Is Privatizing The Army a Good Idea?

My Recent Posts

This is as controversial as it gets. I have mixed feelings about Erik Prince, who seems to be part of a power-hungry family which might reach high offices in future generations. Betsy DeVos is alreay Secretary of Education.


The successes of his private army against piracy is underreported and it stands to ask why the media is not telling us about it. The beef of the matter, however, is whether or not substantial parts of the military should be private.


The main reason for it which is only hinted by Prince, but it’s very obvious to careful listeners: We have over-regulated the forces. Is it possible that we accept enduring murder, kidnapping and mutilation because we don’t want to break some rules while engaging our enemies?


This leads me to a fundamental question: Why are we following the rules which we follow? This has a pseudo-religious dimension for many and is therefore not publicly discussed very often. Whether a rule or not is just was once determined by how G-d (or the pagan deities) was believed to view the matter. Society moved on to acknowledge our own responsibility in law making and we developed institutions like the modern parliamentary system.


International laws, however, are different. They were not produced through a generally accepted legal process. They are the results of backdoor deals. Particularly because of that intransparency they have gained a nearly mythical status.


It is taken for granted that we must find a serene gas attack (as ascribed to Bashar al Assad) morally worse than Boko Haram burning down entire villages with their inhabitants. Nobody suggests that the latter would require any military action from foreign militaries.


This brings me to the most obvious paradox of the elite narrative: If you agree to have international laws, you need a world police to enforce them. If you don’t want a world police to enforce international law, you cannot uphold international law. It is also very obvious that these never questioned international laws are only quoted selectively to advance one group or another. The world police is usually picked by the very country that sees an advantage in usurping the role.


We end up in a mess where everybody does what he wants, justifying it with backdoor deal rules which are religiously worshipped by the masses. At the same time all the smoke and mirror games produce a body of rules so rigid that countries seek private contractors to escape the overbearing responsibilities. It is like privatizing censorship to Facebook and Google. You can dodge rules by bringing the moron left and the moron right together behind the legal status of the organizations involved.


Wouldn’t it be better if we abolished international laws? Maybe we are better off reducing the rule book to two easy items:

  1. An attack on us or our allies will consistently lead to a measured military response.
  2. If your treatment of your people is objectively much worse than other countries’ treatment of their people, we will kill you.

First published on:


