Friday, March 31, 2006

Outsourcing Everything

It seems that one company wants to fulfill a Libertarian dream, sort of like: "If defense is privatized, then it will be cheaper, and there will be more of it."
Stepping into a potential political minefield, Blackwater USA is offering itself up as an army for hire to police the world's trouble spots. ...

Under Black's proposal, it would take on an overt combat role.

"We're low-cost and fast," Black was quoted as saying. "The issue is, who's going to let us play on their team?"

Unlike national and multinational armies, which tend to get bogged down by political and logistical limitations, Black said, Blackwater could have a small, nimble, brigade-size force ready to move into a troubled region on short notice.
Wait, hasn't this been tried somewhere before? Oh, yes:
Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous; and if one holds his state based on these arms, he will stand neither firm nor safe; for they are disunited, ambitious, and without discipline, unfaithful, valiant before friends, cowardly before enemies; they have neither the fear of God nor fidelity to men, and destruction is deferred only so long as the attack is; for in peace one is robbed by them, and in war by the enemy.

The fact is, they have no other attraction or reason for keeping the field than a trifle of stipend, which is not sufficient to make them willing to die for you. They are ready enough to be your soldiers whilst you do not make war, but if war comes they take themselves off or run from the foe; which I should have little trouble to prove, for the ruin of Italy has been caused by nothing else than by resting all her hopes for many years on mercenaries, and although they formerly made some display and appeared valiant amongst themselves, yet when the foreigners came they showed what they were. ...

The mercenary captains are either capable men or they are not; if they are, you cannot trust them, because they always aspire to their own greatness, either by oppressing you, who are their master, or others contrary to your intentions; but if the captain is not skilful, you are ruined in the usual way.
--Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

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