedom are on the line and he will do whatever it takes to protect those things, including dying. A mercenary, on the other hand, has nothing to keep them in the battle except a paycheck. It's enough to make them want to kill, but not enough to make them willing to die.
If a G.I. wins a war, he gets to go home. That is his incentive for peace.
If a mercenary wins a war, he loses his job.What's his incentive for peace? More importantly, what incentive for peace do his corporate bosses have?
So much for the exit strategy.