Is there a rationale for having contractors play this role instead of U.S. troops other than "Erik Prince runs a contracting company"? pic.twitter.com/aPyVmw0IpD
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) August 30, 2017
Sean McFate, at Politico:
For the past year, Erik Prince has been peddling an idea that should alarm anyone who has followed his career: We should replace U.S. troops in Afghanistan with mercenaries, preferably his…
The generals laughed at Prince, and thankfully the president went with the non-mercenary option. But Prince refuses to disappear, excoriating the generals in a recent op-ed for The New York Times, and pushing again for mercenaries, suggesting “it is not too late to alter the course.”
As a former military contractor, I cannot imagine a worse outcome for Afghanistan or the U.S. than handing everything over to mercenaries.
Prince’s argument has lots of problems. He insists contractors should not be stigmatized as “mercenaries,” even though he is proposing armed civilians in conflict zones—the classic definition of a mercenary…
Besides being offensive, Prince’s proposal is unworkable. I know because I’ve done these things. For years, I worked as a private military contractor in Africa and elsewhere. I built armies for clients, dealt with warlords, conducted strategic reconnaissance, worked with armed groups in the Sahara, transacted arms deals in Eastern Europe and even helped prevent a genocide in Central Africa…
When I raised an army in West Africa, under worse conditions, it took more than a handful of contractors at the battalion and company levels to create a professional, fully functioning military. A lot more. The U.S. Army War College asked me to write a monograph on how we did this, and—spoiler alert—it’s more complicated than Prince’s breezy plan. Then again, Prince has never raised a legitimate army.
The price is a problem too. Prince promises his plan will save “American taxpayers more than $40 billion a year.” Don’t believe him. Prince has not shared any financial details with the public, a curious omission. Would you buy a house without first asking the price? Of course not.
Where will these mercenaries come from? According to Prince, all will be “brave Americans” who are “former Special Operations veterans.” More sales talk. To keep costs down, he will probably have to outsource to the so-called Third World, where military labor is cheap. When I was in the industry, I worked alongside other ex-special forces and ex-paratroopers from places like the Philippines, Colombia and Uganda. We did the same missions, but they got Third World wages. Private warriors are just like T-shirts; they are cheaper in developing countries. Call it the globalization of private force…
Lastly, where has Prince been these last seven years? Why did he show up now? Like many mercenaries, he follows the money. After the Nisour Incident, he left Blackwater and helped raise a mercenary force for the United Arab Emirates. Now, he is working for the U.S.’s main geopolitical competitor, China…
Whether or not you trust Politico, it’s worth reading the whole article.
Now, there’s an argument that the NYTimes could’ve served a useful purpose in exposing the shoddy grift Betsy deVos’s brother is trying to sell Trump’s administration… if the Grey Lady hadn’t shown herself so fatally susceptible to the charms of every third-rate Reicht-wing promoter…
— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) August 30, 2017
You know how "retweets do not equal endorsements?" That's also how op-eds work in editorial pages. Good god. https://t.co/hrAXdJ0vye
— Jose A. DelReal (@jdelreal) August 30, 2017
Was one good reason to run this piece. It shines some light on Trump's potential effort to reward Prince surreptitiously at taxpayer expense https://t.co/gL289Ujnok
— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) August 30, 2017
Another note: that Prince is choosing to make this argument publicly is actually a reflection of his lost influence in the WH w/ Bannon gone
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) August 30, 2017
The Times probably wouldn't run an op-ed by Ted Kaczynski or Charles Manson. https://t.co/oX1FZg6IeV
— Mark A.R. Kleiman (@MarkARKleiman) August 30, 2017
That's an absurd comparison. And for the record, the NYT and the WP ran Kaczynski's manifesto! https://t.co/xO2QIAMHwN
— Michael Cohen (@speechboy71) August 30, 2017