Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

VIEWPOINT War in the 21st Century: mercenaries, private military companies, private armies
by Nick Patricca
2023-05-20

This article shared 4144 times since Sat May 20, 2023
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


In 2022, $407 billion of the Pentagon budget—representing half of that year's funding —were obligated to private contractors, of which a significant number were Private Military Companies (PMCs) involved in combat operations, that is, mercenaries.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the forever wars generated by 9/11 grew contracted private military force to 50% of our armed forces, with a ratio of contractor personnel to U.S. personnel in war zones increasing to 3 to 1. According to the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, between 2001 and 2021, the Pentagon spent $14.5 trillion, of which $8.025 trillion [55%] was for PMCs.

For accounting purposes, we can divide PMCs into three types: those primarily involved in consulting, training, supplies, logistics; those primarily involved in security for U.S. embassies, diplomats, aid programs and other U.S. interests; and those primarily involved in combat operations. Strictly speaking, only those involved in combat operations are considered mercenaries. In practice, however, there is a very hazy line between protecting logistical supply lines and active security deployments and combat operations.

In Mercenaries and War: Understanding Private Armies Today, Sean McFate—professor at National Defense University, former private military contractor—defines a mercenary as "an armed civilian paid to do military operations in a foreign conflict zone."

Whether we use a narrow or broad definition of mercenary, the U.S. has used and is using mercenaries in offensive combat operations in foreign conflict zones.

The use of mercenaries is banned by international law and U.S. domestic law. The United Nations ban has been ratified by 35 nation-states, but not the U.S. or Russia. In 1893, the U.S. Congress, in response to rogue actions by Pinkerton and other private police, passed the anti-Pinkerton Act which prohibits the U.S. from hiring private police or military. In 1977, Federal Courts applied this law to mercenaries. The U.S., however, maintains that government hired PMCs are not mercenaries.

Lacking jurisdiction, Congress exercises no legal oversight over U.S.-employed mercenaries. When Barack Obama was a U.S. senator, he introduced legislation to give Congress oversight on American sponsored mercenaries, specially to monitor human rights violations.

When Obama became president, he actually increased the use of mercenaries in Afghanistan—the senate bill was forgotten. Obama could not maintain his cap on the number of American troops in Afghanistan without increasing the number of mercenaries. whose presence and casualties are not counted in Pentagon statistics. He could not achieve American objectives in Afghanistan without employing mercenaries.

Thus: no body bags of U.S. combat fatalities in the headlines.

The majority of American mercenaries in combat zones are not citizens of the U.S. Many are elite ex-special forces from Colombia, Mexico, Philippines and South Africa who have extensive experience fighting narco-terrorism and insurrection. The first PMC in Iraq was the notorious Blackwater, now known as Academi, which was founded by former Navy SEAL officer Erik Prince.

McFate noted in a 2016 Atlantic article that "mercenaries now sustain more casualties than American military personnel in combat zones."

U.S.-sponsored mercenaries are currently active in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and several countries in Africa. The American mercenaries in Syria and Iraq are primarily involved in seeking out and destroying ISIS. They are also involved in protecting U.S. interests in this region against Russian mercenaries, principally the Wagner Group. A good example of the sophistication and power of private armies, the Wagner Group deploys elite battalions of well-trained, well- supplied, technologically adept soldiers to fight Russia's wars in Ukraine, Middle East, and other regions.

The use of mercenaries is as old as war itself. Some call it the world's second oldest profession. The use of mercenaries in contemporary warfare is a fact. It is time for the U.S. government to acknowledge the employment of mercenaries and set up mechanisms to monitor their behavior.

The principal reason the U.S. government does not acknowledge the use of mercenaries is to hide the true costs of war from the American public. It is less expensive to employ mercenaries than to pay the short-term and long-term costs for U.S. military casualties. It also hides the true number of casualties. The lack of public discussion of the true costs of war, moral as well as financial, keeps American citizens politically naÀ�ve, complicit and malleable.

When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubican, he was moving his elite private army into central Italy to enforce his will on Rome and the Roman Republic. The election of Trump as president demonstrated the fragility of our civil society. The rise of global private armies as well-trained and as well-equipped as our best troops poses an urgent security risk to our nation.

Machiavelli thought that the extensive reliance on mercenaries would eventually destroy the state and enfeeble its citizens.

The legal and moral issues involved in the use of mercenaries in contemporary warcraft must be publicly investigated and acknowledged, both for the well-being of our Republic and for our credibility among nations.

This Memorial Day, as we remember and honor those who gave their lives to protect our freedoms, we need to understand and take responsibility for the use and consequences of the lethal power the U.S. government employs in our name to protect our interests.

