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View Diary: Mercenaries, war, and my childhood (368 comments)

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  •  Mistake in typing (none)
    I meant to say from what I can tell the ones killed were american. Three of them at least.

    Doesn't invalidate my point. If you mourn US combat deaths among service members how can you not mourn them among former service members doing the same job?

    •  Easy (4.00)
      I am absolutely unwilling to grant every US veteran--however thankful I am for their service--carte blanche for the rest of their life to do whatever they want to do, which is the slippery slope where your argument leads.

      Look, imagine you have a veteran. He comes home and decides he's going to settle an old personal score with a guy he grew up with. But before he manages to shoot that guy, the guy shoots him first. Am I obliged to feel sorry that he died? Absolutely not! He did something reprehensible (taking the law into his own hands), and as a direct result of that, he died. His former service has nothing to do with that. I realize that, given that these guys are loosely associated with the US war effort over there, one might be inclined to assume they're participating in that effort. But they're not.

      Moreover, I'm unwilling to feel generic sympathy for just any American who gets killed. I'm particularly unlikely to feel sympathy for an American who is actively making it more likely that innocent people (of whatever nationality) will get killed. Or a person who is perpetuating a system of violence.

      In truth, I do feel terrible that these guys were abused the way they were. But I feel a lot more sympathy for that little boy Ali, who had all his limbs blown off and all his immediate family killed. Because he wasn't out there with a big gun threatening to shoot someone.

      •  What a valiant stand (none)
        On a point that had nothing to do with what I was saying. Soldiers and "contractors" do the exact some job. Or at least "contractors" do the same job as many soldiers. I'm not defending the institution of hired guns. But you have no way of knowing if these men were any better or any worse than the soldiers that died that day. They were all serving the interest of the US as defined by the Bush administration. I don't agree with those interests. But if two men are both paid to defend a building. How is the act by one more noble than the same act the other.

        This isn't about writing a blank check to veterans. Its about looking past your own hypocrisy and seeing that a uniform does not convey virtue or nobility.

        There seems to be a resentment of servicemen and women converting their experience into higher pay. Thats the part I simply don't understand. Its the same job. They drive in the same convoys often. Provide supporting fire and are based in the same camps.

        I go back to my original point, if they all have the same equipment, training, employer, and mission, how does their pay scale make one better than the other?

        •  Perhaps You Could Identify the qualms about Money (none)
          ===There seems to be a resentment of servicemen and women converting their experience into higher pay.

          Could you point out that resentment above?  You have been making claims that there is this bias against veterans or servicemen throughout this thread, but you haven't actually pointed any out. It is your responsibility to do so if you are going to continue claiming such a thing.  

          Nothing in the post you responded to said anything about the problem being their pay.  It was about the morality of participating in an institution--mercenary contractors--that is associated with a history of morally dubious tasks.  

    •  Here's How (4.00)
      The same way you don't mourn a former cop turned bodyguard for a mobster.  Or the same way you have much more sympathy for the sober victims of a multiple-death accident caused by a drunk driver.

      And just for the record, I have stated several times that I am saddened by the deaths of these men (it would seem they may have burned to death, a horrible fate), and that what was done to their remains was a grotesque atrocity.  But to compare what they do to what the Marines and the Army soldiers do is ridiculous.

      "Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom; and a great empire and little minds go ill together." - Edmund Burke

      by JJB on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 03:59:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  straw people (3.50)
        again. It's so interesting that the condemnation found here (on the left side) of kos' sentiments was of the "we're all human" variety, while from the right it would be of the "they were from the U.S. and they were on our side" variety--aside from a few remarks trending that way, I don't think most of the people here are coming at it from that angle.

        What we can more or less come to a consensus about is.

        1. the men are dead
        2. they died in a painful and horrific way. Frankly what happened to them after that is of more concern to their families. Being dead, it would no longer bother them that their bodies were being dismembered or dragged around.
        3. they were employed by a "mercenary" type company
        4. mercenaries are motivated mainly by money
        5. soldiers may not all be models of goodness and light, but they are higher up on the scale than mercenaries
        6. we (most of us anyway--and I certainly count myself here since I support a limited death penalty, didn't feel much sadness over the deaths of Jeffrey Dahmer or Tim McVeigh etc.) rate some deaths as more deserving of our sympathy than others
        7. not enough attention has been paid to military and especially civillian death in Iraq (too much attention to mercenaries? Sometimes I think we pay too much attention, proportionately, to our military dead in comparison to the Iraqi civillian deaths)
        Now we come to the sticky wicket. Are points 3 through 5 enough to make these particular men into Tim McVeighs or Jeffrey Dahmers? Some say yes. Personally, I'd say no, but then I don't have much invested in hating those types of men--perhaps others do.

        Why am I so darn rational?

        by JMS on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 04:43:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Better analogy (none)
        Is a cop who retires and becomes a rent a cop then gets gunned down in a robbery. Is his death less meaningful because he's no longer on the force?
        •  Some problems with your analogy (4.00)
          A rent-a-cop is subject to the laws of the city, state, and country where the mall he works at is located.

          Mercenaries work in an ambivalent space with regards to the law. They are not subject to the military code (which would otherwise protect the civilians in Falluja). They are not entitled to Geneva Convention protections. But you know what? If they brake the law, who's going to try them? Local Fallujans? You think Paul Bremer is going to let them do that? And if local Fallujans take matters into their own hands (I'm not saying these guys committed a crime, but since they operate in the grey area outside the law, they would be no applicable court to decide), then the US Armed Forces are going to have go in there and exact revenge. Our poorly-paid Marines are going to be avenging their death, even though from a strictly legal sense, they have no right to.

          Another difference:

          Rent-a-cops generally have minimal protection.
          Mercs have big guns.

          Another difference:

          Rent-a-cops work to protect a clear law--property--that is enforced by the clearly recognized authority of the mall's city, state, and country.
          Mercs work in a war zone, where authority is ambiguous. They work to protect more than just property. In this case, the perception (on the part of Fallujans) was that they weren't actually upholding a law at all, but were spying.

          Another difference:

          Rent-a-cops are paid crummy money for a job that can be dangerous.
          Mercs are paid great money for a job that is guaranteed to be dangerous.

          •  Thats why I avoid analogies (none)
            Neither of them really fit. But mine was still closer.

            Their actions are legal. They go against the spirit of the law. But there is no precedent limiting or defining the role of the contractor in the battle zone. There needs to be.

            But judgeing the value of someones life by whether or not legal vaugeries applied to them seems a bit odd.

        •  These are not meaningful comparisons (none)
          and I utterly reject the notion that how I feel about these deaths, or these people, determines how I should feel/think about this incident.

          These guys weren't "rent a cops" taking on lawful work that used the skills of their previous career--by definition their work isn't "lawful" in the context of Iraq or internationally.  So try the gedanken experiment of shifting their work to some other hot spot. Should I mourn the deaths of mercenaries protecting giant diamond corporations in the congo?  Should I  mourn the deaths of mercenaries working for SLORC in burma? What makes this scenario different?

          I also utterly reject the notion that not deeming these deaths the same as deaths of our own soldiers in combat is somehow hate filled or, even, inappropriately personal. Of course I'm sorry for these people and their families. But.

          and I'm entitled to that "but" because of all the issues that their deaths also raise for us as a people, as a country at war, as a population from whom draftees will be drawn to fight this war when these mercenaries refuse because the price is too high.


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