Thomas Sutrina Added Dec 2, 2018 - 12:46pm
Benjamin Goldstein, your under the illusion that the United Nations is more then a discussion group like WB.   The general assembly is a stock market affair where people trade with each other political issues and strengths. 
The Security council is the only group that actually has the ability to use force.  And it requires unanimous agreement to act.  Which means that rogue nations only violate the rules of the game get punished, Korea being the only exception because of a tactical error.  That error will never be repeated.  So it will only apply force when all of the members have their self interest served.  Doesn't sound like a police force to me but a small group of bullies that seldom work together  standing around on the play ground.  Each has the ability to act individually and the group are bound to not joint together formally to oppose them. 
Throwing in fairness, caring, etc is meaningless since as a group they can not agree upon fairness or caring.   How can nations that have murdered thousand of their one people have a bone in the government that is either caring or believes in fairness?  Just take one to end action.     
Thomas Sutrina Added Dec 2, 2018 - 1:12pm
Why do we follow the rules that we follow?  We follow the rules when the resulting punishment is less acceptable then gain from not follow the rule.  and I am going to expand rule to common law and or common morals of society.
Thus if the goal is to replace a Constitution of written laws and a formal procedure to change them with an  'flexible Constitution' as President Wilson argued (this is documented and you can find it on the internet).  Today we use 'living Constitution'  but life to a written law is an unwritten law that changes by the whim of the judge that determines if a law has been broken.  That is called a tyrannical law.  
So when a law in not enforced there two possible reasons.  The first is that society as measured by a jury of twelve people that have the ability to judge the failure to follow a law by actions.  In addition that can not be separated also can judge the persons mental state and finally can JUDGE THE VALIDITY OF THE LAW for that person or society in general.  The jury creates common law.  Additionally the court system creates common law by there actions. 
The second is that politicians choose to instead of changing a law formally change it by  (A) actual direction, for example a presidential executive order.  (B) under funding so that it can not actually be effectively enforced.  (C) giving informal permission to act saying that we will not punish you through other means, example is the KKK, today Antefa on university campuses or in DIM  controlled cities, and taging police as not worth following, removing the implied respect.  (D) retaining subordinates that are implementing what you really want and also violating the laws or procedures.  (E) bench decisions that create in effect legislation, regulation, or new standards that are outside the powers granted by the Constitution and laws.
Stone-Eater Added Dec 2, 2018 - 1:14pm
To the title:
Essential services should NEVER be privatized.
Jeff Michka Added Dec 2, 2018 - 1:48pm
Yeah, but SEFa, rightists here believe that if we hire private sector hit men, the Sun will shine, there will be no more war, etc.  All problems "solved" by the vaunted private sector.  Do we pay the hitmen benefits like VA or does the company they worked for pay it.  And like other market sectors, will thdy under pay and under compensate their private soldiers?  What wpuld stop them?  And moreover, what about these private troops?  "We aren't making enough money to take hill 557, fuck you people."  Nope, real bad idea to privatized the military.
John Minehan Added Dec 2, 2018 - 1:48pm
As far as counter-piracy, that had generally been privatized until the late 19th Century under the rubric of Letters of Marque and Reprisal, so it is not surprising that worked.
Field Artillery was the realm of private firms until at least the 18th Century.  If I am not mistaken, the teamsters who maintained the horses and rolling stock for the Royal Artillery in Britain were civilians right into the 19th Century.
So contractors doing highly technical things is not unique in history.
Giving a private military company power to wage a war, though, has not been common since the day of Sir John Hawkwood and the White Company.
Of course, hiring another state's army happened with Great Britain in the American Revolution and the Saudis have done this off and on wit the Pakistani Army until recently.
There really is nothing new under the sun.  
Mr. Vengeance Added Dec 2, 2018 - 1:52pm
@ BG - I have mixed feelings about mercenaries. They have been around for thousands of years and aren't going away any time soon, but the modern so-called Private Military Companies ("PMC") are another story. As the U.S. military downsized during the 1990's as part of the so-called "peace dividend" following the Cold War, the then-CIA director said, "We just killed the dragon. Now we are in a jungle filled with poisonous snakes". The U.S. military, stretched thin by Clinton (its numbers, but not its budget), had no choice but to rely more and more on contractors. This is where companies like Kellogg-Brown-Root and Blackwater come into play; the former especially has extensive experience operating on behalf of the U.S. Government for whatever reason, which is why they usually get the "no-bid" projects.
PMCs do have their uses. My favorite PMC story involves a South African outfit called Executive Outcomes. Back in 1995, requested and paid by the Sierra Leone government, they kicked the shit out of some rebels in that helpless yet diamond-rich African nation, but then the UN got mad, Executive Outcomes was made to withdraw, the UN came in, and within weeks, the situation was worse than before Executive Outcomes arrived.
The PMCs also have a deleterious effect on normal military units in general and special operations personnel in particular, because they pay much, much more than any military, so it's like the M16/M4/AKM equivalent of a brain drain. The massive corruption that surrounds the PMCs also doesn't help their public image very much; videos of them lighting Cuban cigars and wiping their asses with $100 bills are by far the mildest of the material I've watched them do, lol.
John Minehan Added Dec 2, 2018 - 1:53pm
Isn't part of why Prince thinks there is a market for private forces in Afghanistan that he can more easily retain subject matter experts than the military can?
Mr. Vengeance Added Dec 2, 2018 - 2:09pm
The word "soldier" is derived from a French word for "mercenary".
George N Romey Added Dec 2, 2018 - 2:14pm
Only if the US would want never ending wars. As it is we’re pretty much there already.
Bill H. Added Dec 2, 2018 - 2:20pm
Privatizing any branch of Military service would be a real dumb move.
This would create a financial incentive to pursue more wars and conflicts.
Imagine Prince running the military like a corporation whos only focus is stockholder profits, CEO compensations, and the bottom line of the month-end financial report. The value of the individual soldier would drop to a new low.
I worked with some of these guys years ago on implementation and training of a ground-based ECM system, and I know what their priorities and attitudes are.  
Ryan Messano Added Dec 2, 2018 - 3:17pm
Surprisingly, I find myself in
agreement with Bill.
The British used private soldiers in the Revolutionary War, the Romans and Persians used mercenaries, and all three had bed ends from hired help.
In 490 BC, Athens, on the other hand, showed what works.  Their 10,000 citizen soldier hoplites smashed the 25,000 vaunted hired mercenaries of the Persian King Xerxes on the Plains of Marathon.  Then, to ensure the Persian fleet didn’t get to Athens and trick them into opening the gates, A Greek runner ran 25 miles to give them the news of the Athenian victory, and died upon announcing it, and thus we have the 26.2 mile Marathon.  
Doug Plumb Added Dec 2, 2018 - 5:16pm
@Thomas, I would say that living laws are statutory (legalist) in nature and that dead laws form the common law, which Christ called the wine (reason) that gets better yet does not change fundamentally  with age, (as does math). The dead law is symbolized by the black robe of the judge, the living laws are the laws of men and symbolized by the red robe, which is a robe soaked in the blood of the legalist's enemy. Under living law, might makes right.
Doug Plumb Added Dec 2, 2018 - 5:19pm
Armies will enforce the living laws.
Doug Plumb Added Dec 2, 2018 - 5:20pm
oops - Private armies will enforce the living laws, as do our national armies of today enforce the living laws, as we have accepted a "living currency" we also accept living laws.
John Minehan Added Dec 2, 2018 - 6:09pm
"This would create a financial incentive to pursue more wars and conflicts.
Imagine Prince running the military like a corporation whos only focus is stockholder profits, CEO compensations, and the bottom line of the month-end financial report. The value of the individual soldier would drop to a new low."
That turns on what degree of exclusivity there is on the service contract. In the 18th Century, if one side lost, the other might hire their Artillery, if they were any good. 
Historically, mercenary forces valued their people more than conscript Armies did. 
TreeParty Added Dec 2, 2018 - 10:55pm
"To the title:
Essential services should NEVER be privatized."
Thank you Stone Eater..
Flying Junior Added Dec 2, 2018 - 11:58pm
All over the map, Benjamin.  In the first place the United States has already been employing private security companies to do military and para-military operations.  I think it mostly started in South America.  All very hush-hush.  Then we went above the ground.  This all thrived under President Cheney.  Blackwater.  Halliburton.  Carlyle Group.  Blackwater tried to dodge its past by renaming itself Xe.  They needed a third layer of anonymity from their crimes in Iraq and chose to change their name again to Academi.
I knew you couldn't be talking about Germany or the United States.  For one thing, if nothing else, the United States military does conduct itself with honor.  They may be ordered to bomb the shit out of various countries or even go house-by-house totalitarian invasion style.  But I am certainly a lot more comfortable with U.S. Army in charge than some war profiteering, unaccountable army of right-wing fucking monsters.  No, I did not forget Abu Ghraib or Bagram.  Remember, it happened under President Cheney.
So by virtue of the fact that Interpol does not have the armaments or mandate to subjugate any force on Earth, that means that we should abolish international law?  Are you sure?  I don't follow your logic.
For one thing, the only developed nation on Earth which does not recognize the World Court is, of course, the rogue nation itself:  The good old United States of America.  We will heal from this Benjamin.  Obama was too busy saving our economy to undo every insult and injury suffered under the sadistic presidency of GWB.
What Stone said.

