Mercenary

soldier who fights for hire

A mercenary, sometimes known as a soldier of fortune, is an individual who takes part in military conflict for personal profit, is otherwise an outsider to the conflict, and is not a member of any other official military. Mercenaries fight for money or other forms of payment rather than for political interests. In the last century, mercenaries have increasingly come to be seen as less entitled to protections by rules of war than non-mercenaries. Indeed, the Geneva Conventions declare that mercenaries are not recognized as legitimate combatants and do not have to be granted the same legal protections as captured soldiers of a regular army. In practice, whether or not a person is a mercenary may be a matter of degree, as financial and political interests may overlap, as was often the case among Italian condottieri.

QuotesEdit

 
They go by many names- mercenaries, soldiers of fortune, wild geese, hired guns, legionnaires, contract killers, hirelings, condottieri, contractors, and corporate warriors- these men who have fought for money and plunder rather than cause or patriotism. Soldiers of fortune have always played significant roles in warfare, they are present on the battlefields of today, and they certainly will be a part of whatever combat occurs in the future. ~ Michael Lee Lanning
 
I guess a man's got to do what he's best at
Ain't found nothin' better so far
Been called mercenaries and men with no country
Just soldiers in search of a war ~ Steve Earle
 
And we're bound for the border
We're soldiers of fortune
And we'll fight for no country but we'll die for good pay
Under the flag of of the greenback dollar
Or the peso down Mexico way ~ Steve Earle
 
"Mercenaries?" I ventured. "Agh! Mercenaries!" Bob exclaimed, like I had stabbed him. "Now that's the worst thing you can be. Worse than a prostitute. Your life is the most valuable thing you got. Die for your own freedom, that's great, but kill and die for a buck? He looked at me again, shooting more wisdom out of his violently pointing finger. "Never do anything just for money!" ~ Paul Jury
 
Look into the face of a man who will kill you for a belief and your nostrils will snuff up the scent of abomination. Hear a speech declaring a holy war and, I assure you, your ears should catch the clink of evil's scales and the dragging of its monstrous tail over the purity of the language. No, we do it for the money. And because we above all must know the value of a human life, we do it for a great deal of money. There can be few cleaner motives, shorn of all pretense. ~ Dr. Cruces
 
Listen, sister, I'm not in this for you, and I'm not in this for your revolution. I'm in it for the money. I expect to be well paid.
 
