Using Mercenaries Is a Dangerous Development
By Staff News & Analysis - September 20, 2011

Libya: Gaddafi forces claim to have captured British 'mercenaries' … A spokesman for Muammar Gaddafi has claimed that 17 "mercenaries", including what he called French and British "technical experts" had been captured in the Gaddafi bastion of Bani Walid in Libya. – UK Telegraph

Dominant Social Theme: The Arab Spring has swept away dictators like Muammar Gaddafi – of this there is no doubt!

Free-Market Analysis: In this article excerpt above, we find yet more evidence that NATO and the West – especially the Anglosphere – has been hiding behind local fighters while organizing the campaign against Gaddafi. This might explain the taking of Tripoli and the general difficulties that Gaddafi has experienced in holding out against a disorganized and ineffective "rebel" fighting force.

Muammar Gaddafi and his (now) rump government, ensconced in a few towns along the Northern rim of Libya, have often claimed that Western military forces have far over-reached their UN mandate (whatever it once was); it is likely they have. It makes sense such forces would be mercenary, as that provides NATO with arms'-length deniability.

With many other publications, we've reported in the past on a NATO ground presence in Libya. This almost has to be so as it is impossible to target bombs accurately without some knowledge of on-the-ground activity. In an embarrassing episode several months ago, British soldiers were arrested by Gaddafi's troops inside the country before the tide of the war had seemingly turned against him.

The use of mercenaries has been rising dramatically in the 21st Century. America is the muscle behind NATO, but US forces are part of an all-volunteer army that is likely not up to the task of prosecuting what may now be five separate wars in the Middle East and Africa while sustaining up to 1,000 military and spying bases around the world.

The military industrial complex of the US is feeling the strain and thus mercenaries are a good, if temporary, solution. The trouble with mercenaries is that they are not very controllable and their paymasters may have a different agenda from the country or countries they are fighting for. According to Telegraph reports, the soldiers recently captured were mercenaries, though not from the US.

"A group was captured in Bani Walid consisting of 17 mercenaries. They are technical experts and they include consultative officers," Moussa Ibrahim told Syrian-based Arrai TV. "Most of them are French, one of them is from an Asian country that has not been identified, two English people and one Qatari," he added.

He said the 17 would be shown on television at a later time, but did not give more details. It was not immediately possible to verify the claims. The French foreign ministry said it had no information regarding the report. NATO, French and British officials had on Saturday denied a report by Arrai TV that some NATO troops had been captured by Gaddafi loyalists.

Western special forces are known to have been in Libya and to have liaised with anti-Gaddafi officials during the conflict. Private security firms have also been helping anti-Gaddafi forces, according to Western media reports.

Special mercenary forces seem to be needed in Libya because of the incompetence of the so-called rebels that are fighting against Gaddafi. There is some suspicion that special mercenary forces may have played a significant role in the surprising fall of Tripoli.

Whenever rebel forces try to do something on their own, the results often seem ineffective. Recent attacks on Gaddafi strongholds in Bani Walid and Sirte have ended in chaotic failure, with rebel forces retreating in disarray. In the aftermath came finger pointing. The rebels are anything but a united group.

NTC fighters said they had planned for tanks and pickup trucks with anti-aircraft guns and rocket launchers to lead Sunday's attack, but foot soldiers had piled in first. "There is a lack of organisation so far. Infantry men are running in all directions," said Zakaria Tuham, a senior fighter with a Tripoli-based unit.

NATO planes are apparently bombing both Bani Walid and Sirte. It is not easy to see a way out for Gaddafi. The same confluence of forces that removed him from Tripoli are at work again. This may include an effective mercenary presence.

The use of mercenaries, however effective, may be seen as disturbing within the larger perspective of the war's prosecution. Like other current wars in Iraq, Somalia and Yemen, the Libyan war has proceeded in an irregular way and without the full endorsement of Western citizens. The use of mercenaries is a further indication of how far these wars are from being in any sense "lawful" or fully backed by the countries in whose name they are being fought.

Supposedly, the action in Libya was taken to protect citizens from Gaddafi's own depredations. But at least 30,000-50,000 lives have been lost in the fighting, according to recent estimates. The violence has escalated significantly since NATO began "protecting" Libya from its leader.

If the action against Gaddafi was lawfully questionable, the use of mercenaries is more so. Not only is the war itself of doubtful legality, its progress is being supported by forces that apparently share no direct leadership with the rebels who are supposedly doing the fighting. The war, then, is being prosecuted in ways that are not legal and by mysterious military forces whose presence is not explainable.

Great empires often turn to mercenaries to fulfill their military needs. But mercenaries are a sign of weakness, not strength. Their presence indicates that those prosecuting a war do not have the resources to do so legitimately. It means the citizens in whose name the war is being fought are not sufficiently involved in the matter to support it.

It also means that the elites running the war are using extra-curricular means to prosecute it – and these methodologies may eventually be seen as questionable or even abusive. The rebels doing the high-profile fighting are said to have ties to the very jihadists that Western governments have supposedly spent trillions trying to eradicate. And the rebels themselves have issued statements that could be deemed hostile to the Western interests that have supported this war.

As a result, there have been reports that NATO and mercenary troops are actively visiting atrocities on Libyan civilians in order to blame them on the rebels – thus using the threat of international justice to blackmail rebel leaders into going along with Western agendas.

None of this can be confirmed, of course. But Western and NATO behavior has been so questionable in Libya, so far out-of-bounds, in fact, and the apparent use of mercenaries so obvious that it is easy for many who dislike these military actions to attribute any manner of deceit to Western leaders and their apparent secret forces.

The use of mercenaries has occurred not just in Libya but extensively in Iraq and likely in Afghanistan as well. It is yet another unfortunate ramification of America's and NATO's military over-reach in an era wherein the West has suddenly, once again, begun to sponsor overt warfare throughout the world.

Such mercenary power truly makes government unaccountable to the people it is supposed to serve. And the use of mercenaries gives rise to bigger questions as well. If these mysterious troops can be used in foreign wars, what stops those who are funding them from using such shadowy forces to enforce unpopular agendas at home?

After Thoughts

The use of such forces raises uncomfortable questions; unfortunately, Western mainstream media, and American media in particular, have not reported on this growing trend or the evident danger it represents.