Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Support Our Mercenaries


Canadian Dimension has the numbers :
The words “Support Our Troops” stain the rear bumpers of thousands of cars. The slogan, however, conceals a more pernicious demand: “Support Our Mercenaries.”

Yes, in Iraq, the mercenaries – euphemistically called “paid contractors” – outnumber US troops, 180,000 to 160,000. These contractors do more than provide armed security for US personnel. They do chores that previously belonged to regular army staff.Private security companies employ for high pay former US soldiers, ex-kidnappers and torturers from Pinochet’s secret police, death squad heavies from a variety of Central and South American countries and a few leftover South African apartheid thugs as well. The companies collect billions from US taxpayers.
The un-serious Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who was among the foremost favorites of our un-serious Founding Fathers, had the explanation for how this comes to pass and what it means:
A desire for conquest... is not always what it appears to be, and has not so much, for its real motive, the apparent desire to aggrandize the Nation as a secret desire to increase the authority of the rulers at home by increasing the number of troops, and by the diversion which the objects of war occasion in the minds of the citizens.
* * *
There may come a time when the citizens, no longer looking upon themselves as interested in the common cause, will cease to be the defenders of their country, and the Magistrates will prefer the command of mercenaries to that of freemen; if for no other reason than that, when the time comes, they may use them to reduce freemen to submission. Such was the state of Rome towards the end of the Republic and under the Emperors: for all the victories of the early Romans, like those of Alexander, had been won by brave citizens, who were ready, at need, to give their blood in the service of their country, but would never sell it. Only at the siege of Veii did the practice of paying the Roman infantry begin. Marius, in the Jugurthine war, dishonoured the legions by introducing freemen, vagabonds, and other mercenaries.

Tyrants, the enemies of the very people it was their duty to make happy, maintained regular troops, apparently to withstand the foreigner, but really to enslave their countrymen. To form such troops, it was necessary to take men from the land; the lack of their labour then diminished the amount of provisions, and their maintenance introduced those taxes which increased prices. This first disorder gave rise to murmurs among the people; in order to suppress them, the number of troops had to be increased, and consequently the misery of the people also got worse; and the growing despair led to still further increases in the cause in order to guard against its effects.

On the other hand, the mercenaries, whose merit we may judge of by the price at which they sold themselves, proud of their own meanness, and despising the laws that protected them, as well as their fellows whose bread they ate, imagined themselves more honoured in being Caesar's satellites than in being defenders of Rome. As they were given over to blind obedience, their swords were always at the throats of their fellow-citizens, and they were prepared for general butchery at the first sign. It would not be difficult to show that this was one of the principal causes of the ruin of the Roman Empire.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract and Discourses
trans. by G. D. H. Cole (E. P. Dutton, 1950) at pp 317-19)

It makes one wonder: What will happen to us when we bring our troops mercenaries home?

Oops! They're here already:
But, as one mercenary said, they've been told they could be in New Orleans for up to six months. "This is a trend," he told us. "You're going to see a lot more guys like us in these situations."

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