Social Question

YoKoolAid's avatar

How do you feel about private contractors/mercenaries operating in iraq/afghanistan?

Asked by YoKoolAid (2424points) March 31st, 2010

it’s a grey area

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

41 Answers

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I have no issues with a person trying to make an honest living anywhere in the world. What I do have issues with is some of the stories I’ve heard about BlackWater (think they changed their name).

As I understand it, many of their soldiers are paid upwards of $1,000.00 per day. How many of them are there… 100,000 maybe? The American tax payer gets the bill. And adding insult to injury, is that the BlackWater soldiers are hand selected from our own military, meaning that we also trained them. I guess that’s a pretty sweet gig for BlackWater executives. Minimal training and an endless revenue resource, at the expense of the American people.

I can only go by what I’ve heard in the news. I could be mistaken. I certainly hope so.

ragingloli's avatar

It is killing people for profit. No better than paid assassins and hitmen. At least Hitman has style.

The_Idler's avatar

It’s private profiteering crossed with imperialism, what else would anyone expect from the successors to the British Empire?

I can only hope that they continue along the lines of the British and grow themselves a conscience sometime soon.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Contracted fighters are part of the US military experience since the Hessians fought against the colonists in the Revolutionary War. During the Civil War, men conscripted into the Union Army could hire substitutes. Often these were new German or Irish immigrants.

The_Idler's avatar

mercs, the third oldest profession?

wonderingwhy's avatar

Last time I checked we had a military? While it’s frequently supplemented with contractors (particularly on the technical side where it’s often a requirement), dependence upon them in the field seems a dangerous reliance. Companies like blackwater don’t, in many cases, provide anything our own military couldn’t do for itself with proper training. Rather than waste money outsourcing, why not invest it in our troops?

Cruiser's avatar

The more the merrier! There is a very very difficult job to do over there and we need all the help we can get!

The_Idler's avatar

“Rather than waste money outsourcing, why not invest it in our troops?”

It’s how informal corporatism works, which is how America works.
Gov’t makes underhand deals with private interests; world keeps turnin’.

CaptainHarley's avatar


The Blackwater troops were among the best in the field.The problem is that, as a private contractor, the organization had too much freedom of action, especially when the rules of engagement changed.

Snarp's avatar

I think it’s a really bad idea. It removes them one step from real accountability, it authorizes a group of armed men in a very sensitive and volatile war who fall into a grey area outside of the military chain of command, it is bad for troop morale since they are fighting side by side with people who make far more money and don’t have to stay in country for nearly as long, it makes retention more difficult since soldiers see no reason to stay in the military when they can just join up with Blackwater, XE, or whoever and make more money, and it is a waste of money to pay a middleman who hires soldiers who are then paid substantially more than our soldiers to do the same job. Also, Eric Prince (the head of XE, nee Blackwater) believes that his mercenaries are part of a Christian crusade to kill Muslims.

stump's avatar

I don’t like the idea of my government paying mercenaries. The only reason I can see for it is the mercenaries are not bound by the millitary’s code of conduct, and therefore can do dirty work that the military wants to distance itself from. It is a way to circumvent the law, and it is wrong.

The_Idler's avatar

Yeah, it’s the American Way.

Trillian's avatar

“It is a way to circumvent the law” I suppose it is. I don’t know a lot about things like this so maybe my view is a bit simplistic. It just seems the same as here in the states. As long as the bad guys don’t have to abide by the rules and we do, they win.
Does no one remember what they did to out guys before we had all those detainees at Gitmo? Does no one remember what happened to our guys that they dragged from the helicopters? Does no one remember what happened to Daniel Pearl?
I don not defend mercenaries or our involvement with them but it just seems to me like they are leveling the playing field where the other side does not follow rules of engagement. Terrorists, extremists, whatever you want to call them. They want all of us dead. In the comfort of our homes, far away from where the people of this ideology hold life cheap and the slayings of any westerner is brutal and often horrific by our standards, it is easy to say; “Oh, those bad bad mercs. They don’t have to follow the rules.” And you’d be correct. But I submit that we are up against people who also see no need to follow any rules. They sacrifice people in suicide missions and count it a good thing. How can you counter that?
I prefer to see win/win solutions. I like to see everyone walk away from the table happy and satisfied. How can you satisfy a group of people who want to wipe all westerners off the face of the earth?
Is there any compromise possible at this point? Can there be peace between Israel and Islam? What will it take to allow all of us to peacefully co-exist? I’d love that to happen. I’d love to see scholars of all religions get together and endlessly debate the finer points of their religious differences while enjoying coffee and dinner, shake hands and go home at the end of the day blessing each other in their different benedictions. Maybe some day that can happen. How can we protect ourselves and our children until that time? How can we stop their attacks from happening here until then? What alternatives are left to us?

