Democrats & Liberals Archives

Defund Iraq-War Mercenaries

Over 3/4 of Americans are against President Bush’s escalation of the Iraq War. Yet, Congressional Democrats, who came into power on a broad wave of hostility towards our troop involvement in Iraq, are being extremely cautious in exercising their mandate. They insist they do not want to hurt the troops by withholding troop funds. Why not withhold funds for Iraq-War mercenaries?

On the op-ed page of today's L.A. Times, Jeremy Scahill, in an article titled "Our Mercenaries in Iraq," tells us:

Already, private contractors constitute the second-largest "force" in Iraq. At last count, there were about 100,000 contractors in Iraq, of which 48,000 work as private soldiers, according to a Government Accountability Office report. These soldiers have operated with almost no oversight or effective legal constraints and are an undeclared expansion of the scope of the occupation. Many of these contractors make up to $1,000 a day, far more than active-duty soldiers. What's more, these forces are politically expedient, as contractor deaths go uncounted in the official toll.

It appears that there are more than twice as many "private soldiers" in Iraq - 48,000 - than the 21,500 troops in Bush's escalation plan. The fact that some "private soldiers" get $1000 a day hurts the morale of regular troops. In addition, these mercenaries are not accountable to anyone and allow the administration to fool the public about what the administration is doing.

Getting rid of mercenaries will not harm our troops. It will help them and will help our democracy. At the same time, it will start a reduction of forces we desire.

Scahill alerted me to the meaning of what Bush said during his State of the Union speech about a Civilian Reserve Corps. When I heard Bush speak about this Corps I thought he was referring to a group of Americans who would serve the country in non-military activities. But here is what Bush actually said:

Such a corps would function much like our military Reserve. It would ease the burden on the armed forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them.

More mercenaries. More unaccountability. More troops without bothering Congress. More powerful executive.

President Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex. It has become so bad that it has evolved into the military-industrial-mercenary complex. This complex is always pushing for more war. Escalation is their path to riches.

But it is the path to death for many of our troops.

We need a plan, similar to what the Iraq Study Group produced, so that we may reduce our troop strength and eventually leave Iraq. A non-binding resolution may be OK for a first step to let the president know Congress is serious. But Congress must do more.

The next step should be to defund, not our low-paid troops, but the excessively-paid mercenaries.

Posted by Paul Siegel at January 25, 2007 5:36 PM
Comments
Comment #205041

I’m not sure defunding the troops is the best approach if it endangers our troops (e.g. like when many troops went without body armor, adequate medical care and promised benefits) while irresponsible incumbent politicians in Congress gave themselves 8 raises between 1997 and 2006, and continue to do this sort of irresponsible stuff, and continue to ignore the nation’s important problems.

Our troops deserve much better.

How about an Article V Convention to change this glaring defect in the constitution, that allows a president (dictator?) to go against Congress and the majority of the voters of the nation?

Or, is Congress so disfunctional that even a majority can’t accomplish anything anymore?

If not, the only remaining course of action is to start voting all these bozos out of office. What good are any of them if they can’t accomplish anything.

The clock is ticking and the nation’s problems continue to go ignored; growing more dire by the day.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 25, 2007 6:13 PM
Comment #205044

After Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq, it’s time we make Congress responsible for these wars, rather than yielding to one person in the Executive Branch.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 25, 2007 6:26 PM
Comment #205049

Paul,

I share your concerns. Bush’s reference to a Civilian Reserve Corps certainly flew under my radar. I can’t altogether say this is a bad thing though. It’s really a tough call.

On one hand I have to wonder just what their “rules of engagement” are. I just have no idea exactly what “rules” apply to private mercs. I doubt they’d be subject to military law. There’s just a mountain of “unknowns” involved here.

OTOH anytime one or more of our troops is kept out of harm’s way I have to think it’s not such a bad deal. I very much doubt that these mercs are recruited right out of high school as many of our troops are.

I just can’t form a knowledgable opinion. I certainly respect these guys for taking on such a dangerous job. I wouldn’t be surprised if they hold some pretty good contracts with news organizations and almost undoubtedly oil companies.

I need to know much, much more before I condemn the practice.