Flying Junior Added Dec 3, 2018 - 12:00am
That Betsy DeVos is a sick example of a really stupid person in a position of great power.
Troll Hunter Added Dec 3, 2018 - 12:21am
Privatize the existing army?
Are you mad?
We would crush you and all your seed...
Flying Junior Added Dec 3, 2018 - 12:29am
If they privatized the Army, all of the troops would live in shitty barracks and only work thirty hours a week so that they didn't receive any benefits.  There would be no more off-base housing allowance.  Worst of all they could privatize the Veteran's Administration for all of the soldiers who weren't grandfathered in.  They could offer really shitty health insurance for a small percentage of their lousy paychecks.  Maybe a 403b instead of a pension?
You have to be a professional level mercenary of death to work for Dick Cheney for the big bucks.
Goddess knows they don't pay soldiers a living wage the way things are today.

Ken Added Dec 3, 2018 - 2:47am
We are not only not subject to "international law", we have rejected it except for any which we have signed treaties to.  That is constitutionally sound.  We are a sovereign country, and not subject to arbitrary international coercion.  One of the few constitutional duties clearly set out for the federal government as a responsibility is defending our sovereignty and maintaining the military.
Privatizing the military is a terrible idea and starts leading to graft and abuse.
Stone-Eater Added Dec 3, 2018 - 2:54am
When one has enough money to live on, he's a rightist. If he has not, he's a leftist. And depending on the economic situation of someone, that can change ;-)
opher goodwin Added Dec 3, 2018 - 7:22am
Ben - ISIS have applied to take the job on! 
Mustafa Kemal Added Dec 4, 2018 - 11:36pm
Benjamin, I just watched House of Cards, Season 6. Dont recommend it. 
But there is a painting in the oval office that looks very much like your avatar. Can you tell me where your avatar is from?
Benjamin Goldstein Added Dec 5, 2018 - 1:57pm
The last time I tried to react to your great responses, my screen froze and I was a bit too frustrated to try it again.

