The Rise Of Mercenary Armies, Terrorism, and Peace. Part 2

Part 2 in a two part series by guest author Dr Majed Ashy.

US State Department contract security, International (Green) Zone, Baghdad, Iraq.

US State Department contract security, International (Green) Zone, Baghdad, Iraq. Image by Tmaull, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Companies providing mercenaries need international regulations and need to be subjected to international law. Unlike governments that can be held accountable by voters, international law, and freedom of information act, these companies act like private national and international businesses that resist any intrusion into their work and claim a right to secrecy.

One of the many disturbing features regarding mercenary groups is that the standards of hiring are different of those of regular national armies. These mercenaries in different parts of the world can include individuals with criminal, psychiatric, or drug issues that influence their conduct. In addition, as we have seen in several incidents, these contracted mercenaries and their companies might not be held to the same standards and accountabilities of regular professional armies.
We might be moving into an era of wars that are not conducted by national armies for the sake of certain ideologies, religions, or national interests, but by private contracted armies of mercenaries who will fight outside the restrictions of international or national laws for narrow interests of individuals or groups or governments. This will take us into a new understanding of wars, terrorism, and peace.

Suggested reading: The Modern Mercenary: Private Armies and What They Mean for World Order by Sean McFate. A brief excerpt is available here.

Dr. Ashy is an assistant professor of psychology at Merrimack College and a research fellow in psychiatry at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School. He was born in Lebanon and is a Saudi. He earned his B.A., M.A, and Ph.D. in psychology from Boston University. His research in psychoneuroimmunology and political psychology focuses on childhood experience of adversity and its psychobiological consequences.

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The Rise Of Mercenary Armies, Terrorism, and Peace. Part 1

Part 1 in a two part series by guest author Dr Majed Ashy

Burned buses near Garyounis university, Benghazi, possibly of pro-Qadafi forces, as they attacked Benghazi on March 19, 2011.

Burned buses near Garyounis university, Benghazi, possibly of pro-Qadafi forces, as they attacked Benghazi on March 19, 2011. Image by Maher27777. Image is in the public domain.

Mercenaries, or hired fighters, have been part of wars for hundreds of years. Today, there are many private companies that have armies ranging in size from few security detail individuals to large professional armies. The activities of these companies can be to provide security to individuals, organizations, or facilities, or to provide mercenaries who will fight wars.

For example, the US government contracted some of these companies to fight in Iraq in 2003, run prisons, and even participate in interrogations. In addition, some international organizations working in conflict zones hire private companies to provide mercenaries for security and protection. Some countries contract these companies to provide security for various facilities inside the country or abroad.

In the worst case scenario, we can see some wealthy individuals or groups or countries who might hire mercenary armies to commit atrocities or even terrorism in order to advance their narrow economical or power interests without being held accountable. For example, Qadafi of Libya had a large army of mercenaries from Africa and other nations that he relied on for protection, control of Libya, and to fight his wars. This has been a booming business and is attracting more investments.

Dr. Ashy is an assistant professor of psychology at Merrimack College and a research fellow in psychiatry at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School. He was born in Lebanon and is a Saudi. He earned his B.A., M.A, and Ph.D. in psychology from Boston University. His research in psychoneuroimmunology and political psychology focuses on childhood experience of adversity and its psychobiological consequences.

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American Sniper, Part 5

By guest author Ross Caputi. This is the last in a series discussing the implications of the new film, American Sniper.

Editor: see the review of American Sniper by Rolling Stone.

In the most recent segment of my review of American Sniper, I argue that there is an inherent moral dilemma that neither Chris nor the film’s enthusiasts. Specifically, Chris must either suppress legitimate armed resistance and defend an invading army, or violate his orders. This moral dilemma never once occurred to Chris Kyle. And the backlash that I’m sure this suggestion will generate attests to the war culture in our country that prevents us from seeing ourselves as Iraqis do, as the aggressor.

Author’s bio: Ross Caputi is a former Marine who participated in the 2nd Siege of Fallujah. Today he is on the Board of Directors of the Islah Reparations Project.  He is also the Director of the documentary film Fear Not the Path of Truth: a veteran’s journey after Fallujah  Ross holds an MA in Linguistics and he is working on an MA in English Studies at Fitchburg State University. Read his blog here.

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American Sniper, Part 4

U.S soldiers posing with beheaded Viet cong,

The above picture shows exactly what the brass want you to do in the Nam. The reason for printing this picture is not to put down G.I.’s but rather to illustrate the fact that the Army can really fuck over your mind if you let it. It’s up to you, you can put in your time just trying to make it back in one piece or you can become a psycho like the Lifer (E-6) in the picture who really digs this kind of shit. It’s your choice. Image is in the public domain.

by Guest Author Ross Caputi

As shown in the first three segments of my review of American Sniper, many well-documented facts, crucial to understanding the American presence. Instead, the plot is guided by Chris Kyle’s autobiography, in which his narration of his life story describes the Iraq war and occupation through the lens of a number of common, but false, beliefs—like, for example, that the people we were fighting against were evil because Islam taught them to kill Americans.

One scene shows Chris in a moral dilemma. He is on a rooftop with his sniper rifle, and through the scope he sees a woman walking with a young child next to her (presumably her son) as she carries a grenade toward a US patrol. Chris must either kill a mother and her child or leave his countrymen exposed to an attack.

In his autobiography, Chris says that this event happened in Nasiriya during the initial invasion. However, Clint Eastwood decided to situate this scene during the 2nd siege of Fallujah in 2004. Also, in the film the woman hands the grenade to her son and encourages him to rush at the US patrol, whereas in the book it is the woman who tries to throw the grenade. Did Clint Eastwood think that the woman’s is a more representative portrayal of the Iraqi resistance? It’s not. These human-shield tactics were extremely rare and were only used by the most marginal and unpopular militias.

In the film, Chris kills both the woman and her son. Although visibly conflicted about what he felt obligated to do, he comments that, “that was evil like I ain’t never seen before.”

There is another moral dilemma in this scene that may not be obvious to American viewers: That woman had every right to attack the illegal, foreign invaders in her country, whether you agree with her tactics or not. We had no right to invade a sovereign nation, occupy it against the will of the majority of its citizens, and patrol their streets.

Author’s bio: Ross Caputi is a former Marine who participated in the 2nd Siege of Fallujah. Today he is on the Board of Directors of the Islah Reparations Project.  He is also the Director of the documentary film Fear Not the Path of Truth: a veteran’s journey after Fallujah  Ross holds an MA in Linguistics and he is working on an MA in English Studies at Fitchburg State University. Read his blog here.

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