Posted by: KansasDem at January 25, 2007 6:45 PM
Comment #205051

“After Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq, it’s time we make Congress responsible for these wars, rather than yielding to one person in the Executive Branch.”

d.a.n,

Agreed, but I would also add Bosnia/Kosovo to your list. It may have been less costly in American lives but there was still no reason to act without proper congressional oversight. The “end does not justify the means”.

Posted by: KansasDem at January 25, 2007 6:51 PM
Comment #205057

It’s sad when we are relying on mercanaries to bail us out of a quagmire, Congress can’t rein in a tyrant, and Congress is too busy gettin’ theirs that they continue to ignore the nation’s most pressing problems.
It won’t change until the consequences of so much fiscal irresponsibility finally comes to bear on those that keep rewarding them by repeatedly re-electing them.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 25, 2007 7:43 PM
Comment #205063

I don’t know if a Civilian Reserve Corps is a good idea or not—I think it’s a new one for most of us.

What I do know is that such an organization would in no way fall under the definition of “mercenaries” as Paul Siegel sets forth here.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at January 25, 2007 8:33 PM
Comment #205066

LO,

Check out Blackwaters own site:

http://209.183.221.44/about/

They don’t shy down from the name mercenary.

Posted by: KansasDem at January 25, 2007 8:57 PM
Comment #205068

KansasDem, obviously Blackwaters uses mercenaries—did I ever deny it?

I was simply disagreeing with Paul Siegel’s claim that a “Civilian Reserve Corps” would be the same thing as mercenaries.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at January 25, 2007 9:11 PM
Comment #205073

Get over it! Bush is doing every thing he can to win this war and he feels that his current plan is most fitting. If you dont like it you try being president for a day! I hope you are overwhelmed with the stress just like bush.

Posted by: jonh at January 25, 2007 9:18 PM
Comment #205076

Jonh,
Who cares about Bush’s stress.
How about the U.S. troops?

Posted by: d.a.n at January 25, 2007 9:30 PM
Comment #205079

Yes indeed—how about those US troops?

They’re fighting a war that not only the President but a large number of Democratic leaders voted for and vocally supported and now those same Democratic leaders are not only withdrawing support but refusing to offer alternatives or even discuss alternatives with the President.

Yes, how the troops? I don’t support the way Bush has gone about this in many, perhaps even most ways, but I’m disgusted at how the Democrats now just want to just hang them out to dry and pin it all on Bush for political gain.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at January 25, 2007 9:40 PM
Comment #205080

Mercs have been used throughout the U.S.’s history.

They were a common phenomenon of europe and of course, are well known as the French Foreign Legion.

They have their place in military conflict. What has concerned me, since 9/11 is the size of the reliance placed upon them, and the lobby it creates.

Posted by: gergle at January 25, 2007 9:42 PM
Comment #205086

Loyal Opposition,

As opposed to the way Bush ignores his generals, promotes those that swear fealty to him, and ignores every competent, including his father, piece of advice given.? I’m sure glad Americans aren’t dying for his political legacy. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Posted by: gergle at January 25, 2007 10:01 PM
Comment #205093

Gergle, am I defending George Bush here?

The world does not revolve around George Bush, and complaining about the behavior of Democrats is not the same thing at all as praising him. Why is it assumed that if you’re digusted by the Democrats, it automatically means you think George Bush is the greatest thing since sliced bread? This is a very simplistic assumption.

The sooner we all get over such ideas and start trying to solve problems together, the better.

Bush has made errors, but quite frankly, he was egged on by not only his own political cabal but signficant numbers of Democrats—and guess what? A majority, at one time, of the American public. Bush is not the sole cause of these problems, and frankly, shouldn’t be left alone in trying to come up with a solution.

Republicans, Democrats, and indeed the entire American public is in this together, even those who disagree, and have been since the beginning.

And when Bush is a private citizen again in the not too distant future, these challenges will remain. Bush at least, to his credit, seems to at least want to work on a solution. He’s willing to sit down with Democratic leaders, leaders who are supposed to represent the American people, and they are refusing. Refusing after promising to govern in a bipartisan fashion. How, for the love of god, can ANYBODY excuse a refusal by elected leaders of our country to even sit down and talk with our elected president?

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at January 25, 2007 10:32 PM
Comment #205105

Paul, When W mentioned the Civilian Reserve Corps in his speech the first thing that flashed through my mind was Schutzstuffel. Still does.

