Wednesday, August 04, 2004



By Jack Random

“This is our situation and who will may know it. By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils: a ravaged country, habitations without safety, slavery without hope, our homes turned into barracks and bawdy houses for Hessians, and a future race to provide for whose fathers we shall doubt of. Look on this picture and weep over it! and if there yet remains one thoughtless wretch who believes it not, let him suffer it unlamented.” Tom Paine – The American Crisis I.

A nation with a righteous cause and the support of its people would never resort to mercenary forces to supplant its legitimate military. The horrid events at Abu Ghraib pointed out the role of private contractors in critical positions of power and influence in the Iraq war. We learned than some 20,000 hired guns are in Iraq and their legal status is somewhere between limbo and blanket immunity. Among them are highly trained black operations specialists from Blackwater USA, former thugs from the terrorist units of former Chilean dictator Pinochet, former apartheid security forces from South Africa, and an assortment of special operations units from the United Kingdom. Some wear uniforms and others do not. Some operate under the banner of intelligence while others appear to operate independent of any chain of command.

It is clear that the use of mercenaries is in part designed to enable our military to avoid accountability. Like civilians and enemies, we do not count dead and wounded mercenaries. It has also been suggested that it is a cover for the obvious fact that we do not have sufficient forces. I would push the accusation a step further: It is a means of forestalling military conscription until after the presidential election. In the end, it does not matter. Both the draft and the use of mercenaries are crimes against humanity and give testament to an immoral cause.

It is the mark of a conquering army whose cause is so dubious it cannot raise an adequate army of volunteers and whose ambitions are so expansive that the need for soldiers is insatiable. The invading armies that rely on corporate warriors are universally resented and despised both for their brutality and for the hypocrisy of hiring others to carry out duties that traditional military personnel cannot or will not do. It carries a high price in both money and prestige. If the American people are committed to this war, why are there not enough volunteers to fight it? It is one thing to support our president; it is another to die for him.

It is an axiom of war that if there are not enough soldiers to fight, then that war should not be fought. It is as true now as it was in the days of the American Revolution, when Great Britain hired an army of indentured warriors from Germanic overlords to supplant British regulars. It was a measure of cowardice and a sign of weakness. The Hessians did not face the same problem as the British Redcoats: there was no reluctance to kill their brethren. They faced a different problem: they had no passion, no conviction, no commitment to the cause or loyalty to its leadership. They were unwilling to sacrifice life or limb for a monarch who thought no more of his hired subjects than of his cattle or sheep.

Recall Tom Paine’s American Crisis papers. His account of the Hessians paid by a corrupt King to kill British colonialists on American soil so roused the righteous indignation of Americans that it helped to raise a colonial army at a time when that army could hardly be fed, clothed and supplied with arms. There is something fundamentally offensive about hiring a third party to do your dirty work. There is something demonic about individuals and corporations that kill for money.

Is this the crusader’s gift to the world: killing machines to the highest bidder? Soldiers without cause or loyalty, who answer to no commander, who are accountable to no authority, are no better than mafia hit men.

Is this what America has become: the biggest thug on the block, putting out contracts on selected enemies, cornering markets for our corporate partners, defying the rule of law, handing out bribes and kickbacks, and letting the foot soldiers pay for the crimes of the overlords?

If the people do not awaken soon our beloved nation, birthplace of democracy, defender of liberty, refuge to the oppressed and weary, will have become the essence of what our ideals have always opposed. The Soviet beast – an authority of force alone, a ruthless oppressor, a power defiant of law and moral restraint, and the evil empire of Reagan’s nightmares – is dead. Shall we now replace that monster with its American equivalent?

We have so offended the nations and citizens of the world that they can no longer distinguish between our terrorists and theirs. This crusade of endless war must be brought to a close. These crimes against humanity must be brought to justice. This doctrine of war that gave them birth must be buried now and forever.


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