A mercenary by any other name

Via email:

To whom this may concern,

In your quest to stop Blackwater, I suggest that you bring up this fact whenever possible. Blackwater is a foreign corporate owned mercenary army. That makes them an illegal invader. The DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE speaks out specifically against mercenary armies.

I bring this up with every police officer of any department that I come across, and this makes their ears perk. I tell them that Blackwater has the right to shoot a police officer dead with no fear of prosecution. I tell them that we need them to help stop Blackwater, and they tell me "Thank you."

Seriously.

With these additional thoughts:

From the Declaration of Independence:

"He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power."

"For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:"

"He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation."

And this excellent analysis of the technical issues involving Blackwater:

From the Geneva Convention of 1949:

A mercenary is a person who takes part in an armed conflict who is not a national or a party to the conflict and "is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party" (Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Convention of August 1949).

Art 47. Mercenaries

1. A mercenary shall not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war.
2. A mercenary is any person who:

(a) is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;
(b) does, in fact, take a direct part in the hostilities;
(c) is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party;
(d) is neither a national of a Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict;
(e) is not a member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict; and
(f) has not been sent by a State which is not a Party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces.

Certainly, this defines Blackwater exactly.

During the later Middle Ages, Free Companies (or Free Lances) were formed, consisting of companies of mercenary troops. Nation-states lacked the funds needed to maintain standing forces, so they tended to hire free companies to serve in their armies during wartime. Such companies typically formed at the ends of periods of conflict, when men-at-arms were no longer needed by their respective governments. The veteran soldiers thus looked for other forms of employment, often becoming mercenaries. Free Companies would often specialize in forms of combat that required longer periods of training that was not available in the form of a mobilized militia.

Niccolò Machiavelli argued against the use of mercenary armies in his masterpiece The Prince. His rationale was that since the sole motivation of mercenaries is their pay, they will not be inclined to take the kind of risks that can turn the tide of a battle, but may cost them their lives. He also noted that a mercenary who failed was obviously no good, but one who succeeded may be even more dangerous. He astutely pointed out that a successful mercenary army no longer needs its employer if it is more militarily powerful than its supposed superior. This explained the frequent, violent betrayals that characterized mercenary/client relations in Italy, because neither side trusted the other. He believed that citizens with a real attachment to their home country will be more motivated to defend it and thus make much better soldiers.

On 4 December 1989 the United Nations passed resolution 44/34 the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries. It entered into force on 20 October 2001 and is usually known as the UN Mercenary Convention[6]. Article 1 contains the definition of a mercenary. Article 1.1 is similar to Article 47 of Protocol I, however Article 1.2 broadens the definition to include a non-national recruited to overthrow a "Government or otherwise undermining the constitutional order of a State; or Undermin[e] the territorial integrity of a State;" and "Is motivated to take part therein essentially by the desire for significant private gain and is prompted by the promise or payment of material compensation..." — under Article 1.2 a person does not have to take a direct part in the hostilities in a planned coup d'état to be a mercenary.

1. A mercenary is any person who:

(a) Is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;
(b) Is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar rank and functions in the armed forces of that party;
(c) Is neither a national of a party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a party to the conflict;
(d) Is not a member of the armed forces of a party to the conflict; and
(e) Has not been sent by a State which is not a party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces.

2. A mercenary is also any person who, in any other situation:

(a) Is specially recruited locally or abroad for the purpose of participating in a concerted act of violence aimed at:

(i) Overthrowing a Government or otherwise undermining the constitutional order of a State; or
(ii) Undermining the territorial integrity of a State;

(b) Is motivated to take part therein essentially by the desire for significant private gain and is prompted by the promise or payment of material compensation;
(c) Is neither a national nor a resident of the State against which such an act is directed;
(d) Has not been sent by a State on official duty; and
(e) Is not a member of the armed forces of the State on whose territory the act is undertaken.

– UN Mercenary Convention

The complete UN "International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries"
http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/44/a44r034.htm

Clearly, Blackwater's "Greystone Ltd" fits the term of the UN definition, given that they hire "ex-pats" from anywhere.

The reason Blackwater does not like the term:

According to the GC III, a captured soldier must be treated as a lawful combatant, and, therefore, is a Protected Person, with Prisoner of War (PoW) status until facing a competent tribunal (GC III Art 5). That tribunal may decide that the soldier is a mercenary using criteria in APGC77 or some equivalent domestic law. At that juncture, the mercenary soldier becomes an unlawful combatant, but still must be "treated with humanity and, in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial", because they are still covered by GC IV Art 5. The only exception to GC IV Art 5 is if he is a national of the authority imprisoning him, but, in which case, he would not be a mercenary soldier as defined in APGC77 Art 47.d.

If after a regular trial, a captured soldier is found to be a mercenary, then he can expect treatment as a common criminal and may face execution. As mercenary soldiers are not PoWs, they cannot expect repatriation at war's end. The best known post-World War II example of this was on June 28, 1976 when at the end of the Luanda Trial an Angolan court sentenced three Britons and an American to death, and nine other mercenaries to prison terms ranging from 16 to 30 years. The four mercenaries sentenced to death were shot by a firing squad on July 10, 1976.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercenary

Comments

I can't wait for 2009.

----insert witty remark here----coming soon----

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Foreign?

James,

Could you elaborate on the term foreignin "Blackwater is a foreign corporate owned mercenary army"?

I think that would be a very powerful accusation if it meant that Blackwater were foreign-owned. Are you referring to the "ex-pats" they hire? (I'd like to know more about that, too.)

Thanks for keeping after these mercenaries.

-- ge

Besta é tu se você não viver nesse mundo
http://george.entenman.name

Besta é tu se você não viver nesse mundo
https://george.entenman.name

Sinking to the bottom...

Armies for hire are disgusting. If you are possibly able to justify a war, then you have determined a 'good' side and a 'bad' side. A mercenary army is only in it for the money. Nothing else. There is no honor and no trust. Period.

The U.S. Government assumes the level of the organizations that are hired to do it's work... reflecting the ethically bankrupt nature of the actions of this government.

If the government cannot fight wars without hiring the corporate darlings of the Administration, (like Halliburton and Blackwater), then the U.S. has no business in those situations. The taxpayers and voters never authorized this corporate control. It is a government stolen from the people.

But ‘we the people’ have the potential to shift the balance and regain the creativity and power that is our nature and our right. Not only do we have the capability, but we also have the responsibility, as the future is upon the shoulders of each one of us.

http://www.changing-history.com

Excellent Analysis.

I'm wondering how you get that Blackwater is "foreign" owned, too. But, if you think about it, BW is not owned by our government. Therefore, they are "foreign" in that sense.

I really want to see NC find a way to throw them out of our yard.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors

I couldn't figure it out either.

But I guess if I were an Iraqi citizen, I would definitely consider them "foreign owned."

One of the great failures of the Republican machine has been its egocentrism, or perhaps arrogance is a better choice of words. The inability or unwillingness to consider the value of others' points of view.

Good to see you.