Profiteering in War: the Case Against Mercenaries  

Photo by The U.S. Army | CC BY 2.0

Opening the August 30 New York Times, I was surprised (and personally appalled) to find Erik Prince on the opinion page with his own by-lined article (“Contractors, Not Troops, Will Save Afghanistan”). While Prince is entitled to his opinion, it seemed to me his former role as head of Blackwater should have denied him the privilege of expressing it from the vaulted platform of the NYT.

Taking issue with the Prince op-ed, I maintain that the U.S. military should never hire mercenaries, whether directly or through Blackwater-type firms since contract soldiers have a vested interest in prolonging a war.  Their private employers, investors, and lobbyists have a similar interest in advocating pro-war policies in the halls of Congress.

Enriched by a succession of lucrative government security contracts and serving for years as a CIA lackey, Prince’s security company Blackwater earned opprobrium for its high-handed aggressiveness in Iraq as it escorted government VIPs around Baghdad and beyond.  Repeated abuses of Iraqi pedestrians and motorists came to a head when four Blackwater employees opened fire in a crowded square in Baghdad in 2007, killing 17 and wounding 20.  Prince defended his security force but sold the company in 2010.

Now Prince would elevate the role of the private contractor from security to actual combat. His op-ed envisions a “contractor force of less than 6,000 (far less than the 26,000 in the country…

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