Posted by: j2t2 at January 25, 2007 11:00 PM
Comment #205112

J2t2? What is that then? A pastry? It sounds like a pastry to me. Or perhaps a sausage. Or a German beer. I agree though, even without Googling—which is obviously what you’re trying to make us do here. Listening to a political speeches often puts me in need of an alchoholic beverage, followed by a nice nap. I think I may have a Schutzstuffel or two left in my fridge right now.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at January 25, 2007 11:13 PM
Comment #205118

LO Its an old fraternal organization from which the neocons draw their inspiration.

Posted by: j2t2 at January 25, 2007 11:30 PM
Comment #205124

J2t2—I finally gave up and Googled. I get it now. Ha ha! How clever.

Not pastry, sausages or beer at all but NAZIS!!! Nazis!!!

George Bush is just like Hitler, and American civilians who’d take the trouble to sign on to defend our nation are just like Nazis!

What a delightful post from you. Congrats for both your orginality, your patriotism, and your heartfelt love for your neighbors.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at January 25, 2007 11:49 PM
Comment #205134

Let’s talk for a moment about “civilian contractors.” The first time a news agency used that term, I knew what they meant. Most of these contractors work for companies like Blackwater, DynCorp, or Secureforce International.

They are employed primarily for the security of dignitaries, including Karzai. Average pay is about $500.00 a day, but that can vary depending on specialty and assignment. The makeup of these groups is often heavily ex-military, special forces, etc.

Some of them were, and are, used by the CIA for intelligence gathering and assasination. Most famously, Billy Waugh and his group were contracted to go into Afghanistan and kill Osama bin Laden.

It has been common practice for many years to use civilian contractors to carry out some tasks - especially those where U.S. official involvement is not “acceptable”.

In my humble opinion, using specialized, highly trained, experienced contractors to carry out a job for which they are ideally qualified is a smart move. It saves time, money and lives.

It has nothing to do with who is President or who isn’t. This is commonplace, and budgeted for, and won’t change. At least it shouldn’t.

Posted by: Keith Burgin at January 26, 2007 1:23 AM
Comment #205135

LO If American civilians want to sign on to defend this Country they have multiple options in the armed services of this nation. To do it for dollars doesnt impress me at all. In fact becoming a mercenary in Iraq is not “defending this nation” IMO, rather it is adding to the problem. Further I think it is nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to circumvent the military code of ethics and its laws and rules.

Is your outrage due to the fact that a comment from Bush could ever be taken as something Hitler would do. Well so is mine. Only my opinion of Bush is much less positive than yours and a lot less trusting. Where you see it as inconceivable that Bush would steal a page from Hitlers playbook I dont. As CiC he has been IMHO more focused on turning Iraq into a neocon corporate state than on battling terrorism. His inability to lead this nation in a positive direction has caused me to lose all trust for the man. If I thought for one second that Bush meant the Civilian Reserve Corps to be a means of defending the nation from attack as opposed to a method of paying off his corporate base in a war of aggression then perhaps I would not have thought of the SS first. His track record however speaks for itself.
As far as your questioning my patriotism and my heartfelt love for my neighbors, well all I can say is I hope you feel better now.

Posted by: j2t2 at January 26, 2007 1:33 AM
Comment #205140

When a responsible nation hires Mercenaries to fight its wars in a world of international treaty and obligation to which the mercenaries are not obligated or bound, is a very, very dangerous proposition.

As Keith Burgin said: “It has been common practice for many years to use civilian contractors to carry out some tasks - especially those where U.S. official involvement is not ‘acceptable’.

Mercenaries acquire their rules of conduct from their corporate employers, not the government from whom they were hired, and that creates a conflict of interest when Mercs leave the reservation and commit war crimes. Our government does not advertise its hiring of mercenaries to fight in Iraq and for very good reason. The laws of agency dictate that our government is responsible for their actions, yet, our government would never be able to hire such services again if it prosecuted mercs who committed crimes.

Some of the Abu Ghraib tortures appear to have been committed by mercenary hires. If our country cannot muster enough of its own people to join its military and be bound by our military law, then our country has no business engaging in that war.