"If I told you to murder an infant girl, say, still at her mother's breast, would you do it, without question?"
"Without question? No. I'd ask how much."
  • "Mercenaries?" I ventured. "Agh! Mercenaries!" Bob exclaimed, like I had stabbed him. "Now that's the worst thing you can be. Worse than a prostitute. Your life is the most valuable thing you got. Die for your own freedom, that's great, but kill and die for a buck? He looked at me again, shooting more wisdom out of his violently pointing finger. "Never do anything just for money!"
    • Paul Jury, States of Confusion: My 19,000-Mile Detour to Find Direction (2011), p. 168
  • The idea of the mercenary springs from the same mentality as the one expressed by the two Chinese watching a couple of Europeans playing tennis under the hot sun of Shanghai. As they seemed rather exhausted, one of the sons of the Celestial Empire remarked to the other: "It's odd. This club has only well-to-do members. They easily could afford coolies to play in their stead." Yet the institution of mercenary armies still did not mark the nadir of war methods in Europe. It was at least not a return to the laws of the jungle, of primitive tribes, where every male capable of bearing arms has to join in. The officers had still the background of warriors; they were frequently second or third sons of noble families out for adventures, but nevertheless educated in the habits of chivalry. The average mercenary, on the other hand, was usually a ne'er-do-well, maybe the son of the henchman; he belonged to the scum of the cities or the village and he was often nothing else than a courageous jailbird.
  • They go by many names- mercenaries, soldiers of fortune, wild geese, hired guns, legionnaires, contract killers, hirelings, condottieri, contractors, and corporate warriors- these men who have fought for money and plunder rather than cause or patriotism. Soldiers of fortune have always played significant roles in warfare, they are present on the battlefields of today, and they certainly will be a part of whatever combat occurs in the future.
    • Michael Lee Lanning, Mercenaries (2005), p. 1
  • The need for soldiers of fortune has and will change little. Their organization into corporate-owned private military companies is a major evolution, but mercenaries will exist wherever warfare exists.
    • Michael Lee Lanning, Mercenaries (2005), p. 234
  • Today, 75 percent of U.S. forces in Afghanistan are contracted. Only about 10 percent of these contractors are armed, but this matters not. The greater point is that America is waging a war largely via contractors, and U.S. combat forces would be impotent without them. If this trend continues, we might see 80 or 90 percent of the force contracted in future wars.
  • Today, more contractors are killed in combat than soldiers—a stunning turnaround from the start of the wars Iraq and Afghanistan, when fewer than 10 percent of casualties were contractors. By 2010, more contractors were dying than troops. However, the real number of contractor deaths —versus the “official” tally—remains unknown.
  • Most of those fighting for the United States abroad aren’t even Americans. Private military companies are multinational corporations that recruit globally. When I worked in the industry, my colleagues came from almost every continent. According to a recent Pentagon report, just over 33 percent of private military contractors in Afghanistan are U.S. citizens.
  • Many of the larger private military companies also hire local “subs” or sub-contractors, often invisible to U.S. government officials and reporters. In 2010, during the height of the wars, a Senate investigation found evidence that these “subs” were linked to murder, kidnapping, bribery, and anti-Coalition activities. Similarly, in a 2010 report titled “Warlord, Inc.,” the House of Representatives found that the Department of Defense had hired warlords for security services. What happens to these subs when the big contractor goes home? In some notable, alarming cases, they go into business for themselves, breeding mercenary markets in the wake of a U.S. intervention.
  • Giving birth to such markets is just one of the many ways that contractors encourage dangerous policymaking. Unlike the Pentagon or CIA, private military companies do not report to Congress, circumventing democratic accountability of the armed forces.
  • Contractors, then, allow policymakers to wage war outside of the public eye. Their deaths rarely attract headlines the way those of fallen American soldiers do.
  • No international laws exist to regulate the mercenary industry. What we’re left with: If anyone with enough money can wage war for any reason they want to, then new superpowers will emerge: the ultra-rich and multinational corporations. Oil companies and oligarchs should not have armies.
  • The oppressed were organized in Liberation Movements which started guerilla warfare against their oppressors. Though poorly equipped, their determination and commitment led to unexpected success. To combat the national liberation movements, the imperialists could no longer come out in the open and expose themselves. This would make them lose face. All they wanted was to "invisibly" control these countries. It is in this context that the modem mercenary has become an important tool of imperialism. Mercenarism as a form of soldiering is used as a vehicle for fighting the liberation movements and independent developing countries.
    • C.M. Peter, "Mercenaries and International Humanitarian Law", 24 Indian J. of Int'l L., 373, 377-78 (1984); as qtd. in Marie-France Major, "Mercenaries and International Law", Georgia J. Int'l & Comp. L. 103 (1992), p. 106.

Literary FictionEdit

  • We do not murder. We do not torture. We do not, you may be very certain, we do not execute. We have no truck with crimes of passion or hatred or pointless gain. We do not do it for delight in inhumation, or for some cause or belief- I tell you, gentlemen, all of these reasons are in the highest degree suspect. Look into the face of a man who will kill you for a belief and your nostrils will snuff up the scent of abomination. Hear a speech declaring a holy war and, I assure you, your ears should catch the clink of evil's scales and the dragging of its monstrous tail over the purity of the language. No, we do it for the money. And because we above all must know the value of a human life, we do it for a great deal of money. There can be few cleaner motives, shorn of all pretense.

Film and Television QuotesEdit

  • Mercenaries! That were paid to come over here to make us crawl, and to wipe us out. We've just sent a message to the British cabinet that will echo and reverberate around the world! If they bring their savagery over here, we will meet it with a savagery of our own!
  • "If I told you to murder an infant girl, say, still at her mother's breast, would you do it, without question?"
    "Without question? No. I'd ask how much."

Song LyricsEdit

  • I guess a man's got to do what he's best at
    Ain't found nothin' better so far
    Been called mercenaries and men with no country
    Just soldiers in search of a war
    • Steve Earle, "Mercenary Song", Train a Comin' (1995)
  • And we're bound for the border
    We're soldiers of fortune
    And we'll fight for no country but we'll die for good pay
    Under the flag of of the greenback dollar
    Or the peso down Mexico way
    • Steve Earle, "Mercenary Song", Train a Comin' (1995)

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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