Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

I disagree with the author's attitude towards mercenaries operating in foreign countries. Having read "The Modern Mercenary", by former Blackwater merc, Sean McFate, I am fully convinced that mercenaries have a desirable and necessary place in future conflicts.

Take Afghanistan for example. It is a nation at a major geographic crossroads that truly acts as a set of tribes and alliances, not a Westphalian-style state that is Westerners think ought to be the standard. That's why no matter how much "nation building" we do, nothing succeeds.

Instead, as McFate argues, we should have mercenaries prevent groups like al Qaeda from using that space to plan attacks on American soil, instead of spending political capital on forever wars. Mercenaries will be seen as a foreign defense mechanism against terrorism, like what we see the TSA doing at home. (Disagree with their tactics all you want, but they have stopped some bombings).

Anyone can plan an attack on America in their kitchen. It sounds like you're describing a paramilitary group that can fly anywhere in the world, violate whatever sovereignty they please, bust in through the window, and what, just shoot people that they're pretty sure are up to no good?

The principle of sovereignty is more important than placating America's paranoia, regardless of whether people think that a country is too disorganized to deserve the right to not have other countries airdropping their soldiers into it.

Some of the places that host terrorists arent countries, they're messes. They do not have anything close to a Westphalian state, they are a regional coalition of tribes and alliances that call themselves a country for a UN vote and IMF funding. Libya, Iraq, Afganistan, the list goes on.

National militaries are there to solve problems, but in the long run, only mercenaries can contain them.

It's not just America either. Ethiopia and Kenya would be much better off paying mercenaries that keep somalia's disfunction and terrorism at bay. You can fly in, bomb, invade, whatever, but eventually it becomes a politically unsustainable war.

Mercenaries are just an expense, and they know it.

Libya, Iraq, Afganistan, the list goes on.

Afghanistan has had problems for some time, but Libya and Iraq both functioned as nations before ill-advised adventurism on the part of Western powers. This "list goes on" shit is particularly chilling to those who value peace, life, and national solvency. What other functioning nations must be broken to feed the military-industrial complex?

> ill-advised adventurism on the part of Western powers

Let keep the picture clear: ill-advised by the USA. It was the USA who wanted the conflicts and did everything in their power to 'persuade' their allies to bomb along.

It was all lies and just see what we got in return.

You are correct about Iraq.

With respect to Libya, memories seem suspiciously short. For a long time Obama was uninterested in Libyan regime change. (I suspect because the generals were so sure it would be easy, which set off alarm bells, but none of that was ever made public.) For personal reasons that no one could discern, "French celebrity philosopher" Bernard-Henri Lévy was rabidly pro-war, and lobbied constantly for it. For reasons that probably make sense if one is French, both the French public and Nicolas Sarkozy found his case convincing enough to take the lead and let the USA "follow". (That lasted about a week, because France, but whatever.)

I stand corrected, my memory about Libya was hazy.

Not only the US, I'm afraid. The German government wants to wage more wars, too. For "humanitarian reasons" and also bananas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86ELBWLNdmg (this is an official propaganda video of the German military, not satire)

I understand that you don't consider them countries. What I'm saying is "they're a mess" is not a bright line over which you can revoke the people living there's rights of sovereignty.

> Some of the places that host terrorists arent countries, they're messes.

Even if that might be seen by some as a valid argument for violating the sovereignty of those (non-)states, it remains entirely orthogonal to the question of wether the intervening forces should be private sector or public. The only connection is that an (alleged) anarchy zone is the only place where the extralegal nature of private sector violence can be glossed over.

The author is literally a solution looking for a problem and abusing the most troubled places on earth as an excuse to turn military grade violence into a business.

Bullshit. I am sure the ~100k mercenaries in Iraq did a great job of stopping al Queada.

In fact mercenaries seem to encourage terrorism because they tend to be responsible for abuses and unlawful killings on foreign soil. Mercenaries were responsible for a lot of the abuses that happened in Iraq.

And I how you get to the parallel between the TSA and merceneries is beyond me. The TSA are government employees strictly subject to the law and with very limited powers. What in the world do they have to do with mercenaries?

> Disagree with their tactics all you want, but they have stopped some bombings

Genuine question, because I have a casual interest here, but don't claim exhaustive knowledge - can you cite examples?

Kevin Brown in 2008 was arrested for carrying bomb-making components, but a later FBI report found that he was carrying no initiators, explosives, or explosive devices.

Am I missing any other cases?

>Mercenaries will be seen as a foreign defense mechanism against terrorism, like what we see the TSA doing at home.

The TSA is killing people and without trial at that?

You think Mercenaries are good based on a book written by a mercenary?

Thats like believing GMO corn is good based on a book by Monsato. Or that fracking is good based on a book by some company that builds fracking equipment

The self-interest involved inherently says absolutely nothing about the argument being made. The only thing that does that, is the argument in question, it stands alone.

Anything else is bias no different than the kind you're trying to point at Monsanto or XYZ fracking company.

The argument can't be evaluated without context, and a biased source will not provide context that aids an unbiased evaluation.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact