Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Mercenaries: Moral or Immoral?

I've just finished watching Sophia Shevardnadze interviewing Simon Mann about his life as a mercenary on Russia Today (LINK), and it caused me to question my view on mercenaries that I had been spoon-fed by society - i.e. that mercenaries are money-grubbing, adventurers, who are trigger happy and don't care about anything or anyone but their own pay-packet and the good times.  The fact of the matter is that mercenary groups can be either moral or immoral.  Fighting and morality are not mutually exclusive.  They are symbiotic as long as the men who are mercenaries want to be moral.  Mercenary groups, like any groups including societies, are as moral as the choices that the people who inhabit them make.  They can choose to hire themselves out to the highest paying customer, or they can hire themselves out to someone who has a cause that they believe in.  It's entirely up to them what they choose to do.

Here are three examples from history of mercenaries taken from the wikipedia article on mercenaries who chose to fight for something more than money:
- The Saikashuu were famed for the support of Ikko Buddhist sect movements and greatly impeded the advance of Oda Nobunaga's forces.
- In 2006, a U.S. congressional report listed a number of PMCs and other enterprises that have signed contracts to carry out anti-narcotics operations and related activities as part of Plan Colombia.
- The report also investigated the failures of the UN Peacekeeping Force, and the involvement of mercenaries and private military contractors in providing vital support to UN operations and British military Special Operations in Sierra Leone in 1999–2000.

Like many aspects of modern life it seems prudent to question the assumptions/pre-judices that society has about certain groups of people, particularly if they are groups of men.  The manosphere/androsphere has pointed out, and keeps pointing out, that many of societies assumptions about men are wrong (e.g. that all men are rapists/potential rapists, that men abuse children more than women, that men are more violent than women, etc); and there are almost certainly more erroneous-assumptions littering our society that are yet to be discovered.  Mercenaries are one of those groups that society wrongly assumes are all immoral.  They are not all like the Catalan Company (who ransacked innocent villages) or Blackwater (who killed innocent civilians).  The only way to see the truth, that mercenaries can be moral or immoral, is to doubt the assumptions of society and form your own conclusions based on your own observations.

There's a good three-part documentary series on mercenaries that is interesting (though I can only find a Russian language version HERE) made by the Discovery Channel.  It deals with the various ranks of the company: from the fighting of the Corporals on the front line, to the politics of the Chief Executive in the board room.  It takes away a lot of the romance of the life, which is always good.  Seeing things as they are is preferable to seeing them solely in romantic-emotional terms.  One scene from the documentary was about a mercenary helicopter shooting at pirates onboard a freight-ship during a rescue mission, and was as emotional as doing paperwork.  It was totally unlike war movies or video games which tend to over-excite the emotions.



  1. I know a guy who was a mercenary in Rhodesia. Great guy. Too bad his side lost.

  2. IIRC Thomas Chittum (author of 'Civil War 2: the coming break up of America') also fought in the Rhodesian civil war as a mercenary. It chips away at the silly notion that mercenaries only fight for booty like a cartoon character from a pirate movie. After all, most professional soldiers fight because they get paid for it. The only people that fight and don't get paid are voluntary militia forces, like the typical Swiss civilian. They are the men who fight for their homeland and not for a paycheck.

  3. He got a soldier's pay but fought because he believed in the cause. And he was an American, not South African or Rhodesian.