Memorial Day 2023 © nicholas.patricca@gmail.com

Nick Patricca is professor emeritus at Loyola University Chicago; president of Chicago Network JP; member, Writers in Prison, San Miguel PEN; member, TOSOS Theatre Ensemble, NYC.


This article shared 4144 times since Sat May 20, 2023
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

VIEWS Mike Johnson: The smiling face of Christian tyranny
2024-02-14
Mike Johnson wants to rewrite the constitution to make the United States a Christian nation. James Michael Johnson, Republican from Louisiana's Fourth District, is the 56th speaker of the United States House of Representatives. He was ...


Gay News

Col. Jennifer Pritzker comments on military museum move
2024-02-13
Local transgender philanthropist Col. Jennifer Pritzker commented to Windy City Times about the impending move of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library (PMML), which she founded in 2003, to Wisconsin. "At the end of the day, ...


Gay News

Pritzker Military Library to close in July, move to Wisconsin
2024-02-08
On Feb. 7, the Pritzker Military Museum & Library announced that it is closing its downtown Chicago location on July 27 and moving to an archives center in Wisconsin later this year, according to The Chicago ...


Gay News

VIEWS Parents, not legislators, should be making decisions about medical options for children
2024-02-06
By Jeffery M. Leving - No matter the medical issue, when it comes to kids, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said something last December that every lawmaker in the country should realize when it comes to medical decisions for children. "Were House ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Sundance items, Green Day, 'Wednesday,' Queerties, 'The Wiz'
2024-01-26
At the Sundance Film Festival, Jodie Foster told Variety that the $1.4-billion success of Barbie helps confirm that Hollywood no longer views women directors as too much of a risk. She said, "With a big success ...


Gay News

VIEWS Is the Pope Catholic? Francis faces opposition in steps toward LGBTQ+ inclusivity
2024-01-02
The recent change in Vatican policy allowing priests to bless same-gender couples has provoked an unprecedented backlash against Pope Francis and his openness to LGBTQ+ people—a backlash that some fear might devolve into a schism in ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Paris Johnson
2023-12-29
Paris Johnson, 29, of Chicago's West Loop neighborhood, passed away unexpectedly Nov. 28. He would have celebrated his 30th birthday Dec. 20. Born into a military family in Sacramento, California, Paris moved often in his youth, ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Women's college, banned books, military initiative, Oregon
2023-12-29
After backlash regarding a decision to update its anti-discrimination policy and open enrollment to some transgender applicants, a Catholic women's college in Indiana will return to its previous admission policy, per The National Catholic Reporter. In ...


Gay News

THEATER 'Dial M' director speaks about stage magic and perils of the closet
2023-12-15
A good thriller is always in style for the right audience—but it's paying dividends for Northlight Theatre, which recently opened Dial M for Murder, helmed by queer director Georgette Verdin, to great reviews. ...


Gay News

Bring Chicago Home: Guess who's saying no again
2023-12-04
Commentary by Bob Palmer and Mark Swartz - Chicago is ushering in an era of change with a new progressive mayor with a vision to invest in communities long ignored and a significant increase in like-minded city council members. We are excited to see ...


Gay News

Pope Francis's community of transwomen
2023-11-28
It's a rare opportunity to meet the pope. It's even rarer if you're a transgender Catholic. However, on Nov. 19, in Torvaianica, Italy, a community of transwomen, many of them sex workers, were welcomed and seated ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Music awards, military film, Tom of Finland, Yo-Yo Ma, 'Harley Quinn'
2023-11-17
Video below - Brothers Osborne—a duo that includes gay brother TJ Osborne—won Vocal Duo of the Year for the sixth time at the recent CMA Awards, per a media release. Backstage, TJ told reporters, "I did not expect us ...


Gay News

AVER celebrates LGBTQ+ veterans at annual Veterans Day dinner
2023-11-12
Writer and historian Owen Keehnen was keynote speaker at the the American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER) Chicago Chapter's 32nd annual LGBTQ Veterans Day Banquet held on Veterans Day at Ann Sather restaurant on Belmont. Keehnen ...


Gay News

South Korean court upholds military 'sodomy law'
2023-10-28
For the fourth time, South Korea's constitutional court has upheld two anti-LGBTQ+ laws—including the country's notorious military "sodomy law," The Guardian reported. By a vote of five to four, the court confirmed the constitutionality of ar ...


Gay News

Banning the Banning of Books: Illinois and California lead the way
2023-10-26
In June, at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago, Governor JB Pritzker signed legislation banning book bans in Illinois public libraries. This legislation, initiated by Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias, passed the Illinois House and ...


 


Copyright © 2024 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.