Well It Works For The French Foreign Legion
December 26, 2006 9:50 AM   Subscribe

NewsFilter: War in Iraq taxing the military? Why not just replace our soldiers with foreigners?
posted by sourbrew (48 comments total)
Does this mean we have to tear down that multi-million dollar fence we just built across the Mexican border?

No papers? Off to Iraq with you. What, you want a lawyer? Ha!
posted by DesbaratsDays at 9:59 AM on December 26, 2006

From the Daily Show.
posted by luftmensch at 10:00 AM on December 26, 2006

Imagine their face when they come back and ask

Where is my citizenship ?

Sorry, the contract said "if we win the war" ..but there was no war, so there was nothing to be won :)..or the war against terrorism, which is endless ! Too bad ! Sucks to be you ! HAHA !

kind of reminds me of Startship troopers
posted by elpapacito at 10:06 AM on December 26, 2006

I hear they're letting Gauls and Germans into the Legion now.
posted by Shanachie at 10:08 AM on December 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

Apparently no one at the Heritage Foundation, the PNAC or any of the administration's other ideological flunkies are at all familiar with the history of the decline of the Roman Empire.

Or, at least they don't mind making history repeat itself.
posted by psmealey at 10:08 AM on December 26, 2006

I thought teh ghay brought down the Roman Empire?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:14 AM on December 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

Those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it.

Those who do study history are also doomed to repeat it, but at least they can be smug about the whole process.
posted by tkolar at 10:17 AM on December 26, 2006 [3 favorites]

This outsourcing shit is really getting out of hand.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:17 AM on December 26, 2006

Goddamn. Do we have no pride left? How soon before Halliburton gets to open a mercenary-staffing subsidiary? Never mind that we wouldn't need more soldiers if the ones we had weren't spread so fucking thin.

Our farm-it-out mentality is killing this country; it's producing the uber-rich and the chattel classes. Our government is so busy fellating the almighty corporation it's a wonder anything is working. Workers? Fuck 'em. Unions? Fuck 'em. Health care reform? Universal insurance? School funding? Accountable elections? Fuck them, too.

But hiring contractors and mercenaries (not just because they can do things that our troops can't do, legally)? Helping companies offshore jobs? Giving tax breaks to the ultra rich? Legislating labor unions out of existence? Now those are some things we can get behind.

Our system is horribly, horribly broken. Maybe we can hire somebody to fix it.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:21 AM on December 26, 2006

related: we had a sad milestone there over Xmas: Military Deaths in Iraq Exceed 9 / 11 Toll

We know the administration doesn't care about the troops. We know they don't care who dies there. Recruiting has collapsed, and they don't have more bodies to send. (They're reactivating and testing Selective Service too)

...I'd rather explain a change of position any day than look a parent in the eye and tell them that their son or daughter had to die so that a broken policy could live. ...
posted by amberglow at 10:22 AM on December 26, 2006

Regarding the US Civil War and immigration...
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:40 AM on December 26, 2006

I have for about ten years tought that it made sense to have an American Foreign Legion. Maybe it brought about the demise of the Roman Empire, but the French only faced a coup from their legion once (during the Algerian crisis).

It's so much more expedient to send someone else's sons and daughters to die in foreign lands...
posted by Harald74 at 10:41 AM on December 26, 2006

In Bosnia I recall we were hiring locals to do everything non-military on the bases. Some, I think, even did some basic security stuff. It dawned on me we could just hire one half of the country to watch the other, and leave.
posted by atchafalaya at 10:51 AM on December 26, 2006

Foreign mercenaries are just temporary stopgaps until robot production can be ramped up.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:53 AM on December 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

Edward Gibbon's theory was foreign troops combined with an upsurge in Christian fundamentalism, and a decline in civic duty and pride.
posted by stbalbach at 11:04 AM on December 26, 2006

This is a self-link, but while we're on the topic -- you might want to read this as well.
posted by Heminator at 11:04 AM on December 26, 2006

and related to Heminator's link--we apparently have 100,000 contractors there.
posted by amberglow at 11:08 AM on December 26, 2006


I live in Blackwater's backyard. No one is quite sure what they do or how they operate; they certainly don't go out of their way to explain themselves.