Thomas: The UN is a laughing stock. You are also right about "flexible" or "living" constitutions. That's simply people talking that don't want to adhere to the minimal consensus of our civilisation. There are a many bloated constitutions out there, but people complaining that the US constitution were to stiff and must be handed more flexibly have a problem with the system itself.

SEF: You don't mean all services, do you? We don't need state hairdressers and state taxis.

Michka: Contractors earn quite well.

Minehan: It is indeed nothing new under the sun.

MB: I also see the risk of corruption. I think that we are only in Afghanistan because our governments and their cronies are every bit as corrupt as theirs. But your Sierra Leone story shows that the PMCs get a job done the UN troops can't do because they are not following well-meaning rules that ultimately kill more people than they save. To the brain drain problem I have always the same answer: pay more!

Bill H: I think the whole military industrial complex needs to be sized down. There are too many who profit from it. The military should be smaller and more flexible.

Ryan: I think you pick a very small group of examples in which a draft armee won against mercenaries or mercenaries changed sides. But as Minehan had pointed out, most wars were fought almost exclusively with mercenaries, so the pure look at the overall result of a few example does not really replace looking into arguments.

Doug: Are  you into lyrics now? Sounds like you read too much poetry as of recently.

FJ: I am very proud of the American Armee. You are right that they do conduct themselves in honor. I find your accountability argument good. I think contractors are still accountable to the Congress that pays for them. But what do you think about an EU army? That would have no democratic control. Macron is pushing for it.
"Goddess knows they don't pay soldiers a living wage the way things are today." Yes, I think Ann Coulter would agree to bringing the troops home from Afghanistan and grant them a pay rise.

Ken: You are right. I have mentioned it above, too. No police, no law. But in Europe we have a discussion about "soft law" at the moment. It is the notion that politicians, the media and corporations point to contracts and non-binding rule sets so that people just believe they were the law of the land. They will then materialize these soft laws in hard laws over the long run. The EU started as some trade deals and is now a complete nation.

SEF: wrong.

Opher: I rather see them fighting for us than some socialists.

Kemal: Would love to see a screenshot of that? Can you make one and maybe upload it? There are free image upload sites where you can put it and leave a link. I drew the avatar myself.
Mustafa Kemal Added Dec 5, 2018 - 6:51pm
Benjamin, now that I am looking at these images I clearly see the difference. Here
FacePalm Added Dec 6, 2018 - 7:22am
No, the military should NOT be privatized, and many of the Founders felt the same way, to wit:
"Under every government, the dernier [Fr. last, or final] resort of the people, is an appeal to the sword; whether to defend themselves against the open attacks of a foreign enemy, or to check the insidious encroachments of domestic foes.  Whenever a people... entrust the defence of their country to a regular, standing army, composed of mercenaries, the power of that country will remain under the direction of the most wealthy citizens."
-- A Framer, Anonymous 'framer' of the US Constitution
Source: Independent Gazetteer, January 29, 1791
The super-wealthy ALREADY have too much power, and i'm certain that many of them have indeed hired multiple small armies to accomplish their desires (certainly including but not limited to STARTING wars from which they intend to profit) on any number of occasions, both personal and business; a proverbial saying i'm aware of goes "In proportion to one's wealth will anger be multiplied," and that has quite the ring of truth, to me.
i daresay that many of the aforementioned are quite likely to be able to put up quite a fight, should even the US army be dispatched to round them up, say, from refusing to appear iaw a duly-issued summons or subpoena.
"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."
Thomas Jefferson, 1816
This prescient warning was not heeded, unfortunately - or, as is more likely, Congresscretins were bought off to foreclose that eventuality by making laws against it.
Mustafa Kemal Added Dec 7, 2018 - 10:41pm
"Is Privatizing The Army a Good Idea?
NO. If Americans think it is worth fighting for  they should send there own children to do the dying. 

The privatization scam  has been raiding the american economy since Reagan. 
Yep, give it to the corporations with political clout, it will then become more efficeient. LOL

Recent Articles by Writers Benjamin Goldstein follows.