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Outsourcing War: The Rise of Private Military Contractors

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Outsourcing War: The Rise of Private Military Contractors (PMCs) - by Stephen Lendman

In The Prince, Machiavelli (May 1469 - June 1527) wrote:

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"The mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous, and if anyone supports his state by the arms of mercenaries, he will never stand firm or sure, as they are disunited, ambitious, without discipline, faithless, bold amongst friends, cowardly amongst enemies, they have no fear of God, and keep no faith with men."

In an August 11, 2009 Global Research article titled, "The Real Grand Chessboard and the Profiteers of War," Peter Dale Scott called Private Military Contractors (PMCs) businesses "authorized to commit violence in the name of their employers....predatory bandits (transformed into) uncontrollable subordinates....representing....public power in....remote places."

True enough. Those performing security functions are paramilitaries, hired guns, unprincipled, in it for the money, and might easily switch sides if offered more. Though technically accountable under international and domestic laws where they're assigned, they, in fact, are unregulated, unchecked, free from criminal or civil accountability, and are licensed to kill and get away with it. Political and institutional expediency affords them immunity and impunity to pretty much do as they please and be handsomely paid for it.

So wherever they're deployed, they're menacing and feared with good reason even though many of their member firms belong to associations like the International Peace Operations Association (IPOA) and the British Association of Private and Security Companies (BAPSC). Their conduct codes are mere voluntary guidelines that at worst subject violators to expulsion.

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When IPOA wanted Blackwater USA investigated (later Blackwater Worldwide, now Xe - pronounced Zee) for slaughtering 28 Iraqis in Al-Nisour Square in central Baghdad and wounding dozens more on September 16, 2007, the company left the association and set up its own, the Global Peace and Security Operations Institute (GPSOI), with no conduct code besides saying:

"Blackwater desires a safer world though practical application of ideas that create solution making a genuine difference to those in need (by) solving the seemingly impossible problems that threaten global peace and stability."

Blackwater, now Xe, makes them far worse as unchecked hired guns. Wherever deployed, they operate as they wish, take full advantage, and stay unaccountable for their worst crimes, the types that would subject ordinary people to the severest punishments.

In his book "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army," Jeremy Scahill described a:

"shadowy mercenary company (employing) some of the most feared professional killers in the world (accustomed) to operating without worry or legal consequences....largely off the congressional radar. (It has) remarkable power and protection within the US war apparatus" to practice violence with impunity, including cold-blooded murder of non-combatant civilians.

Employing Mercenaries - A Longstanding Practice

Called various names, including mercenaries, soldiers of fortune, dogs of war, and Condottieri for wealthy city states in Renaissance Italy, employing them goes back centuries. In 13th century BC Egypt, Rameses II used thousands of them in battle. Ancient Greeks and Romans also used them. So didn't Alexander the Great, feudal lords in the Middle Ages, popes since 1506, Napoleon, and George Washington against the British in America's war of independence even though by the early 18th century western states enacted laws prohibiting their citizens from bearing arms for other nations. Although the practice continued sporadically, until more recently, private armies fell out of favor.

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Defining a Mercenary

Article 47 in the 1977 Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions provides the most widely, though not universally, accepted definition, based on six criteria, all of which must be met.

"A mercenary is any person who:

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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