It is why the Constitution granted the power to declare war to the Congress, not the Executive, for it is the people who will suffer in war, and their desire to engage in it in sufficient numbers is a check and balance against the potential tyranny of the executive branch which otherwise would engage in war without the consent of the people.

Without this check and balance of both purse strings and declaration of war of the Congress, the executive would have the potential to hire outsiders to engage in conflicts for which retaliation would be suffered by the people without their consent or representation.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 26, 2007 4:35 AM
Comment #205144

David, it would seem to me, if a govt employs mercs to do it’s dirty work, from a moral, and probably from a legal perspective, that Govt is liable for their actions. I’m not sure that employing such people would give a govt an out from the constitutional restrains on declaring or waging war. I see no difference from a practical perspective in employing an official army or a mercenary army. Their objectives are set by their masters who must be held acountable for their actions. And if these people are not soldiers, then surely they are illegal combatants and subject to none of the protections for soldiers under the Geneva Conventions? But from the point of view of Constitutional authority, surely an Executive requires authority from Congress to declare war whether the personnel fighting it are soldiers or soldiers of fortune? Why should there be any difference?

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at January 26, 2007 7:50 AM
Comment #205145

gergle,

Mercs have been used throughout the U.S.’s history.

They were a common phenomenon of europe and of course, are well known as the French Foreign Legion.

But today French Foreign Legion is a military elite unit. It’s no more no less a mercenary unit than a GI or a large SEAL unit.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at January 26, 2007 7:55 AM
Comment #205146
becoming a mercenary in Iraq is not “defending this nation”

Doesn’t the definition of a mercenary is a soldier who fights or engages in warfare primarily for private gain, usually with little regard for ideological, national, or political considerations.

Patriotism is NOT what push mercs in Iraq.

BTW, under Geneva Convention, mercs are unlawfull combattants. Yeah, just like the little guys in Gitmo or in Iraq.
Talk about fighting devil with devil…

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at January 26, 2007 8:10 AM
Comment #205147

The only reason I defend Bush (who I don’t even care for) is that some say things as absurd as comparing him to Hitler.

If Bush proposes something that Hitler did too—such as a civilian defense force—then why stop there with the comparisons? Bush also commanded an air force. Just like Hitler! He commanded a Navy! Oh my. And the comparisons don’t stop there! He commanded an army too! And now a civilian defense force? Shocking. Clearly, Bush is just like Hitler.

In fact, Hitler was also a vegetarian. So, obviously, vegetarians are Nazis too. Along with anybody who likes puppies. Word is that Hitler liked them. I guess we’re all just like Hitler—each in our own little way.

What really irks me about this thinking is that the people who say it obviously don’t even believe it.

If Bush behaved like Hitler did, you’d think twice about saying anything nasty about him on a website. But obviously, he’s not like Hitler at all, so you can spout whatever you like without a care in the world.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at January 26, 2007 8:14 AM
Comment #205149

Paul—Interesting post! The use of government-contracted mercenaries by the Bush administration is hardly surprising, at least not to me. It is just more of the same from this new breed of facists calling themselves “Neo Cons.”

John—Boo hoo for “president” Bush! Colin Powel told an international reporter that Bush “sleeps like a baby” in the face of his own reckless use of the US Troops. I suppose you easily overlook the fact that Bush is responsible for the deaths of MORE Americans than the 9-11 plotters. GROW UP! Or better yet, why don’t you enlist in the army and go and support the Iraq mission of YOUR president, if you believe in his “good works.” I’m sure your life is no more of a consequence to him than the more than 3,000 already dead.

Loyal Opposition—Clearly it is hard for you to face tough critism, rhetoric or otherwise, regarding the actions of the “president.” Too bad for you, there is growing use of more “tough” rhetoric coming from all corners. The interesting thing is that I have been using this type of unequivocal language regarding the “president’s” entire term. Even so, “I told you so” in the wake of more than 3,000 dead American soldiers is hardly satisfying.

It would be so nice if individuals wouldn’t even attempt the use of semantics to prop up ill-conceived arguements and counter-points. Alas, the very mark of a GWB Devotee or Devotee want-to-be.

