AmeriCAN-DO Attitude

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What Does it Mean to Call a U.S. Soldier a Mercenary?

I have made a few posts about the American leftists/liberals/progressives deciding to declare “war” on the members of the U.S. military. Those posts are here:

Liberal/Progressive/Left Americans Support Military-Hating William Arkin

It’s Official: Liberals Have Gone to War… Against the U.S. Military (UPDATED!)

Arkin to U.S. Soldiers: You’re Arrogant and Ignorant

A common practice of liberals, leftists and progressives (and some on the “right” as well) is to use rhetoric to describe that which they do not like, or with which they do not agree, which is very inflammatory and plays on the emotions of the ignorant. Examples of this would be using the terms fascists, fascism, Nazis, Nazism, Hitler, torturers, genocide, etc. When an audience, whether a reader of an article or a person listening to a speech or news broadcast, hears these terms, they immediately think of very bad and evil things from history. The natural reaction is to think “oh my gosh, what they’re doing is like Hitler/Nazis?!” And that is exactly the reaction the people who throw out these terms and use this rhetoric want you to have.

The problem is that rarely, if ever, is this rhetoric used properly and rarely, if ever, do the people using this rhetoric even understand the terms themselves! Almost always it is used in order to prey upon the ignorant, uninformed and easily fooled.

A prime example of that was recently when William Arkin called our U.S. soldiers “mercenaries”. I doubt many Americans even know what is a “mercenary” and why it is such an inflammatory insult to the members of the military. As Grim at Blackfive notes, it is the equivalent of saying that the members of the U.S. military are terrorists. As I noted in my posts to which I linked above, the most popular “mainstream” liberal/progressive/leftist blog on the internet agrees with William Arkin’s assessment of the U.S. military. This tells me that a majority of the American Left truely believe that members of the U.S. military are terrorists or just as bad as the terrorists.

If you want to know why we are struggling in the war effort, it is because half of our country sees moral equivalency between what the terrorists do and what our U.S. military does and thinks that we are no better than the terrorists.

To learn the facts about what is a “mercenary” and why our soldiers are not mercenaries, read Grim’s post at Blackfive: “Mercenaries”

What does it mean to say that a US soldier is a “mercenary”?

Mercenary isn’t just an adjective. In the context of war, it has a specific legal meaning. That meaning is established in the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949:

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.

So, the first thing to say about Arkin and the Kos kids is that they’re just wrong.

The second thing to say is this: the Conventions provide consequences to being a mercenary. A mercenary is a form of unlawful combatant, like a terrorist who fights without uniform.

The consequences are spelled out:

A mercenary shall not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war.

So, to say that US soldiers are “mercenaries” is to make a moral as well as a legal claim. The moral claim is that they are no better than the terrorists. It is to claim that the insurgent is right simply to shoot a US soldier if he should capture one. It is to claim that our soldiers deserve no better.

“Screw them,” more or less.

The legal claim is flatly wrong. The moral claim is worse. The Coalition soldiers and the Iraqi forces they’ve trained are the only parties in the conflict who uphold the Geneva Conventions. They are the one side who has sought to defend the idea that there is an honorable way to conduct a war, and that morality isn’t to be set aside just because you take up arms.

And no, I don’t want to hear about how ‘Bush has blah-blah-blah with the rule of law.’ The President is not the military. Whatever your opinion of the Bush administration, it should be noted that LCDR Charles Swift was the man who went to the Supreme Court in defense of the expansive reading of the Conventions, and in defiance of the administration, and who won there.

The Geneva Conventions have no greater defender than the US Military. Those who care about limiting the horrors of war owe that military their thanks and friendship, as well as their support. There is no excuse for slandering them in this way.


February 5, 2007 , 11:32PM - Posted by | American History, Anti-War Groups, Democrats, Leftist Groups, Media Bias, Military, Military History, Terrorism, War Effort in Iraq, William Arkin

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