(Largely unnacountable) armed men employed (c)overtly by our government using our tax dollars with little or no explanation is kind of the antithesis of a free and open society, don't you think?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:17 AM on December 26, 2006

They wouldn't be mercinaries if the immediately got citizenship.
posted by j-urb at 11:24 AM on December 26, 2006

they wouldn't get it until they got home (either dead or alive)
posted by amberglow at 11:45 AM on December 26, 2006

I see nothing wrong with using merenaries to fight our warsw" since we are now using citizens to fight somebody else's war. Heck, we use Haliburton and civilian contractors in Iraq, why not privatize the whole thing, the way captialism works at its most glorious. No G.I. Bill. No draft. No gay issues to worry over!
Competitive but rigged bidding...if they lose, we can blame Them and not American military. Our troops are too busy in some 750 bnases world-wide to bother getting shot at.
posted by Postroad at 12:15 PM on December 26, 2006

We should've done this five years ago. The Romans knew how to weaponize conquered populations and we should follow their example. We already have military bases all over the world and there's vast amounts of empty land on the country's interior where veterans could be dumped. Such colonial armies would solve many, many problems. We'd no longer need to endure the stupidity of overpaying private contractors. Armies of locals would also make the army much, much, much more effective when dealing with local populations and their existence would be a potent foreign policy weapon in itself. It'd also solve that nasty problem of dead Americans. This is the best way for Bush to remake the Middle East and expand the military with a single stone.

Really outright colonialization and conquest is probably the best way forwards at this point. If Iraq and Afghanistan has taught us anything it's that local populations cannot be trusted to govern themselves. The Iraqi army should be incorporated wholesale into the US Army, the Iraqi government should be shutdown and replaced with a proper colonial governor, Iraq should be given the same status as Washington DC with supreme authority handed over to Congress and the Iraqi citizens should be granted (limited) Constitutional rights as subjects of the American Empire.
posted by nixerman at 12:43 PM on December 26, 2006

Yes, Benny. I agree there are some HUGE problems with military contractors, many of which I mentioned in the article. My father's a retired Marine Col. and and he doesn't even believe the mess halls should be be privatized let alone the actual soldiering. But much of the journalism about contractors has gone straight to the criticism with little discussion of what they actually do. Hard as it may seem, I tried to avoid excessive sermonizing while bringing problems to light. Aside from being good journalism, I find that such an approach can advance debate more effectively. The problem with contracting out to Private Military Companies isn't so much that people aren't aware of the problems -- but that they aren't aware they even exist.

If any MeFites care, *COUGH* [plug] *cough* I'll be on C-Span's Washington Journal tomorrow morning around 9 EST discussing the article.
posted by Heminator at 12:47 PM on December 26, 2006

nixerman wrote...
Really outright colonialization and conquest is probably the best way forwards at this point.

I dunno. I think it would create problems internally if Americans actually realized that they are at the heart of an empire, and in any case I don't think there's any need to hurry up. I think the slow military expansion route has worked pretty well so far, and it's only Bush's attempt to speed it up that has caused problems.

Given our overall naval strength and the international acceptance of US authority on the sea lanes, we now have military control over more than 80% of the planet and significant influence over virtually all of the world's commerce. We've accrued that slowly over the last 50 years or so. No need to start rushing now.
posted by tkolar at 1:03 PM on December 26, 2006

Tkolar...therwe remains some 20% to get control over...we have done a good job but why stop short of 100 percent?
posted by Postroad at 1:48 PM on December 26, 2006

Iraq-related: what happens to all our hardware--the whole military, really--when there's no more oil?
posted by amberglow at 2:14 PM on December 26, 2006

Well, when fighting the Cold War in Latin America after Vietnam, the strategy shifted away from dealing with US casualties by supporting proxy armies in client states with military aid. That way you could make war without bodybags on the evening news each night.

But this trick can't work in the Middle East, where the Islamacists don't make it so easy. You can't round up imams and take out mosques like you could just grab union leaders and school teachers in El Salvador.

So though it's a stretch it's really "logical" to avert American casualties by using non-citizens as soldiers. An American Foreign Legion sound about right at this point. Yikes.
posted by crowman at 2:33 PM on December 26, 2006

Holy crap, amberglow. That's a scam of astounding audacity.
posted by EarBucket at 2:41 PM on December 26, 2006

Heminator: While preparing your article on Blackwater, didn't you bother to research the events in Najaf in early 2004? It wasn't reported on English-language news at the time, but the Spanish legionnaires (not known for being any sort of choirboys themselves) posted there at the time who had to deal with the aftermath were livid about the trigger-happiness of the "Blackwater cowboys". The whole event contributed heavily to the precipitousness of the Spanish retreat.
posted by Skeptic at 3:41 PM on December 26, 2006

Edward Gibbon's theory was foreign troops combined with an upsurge in Christian fundamentalism, and a decline in civic duty and pride.

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:36 PM on December 26, 2006

amberglow writes "Iraq-related: what happens to all our hardware--the whole military, really--when there's no more oil?"

Obvious: it turns into junk. This is why we have to conquer the world now...
posted by mullingitover at 4:42 PM on December 26, 2006

All we have to do is "Stay the course" for 20 or 30 years and then we can send in the robots.
posted by delmoi at 5:21 PM on December 26, 2006

Obvious: it turns into junk. This is why we have to conquer the world now...