Posted by: Kim-Sue at January 26, 2007 8:21 AM
Comment #205151

LO Im sure there are thousands of similarities between Hilter and Bush, why we could even say they both wear clothes or walk, however none of those more ridiculous comparisons caused me to think of the Schutzstuffel when you mentioned them. However if you were to mention Homeland and I were to think of Fatherland then…

Posted by: j2t2 at January 26, 2007 8:55 AM
Comment #205154

Loyal Opposition,

While you are right that most Democrats authorized the use of force as a means of enforcing the U.N. security sanctions, I’m not quite sure where you are coming from saying that Bush is not the single, solitary proponent of this action.

While congress did not micro-manage, and Bush did have authority as commander-in-chief to take action, that does not absolve his obstinate refusal to take outside and internal advice. It does not absolve him from his current go it alone strategy either.

“We” are not in this together. I and others accepted that Bush had the intelligence to act as he did. He clearly did not, as we now know. We assumed he would competently persue this action, he has not. The only ones paying the price, other than taxpayers are the Iraqi’s and our soldiers. Perhaps if Jenna and Barbara Bush enlisted and served in Iraq, Bush could make that claim.

Bush is not trying to do something other than save his political ass. If he were, we’d have redeployed as John Murtha suggested over a year ago. Stupidity and political sacrifice of our soldiers is not something to which I think anyone should strive. Doing the completely wrong thing may be doing something, but I wouldn’t crow about it.

Posted by: gergle at January 26, 2007 9:31 AM
Comment #205155

Come on Dems…

Vote to defund the war…
That will force the soldiers home…

If you do not believe in or support what is happening, VOTE and ACT on it. This stupid non-binding resolution is a joke and does nothing but waste time.

You cannot have it both ways…

Posted by: cliff at January 26, 2007 9:38 AM
Comment #205158

gergle,

Perhaps if Jenna and Barbara Bush enlisted and served in Iraq, Bush could make that claim.

This has to be one of the most shallow and myopic arguments foisted on the american public.

BTW - If you were a conservative republican you could post a critisism of the President. But because you are not, you are not allowed your opinions. (lol)

Posted by: cliff at January 26, 2007 9:45 AM
Comment #205161

Cliff, you are wrong about the resolution. It establishes a step in a direction which the American people wish to go, without stepping out ahead of them into territory they are not yet willing to go.

Politics in a democratic republic is the art of both leading and following the people, and knowing when to for each. Cutting funding would not halt the surge.

If the surge fails, the people will back cutting the funding and so will a bi-partisan Congress.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 26, 2007 9:57 AM
Comment #205162

Leaders don’t lick there index finger and stick it in the wind.

Posted by: cliff at January 26, 2007 10:06 AM
Comment #205166
Leaders don’t lick there index finger and stick it in the wind.

Too bad this leader pee in the wind, then.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at January 26, 2007 10:51 AM
Comment #205170

Paul Siegel:

I agree the mercs should go. I do not believe the US should be in the business of employing hired killers/protectors in the course of normal business. I have a former friend who is employed overseas by such a company. He is a former friend because what he does is despicable and flies in the face of what I believe this country is all about.

Having said that, the monetary arguement really does not hold water. For the sake of arguement, let’s concede that, on average, the mercs are being paid approx $1000/day. If you figure in all the costs and benefits associated with the average rank of our personel (E-3 enlisted and O-3 officer corp), the cost is very similar. Remember, out of the $1000/day paid to mercs, they pay their own insurance, transportation, ammunition, weaponry, clothing, etc. I understand that the goverment does supply them with food (courtesy of one of those ridiculous no-bid contracts).

I agree with your premise, just not all of your supporting arguments.

Posted by: Chi Chi at January 26, 2007 11:09 AM
Comment #205171

I’m with you on this one Cliff. I believe it’s time for the Dems to show a little conviction and political courage. Many of the problems we have in politics today I believe spring from the failure of politicians to make clear what it is they believe in and to take stands on these things. Let’s see what our politicians stand for and are prepared to take risks for.

I believe David, whatever about this surge going ahead anyway if the Congress cut off funding, the Congress would be making a statement to the American people, and indeed to the world. They would be saying that this war is doing more damage than good, that the interests of the American people are being hurt, alongside those of the Iraqis and indeed the rest of the world. They would be showing that they have some moral convictions which they are prepared to act on. They would also be telling the Neo Cons that the game is up. Congress has only to act in the interests of their citizens, and not those of AIPAC and Jerusalem, and the coarse would be clear. The question is, have they the courage to speak for their people?