The_Idler's avatar

Yeah, it is war. Fight dirty, if that’s what it takes.

The morally reprehensible aspect of it, however, is the profiteering and Gov’t-private collaboration and unofficial dealings, but, like I said, that is just how America works.

Well, it’s how everywhere works, but in America they’re honest about it, so it means you can’t really complain.

Trillian's avatar

@The_Idler I was about to take umbrage until you admitted that it worked that way everywhere. I guess I can’t complain about the profiteering either. If I were a qualified badass who could go in and take out some cleric who was “masterminding” plots and sending out these poor deluded guys to kill themselves for Allah I guess I’d want something big to make it worth my while.

Snarp's avatar

@Trillian If we get to abandon all rules (or some arbitrary set of rules) of morality and decency because our enemy is willing to murder civilians, then why do we deserve to win?

Being good and just is meaningless when it is easy. We are not morally superior or more courageous until we are good and just when it is difficult.

The_Idler's avatar

Yeah, but the USA doesn’t go to war to be courageous, good and just.
Hence their use of mercs and hugely superior technology.

Trillian's avatar

Like I said, I don’t really know or claim to know. If we use mercs, then you could say that we lose all claim to morality. I’d still prefer that to seeing my daughter or someone else that I care about blown up in an explosion because a misguided fanatic decided that he wants to be with Allah.

Snarp's avatar

@Trillian You make the false assumption that anything we are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan (let alone torture and murder of civilians specifically) is reducing the likelihood of a terrorist attack. There’s absolutely no evidence of that.

The_Idler's avatar

The US isn’t really fighting in the Middle East to prevent that, though.
They are there simply to give payback to a general people/area/religion,
the general ‘enemies’ of the American public.

As well as the fact that the USA needs to be continuously at war, to continue existing in it’s present form.

Trillian's avatar

@Snarp ok. I can concede that point. But the truth is that I’m very afraid of this group of people. They want us all dead. They will scruple at nothing for that to happen. I understand that fear is a tool used by the government as well as the church to make people go in the direction they want, so maybe I’m being manipulated.
Is there another alternative?

The_Idler's avatar

“They want us all dead. They will scruple at nothing for that to happen.”

How many people and how much money do you think is behind this initiative?

Trillian's avatar

@The_Idler I don’t know. Is this a false statement? I keep saying that I don’t know about this, I can only give my impression. Have there not been suicide bombings in England? Didn’t the would be bomber that landed in Detroit board the plane in Europe or somewhere where the security is less stringent than in the states? What about the shoe bomber? What is the truth?

The_Idler's avatar

Yeah, there has been a lot more terrorism in the UK than in the USA.

Islamists are pretty rubbish terrorists. They don’t have particularly good resources or logistics. They ain’t nothin on the IRA.

The IRA fired a mortar at 10 Downing Street. They fired an RPG at the MI6 building. They caused £1,000,000,000 worth of damage to the City of London with a single bomb.
The other attacks are too numerous to list.

The Islamists? I could co-ordinate more effective bombings than them. Half the time their explosives are next to useless.

Sep 11th was a success for them. But it was a desperate long shot, made by a group of outcasts, who felt cheated by the US (who ‘used’ them against the Soviets).
This is a few people with little money. Hence the minuscule death toll from Islamic terrorism.

