Mercenary values 1

The profession of warrior is as respectable as any other, unless the warrior sells his skill to serve an evil cause.

The government of Somalia considered hiring Saracen International, a South African mercenary firm, to fight pirates and Islamic militants. A disapproving report in the New York Times may have squashed the idea.

Jeff Jacoby writes at Townhall:

That negative publicity may have undone the deal. The Times subsequently reported that Somali authorities “have cooled to the idea” of hiring private militiamen. “We need help,” a government official was quoted as saying, “but we don’t want mercenaries.”

Somalia certainly does need help. It is one of the world’s most unstable and violent countries. … It has been wracked for years by bloody insurgencies, and the central government, what there is of it, is under constant assault by al-Shabab, a lethal jihadist movement closely tied to al-Qaeda. Pirates plying the waters off Somalia’s shores menace international shipping.

The place is a hellhole, and each day that it remains one is another day of death and devastation for more innocent victims. Who is going to help them? The 8,000 peacekeeping troops sent in by the UN are inadequate to the job. “Western militaries have long feared to tread” there, as even the Times acknowledges. So why shouldn’t the Somali government turn to private militias for the help it so desperately needs?

It is fashionable to disparage mercenaries as thugs for hire, but private-sector warriors are as old as combat itself. Americans may dimly remember learning in grade school about the Hessian mercenaries who fought for the British during the American Revolution, but other mercenaries fought for American independence. … Many mercenaries have been heroes of American history. Among them are John Paul Jones, who became an admiral in the Russian Navy; the Pinkerton security firm, which supplied intelligence to the Union and personal protection for Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War; the Lafayette Escadrille, a squadron of American airmen who fought for France in World War I; and the Montagnards, the indigenous tribesmen who fought alongside American soldiers during the war in Vietnam. …

This is not an abstract argument. When Rwanda erupted in mass-murder in 1994, the private military firm Executive Outcomes offered to stop the slaughter for $150 million The Clinton administration turned down the offer. In the ensuing carnage, some 800,000 Rwandans were killed.

In 1995, by contrast, the government of Sierra Leone hired Executive Outcomes to put down a savage rebellion by the brutal Revolutionary United Front. Within a year, the company had quelled the uprising and driven the rebels out.

It may not be politically correct to suggest letting mercenaries deal with nightmares like Somalia and Darfur. But political correctness doesn’t save lives. Sending in mercenaries would.

For a state or nation to hire the expertise it lacks is eminently sensible. Somalia should hire mercenary soldiers; Zimbabwe and California should hire mercenary free-market economists; the Palestinians and Pakistanis should hire mercenary brains; the Germans should hire mercenary humorists.

But why stop there?

Many a failed state could turn into a law-and-order polity with a thriving economy if it would hire an administration.

It need not pick the personnel from one country only. It should make up a team consisting of the most competent administrators from a number of countries, most obviously the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Switzerland.

And why not hire a judiciary as well – from the same pool of mostly Anglophone lands where commonsense, rationality, learning, fair-mindedness, humane restraint, probity, and the capacity to adjudicate objectively may still be found?

The hiring state would continue to make its own laws, but would have to be open to the advice of the imported administration and judges as to what laws could and should be enacted if it wasn’t to waste its money.

We float this idea on the ether because it is a good one. We mean it seriously, but would be astonished if it were taken seriously by any failing state. We know that we don’t yet have the clout even of the failing New York Times.

  • Wimplow

    lol nice “…the Germans should hire mercenary humorists.”