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at January 26, 2007 11:09 AM
Comment #205173

Philippe Houdoin,

Don’t get your feet wet my friend…

Posted by: cliff at January 26, 2007 11:24 AM
Comment #205174

Paul in Euroland,

You and I do not agree as a general rule…
BUT, I appreciate your comments on this one…

I will respect anyone who stands and takes action on what he/she believes even if I radically disagree with them. The converse on this is true as well.

Posted by: cliff at January 26, 2007 11:30 AM
Comment #205175

“Vote to defund the war…
That will force the soldiers home”

Cliff,

So, it’s the “all or none” approach? You’re either 100% behind Bush or you must pull the rug out from under the military? Can you imagine the chaos?

I believe that these non-binding resolutions just might give Bush the message if they have enough bi-partisan support. I prefer the specificity of Warner’s proposal and that should be hashed out in the Senate very soon. If nothing else it will further exemplify just how unwilling Bush is to consider alternatives.

Bush’s whiiiiiiiiine about no one presenting alternative plans has been BS for a long time, certainly since the release of the ISG report, but he’s still trying to lay that tired old rhetoric at our doorstep. Well, we’re not buying it anymore.

Posted by: KansasDem at January 26, 2007 11:39 AM
Comment #205178

Chi Chi:

So, if the cost is very similar, wouldn’t it be better to increase the military rather than use mercenaries? In so many ways and for so many reasons.

Posted by: womanmarine at January 26, 2007 12:16 PM
Comment #205180

KD,

You missed the point…

We need statesmen not a group of meandering “what do you think?” idiots. If you believe in something, don’t work at trying to position yourself so everyone “likes” you. Take action…
be a leader…

Case in Point:
I DO NOT agree with Murtha one little bit. However, I do respect him, because I know where he stands and I know how he’ll vote. He has the guts to say what he means and mean what he says.

Dems: This is a Nike moment…Just do it…

Posted by: cliff at January 26, 2007 12:24 PM
Comment #205184

Paul, the difference is: there is no conflict of interest when a nation recruits a military from its citizens on a non-for-profit basis to defend the nation and its interests.

Whereas, hiring mercs creates a couple huge conflicts of interest. Who is going to hold the Merc’s accountable to international law, if they are U.S. hired Merc’s? What is the difference between a merc and a suicide bomber offered $25,000 by Saddam Hussein to blow up some Israelis?

Next, how can our own government expect to hold the Merc’s accountable when we depend on their employer’s services? If we prosecute wayward merc’s the employer may seek other clientele. Which in and of itself, can become a national security problem for America.

None of these problems arise with a standing army of citizens defending their nation for little more than training, room and board.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 26, 2007 12:33 PM
Comment #205188

gw, they will. And our casualty numbers will increase, and for what. Even if the violence in Baghdad stops, it will not be the end of the sectarian hostilities. They will come back to the fore after we are gone, today, tomorrow, 10 years from now. These hostilities have been in play for centuries. You think they will go away as a result of a little ass kicking by American troops?

This is precisely why it won’t succeed strategically. Tactically, yes, it may halt the violence for the most part. But, it won’t change situation, the minute we leave, even if that is 20 years from now, the conflicts will reappear and the fate of Iraq will again hang in the balance.

The White House knows this. Their game plan is to keep this going in Iraq spending our troops lives until another president comes into office. Then Bush and Cheney can say the consequences are the new president’s, not theirs. In other words, they are killing our troops to save their ego invested legacies and to avoid owning the responsibility for the consequences of leaving Iraq, which we will have to at some point with 27,000 U.S. casualties or 500,000.

Me? I respect our troops, let’s not spend their lives and limbs for Bush’s and Cheney’s egos. Really, they are not worth one limb of one GI, let alone 10’s of thousands.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 26, 2007 12:43 PM
Comment #205203

gw, it is not possible for colonies of humans to live on Mars at this time. That is a fact. Just as it is a fact that there is no military solution to Iraq’s civil war at this time.

Sure, anything is possible over eons of time. But, let’s try to confine ourselves to the plane of reality bounded by the resources and options available in our troops lifetimes, which are becoming damn short of late.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 26, 2007 1:08 PM
Comment #205205

Philippe,

Thanks for the info and correction. I learned something today. Viva la France!