The US go on about it like they are as powerful as a enemy nation state, but that is the lie of the century.

Trillian's avatar

@The_Idler You see? I was under the impression that this Bin Laden guy was really well connected and financed. That he and many other “sympathizers” continued to fund this group and that they had training camps all over Afghanistan. I also understand that they recruit impoverished, under educated young males who have no hope of a better future and brainwash them into thinking that they will be rewarded an the afterlife if they kill themselves and as many of the “infidel” as possible.
Is none of this true?

The_Idler's avatar

To some degree.

but the main idea is not recruiting people directly, but agitating a worldwide islamist uprising.

bin Laden isn’t paying for bombs in the UK or in Moscow. Maybe he did pay for Sep 11, but that really is it.

He just eggs people on. The people that execute these attacks aren’t well supplied or funded! Just look at what they are. The attacks are so poorly done.

It looks worse to an American, because you haven’t really had terrorism before.

But look at this timeline of terrorist attacks in London:

Now you can see why I laugh at the Islamists’ pathetic and clumsy efforts?
As well as at the Americans’ absurd exaggerations of their abilities?
Here is a estimate of some decommissioned weapons of just ONE group of Irish rebels.

CMaz's avatar

Good way to make some serious cabbage. If you have the skills.

I have known people that worked for Black Water. They make BIG bucks.
And, get the best of everything they need.

Response moderated
TexasDude's avatar

There have been a lot of abuses within the PMC industry, but as a whole, I support their presence in Iraq and Afghanistan because of the invaluable support they offer US forces.

I do think that there should be a zero tolerance policy for any and all abuses, and they should be punished swiftly and thoroughly.

Response moderated
Response moderated
The_Idler's avatar

@ragingloli I know what he means, I want to know why he says this.

EmpressPixie's avatar

removed personal attacks and references to removed comments

The_Idler's avatar

I think using mercs is fine. It has been part of warfare for longer than we can know.

I also think they are useful in dealing with terrorist groups. There are laws and protocols protecting enemy combatants and supporters, which make the Americans look like the nice guys and are good at protecting innocents, but unfortunately hinder the annihilation of these terrorist groups.

Now, while I fully oppose the abuses and bad practice WRT taking prisoners and occupation, I do 100% support assassination of ANYONE found supporting terrorists in ANY way, no questions asked.

These are people who speak only the language of death and violence. How else can the message be communicated to them – that their behaviour will not be tolerated – but by wordlessly killing their leaders and supporters?

Now I’m not saying I support America in this particular situation, but I am saying that I want anyone who supports the murder of civilians dead, and I don’t care how it’s done, so long as it is quick.

stump's avatar

@The_Idler What if someone supports terrorists in the press? Not materially, not financially, but by speaking and/or writing in support of their cause. Do you advocate the assasination of people for speaking their minds or holding a belief?

The_Idler's avatar

Good question.

My ultimate point is that, if they are supporting the mass-murder of innocent civilians as a means, I don’t give a fuck what their ends are, I still think they deserve to die.

How can we, in our global society, tolerate the existence of those that regard the random mass-murder of innocent people as a reasonable and acceptable means to an end – any end? We simply cannot.

The_Idler's avatar

I sympathise with many peoples’ criticisms of US foreign policy and international corporate practices, including many of the Islamists’ more personal ‘issues’ with the States, but I am wholly opposed to the idea of killing innocent American citizens to just to publicise the ‘issue’!

Snarp's avatar

So by this logic Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al. deserve to die since they clearly regarded (and still do) the “mass-murder of innocent people as a reasonable and acceptable means to an end”?

The_Idler's avatar

Hell, yes.

mattbrowne's avatar

So very wrong.

Ron_C's avatar

Private Contractor is another name for mercenary. They are gun for hire and should be universally outlawed. I don’t care if they are U.S. citizens or not, they are outlaws and deserve no protection from the government.

If they do things that our army cannot, it is because they act outside of our and international law. I frankly don’t care if they are killed by Afghan citizens, in fact, I would encourage it.

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