I’d try out my old high school french, but I’d probably end up insulting you.

Posted by: gergle at January 26, 2007 1:09 PM
Comment #205209

“Too bad this leader pee in the wind, then.”

Sadly, I think he’s peeing on us. Some of us know when to open the umbrella.

Posted by: gergle at January 26, 2007 1:13 PM
Comment #205225

Cliff:

They do if they need the wind behind them to get this ship of state where it needs to be going. Until it is, they’re tacking.

Posted by: Jarandhel at January 26, 2007 1:38 PM
Comment #205227

They’re fighting a pointless war that not only the President but a large number of Democratic leaders voted for. They supported the whole movement….Now they’re withdrawing their support!?!?!?

And the troops, we’re losing more and more everyday! Last weekend was the worst life loss ever so far! THEY NEED TO WITHDRAW!

Posted by: sehar and flor at January 26, 2007 1:39 PM
Comment #205252

womanmarine:

“So, if the cost is very similar, wouldn’t it be better to increase the military rather than use mercenaries? In so many ways and for so many reasons.”

Absolutely. Again, I am not arguing the premise. But I am a seeker of truth. And the truth is the overall costs are close. If that is the case, yes, we should have our own people who are bound by our laws and military regulations doing the work.

Posted by: Chi Chi at January 26, 2007 4:38 PM
Comment #205263

Paul, the difference is: there is no conflict of interest when a nation recruits a military from its citizens on a non-for-profit basis to defend the nation and its interests.
Posted by: David R. Remer at January 26, 2007 12:33 PM

David, I have to apologise for not expressing myself clearly. When I said I see no difference from a practical perspective in employing an official army or mercs, I was referring to a Governments responsibilities, and more particularly in terms of requiring the support of Congress to wage war. If a Government employs mercs to conduct war like operations abroad, then does it really matter whether they are mercs or soldiers? Surely the executive will still require the the support of Congress to declare war? And if it wages war without such a declaration from Congress, then that war would be illegal?

What we say of mercenaries in the last century does neither them, nor their sponsors any credit. I believe that any Government which employs them, has lost any sense of what a democracy is supposed to be about.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at January 26, 2007 6:43 PM
Comment #206001

gw said: “Without America Who would the downtrodden have to come to their aid France,Germany,Russia I doubt It.”

More and more, they are turning to China. Africa is leading the way in a very big way. And if anybody has downtrodden, it is African states, especially sub-Saharan.

None of the things you mentioned were impossible. The challenge was only one of will. Winning the civil war FOR Iraqis by U.S. escalation is logistically impossible. We don’t have sufficient manpower, and the Iraqi Army is inevitably going to become sectarian within their own ranks. The generals on the ground have already cited this fact many times over the last 36 months.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 31, 2007 3:43 PM
Comment #206002

Paul, does international law have sufficient jurisdiction to hold nations responsible for the actions of private corporate merc’s operating as their agents?

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 31, 2007 3:44 PM
Comment #275124

The congress has long been reluctant to ” declare war” but eager to send troops in harms way of war.

The reason is political.If the congress declares war this automatically grants the president sweeping constituional war time powers.

The congress in their meddlsome small minded tradition abhor any exapansion of presidential power.

By Not declaring war it also affords congress the opportunity to politicize and micro manage war and respond to domestic political pressures and considerations.

This is how the congress botched vietnan and darn near lost iraq for us..

Presidents should refuse to use presidential authority to command troops into battle without congressional acts of war.

this will ultimately protect troops from conflict in wich congress dosnt have the balls to put their name on the dotted line. It will also protect troops if congress does declare war as the war will be conducted solely by a unified command by its rigtfull commander in chief and insulated from the congressional political jitters de jour in regards to wich way the wind blows about the war.

In any event, the constitution is there for a reason. its wisdom should be followed when committing troops to war. matters of this seriousness are too important to have politicized by a congress more worried about the next election than the war they authorized by circuitous manner.

Finally,A declaration of war gives the commander in chief the ultimate authority to conduct war and that document also gives the commander in chief a method to castrate any member of congress who signs it and then subsequently turns anti-war yellow in the course of the war for political electoral benifit.

Posted by: bert hoffman at February 6, 2009 2:06 PM
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