'Cause everybody knows there was no war before the invention of the internal combustion engine.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:39 PM on December 26, 2006

Except for nuclear subs (and we only have a few, no?), isn't our entire military wholly dependent on gas and oil? How many more years is there of it? And i don't think the military has been at the forefront of alternative energy development or use.

We moved our bases out of Saudi Arabia, so we're permanently in Iraq--Bush or not (at least as long as there's oil).
posted by amberglow at 5:43 PM on December 26, 2006

The Triumph of Das Boot: Max Boot Gets His ‘Freedom Legion’-- ... The idea was first floated in a February, 2005 Los Angeles Times op-ed column by neoconservative Nostradamus Max Boot. Boot, a dogged proponent of American Empire who regards Rudyard Kipling as the premier foreign policy thinker of the modern age, suggested modeling the new enterprise after the French Foreign Legion...
posted by amberglow at 5:54 PM on December 26, 2006

I dunno if that will work delmoi, in 20 or 30 years the GELF insurgency might be prepared to mount a pretty strong defense against our robot assault teams.

12 foot long armored, acid spitting, chameleonic killing machines? It's gonna get messy.
posted by quin at 6:03 PM on December 26, 2006

and here's to you, fuzzy-wuzzy
at your home in the sudan
you're a poor benighted heathen
but a first-class fighting man...
posted by bruce at 6:41 PM on December 26, 2006

Secret Burials in the Desert
posted by hortense at 6:43 PM on December 26, 2006

Except for nuclear subs (and we only have a few, no?), isn't our entire military wholly dependent on gas and oil?

Not the infantry. Feet and bullets work just fine without oil.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:47 PM on December 26, 2006

The infantry that worked "just fine" without oil previously had mules to carry their supplies (even into WW1).
posted by rfs at 8:11 PM on December 26, 2006

Need more Hessians.
posted by bardic at 8:45 PM on December 26, 2006


What would happen to the US, or the western world at large for that matter, if China simply shut up shop and refused to trade? I imagine that the economic impact would pretty much bankrupt most nations as the flow of low priced goods that we are used to simply dries up.

At that point would any amount of military force be able to put things right? I doubt it. I also believe that the totalitarian regime in China would be willing to deal with the domestic problems that would be caused by a sudden halt in production.

But the interesting thing to think about is simply how would first world economies cope?

posted by bangalla at 10:58 PM on December 26, 2006

bangalla, did you ever watch the TV show Dark Angel? You know, the one with Jessica Alba? Yeah, it would be kinda like that, minus the hot chicks and clever banter.

It would be really bad all around.
posted by quin at 11:17 PM on December 26, 2006

posted by Faint of Butt at 8:06 AM on December 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

I know the U.S. has done this before, but it Feels Like the First Time. And it sounds to me like an Agent Provocateur got some Inside Information and is playing Head Games the Unusual Heat of which is giving us Double Vision. You’d have to be Cold as Ice to send Foreigners a Long, Long Way From Home instead of some Dirty White Boy. I’m not surprised the Reaction to this Action is getting people Hot Blooded, the situation is Urgent (I wonder what kind of hero could save us?)

“who had to deal with the aftermath were livid about the trigger-happiness of the "Blackwater cowboys"”

yeah, their top kick is a SEAL, and that’s the M.O. You look like a lot bigger force if you use more ammo. And Mercs have no back up, so there are practical sides for them (beyond simply calling them cowboys, tho there is that for someone who would choose a life in the combat zone). Why command wouldn’t forsee that having to play out that way I dunno. I suspect they don’t care.
(old joke on the Differential Theory of Special Operations Forces: Snake Model -
Paratrooper: Lands. Kills snake. Complains about dirty nasty rear echelon legs.
Armor: Runs over snake, giggles, looks for more snakes.
Infantry: "Ugh! Me see snake. Me like snake. Ouch! Me no like snake." Kills snake. Villified in the snake press.
Army Aviation: Has GPS grid to snake. Can’t find snake. Back to base for crew rest and the club and some sort of drink called "The Snake"
Ranger: Eats snake. Assaults the snake's home and secures it for use by friendly snakes.
SEAL: Expends all ammunition, several grenades and calls for naval gunfire in a failed attempt to kill the snake. Kills snake in brilliant improvised plan on retreat. Reprimanded by command upon return for killing snake in unauthorized manner. Snake sends political allies to sabotage career.
Artillery: Kills snake, but in the process kills several hundred civilians with a massive TOT with three FA BDEs in support. Mission is considered a success and all participants are awarded Silver Stars. (Cooks, Mechanics, Legal Clerks etc.) Press blames infantry.
Marine Recon: Follows the snake and gets lost. Finds other snakes, kills them.
Sapper: Builds minefields, anti-snake ditches, puts up snake wire, snake obstacles, anti-snake vehicle barriers. Waits to set off booby traps for snake.
Sniper: “Snakes?...I can’t tell you about snakes.” Cleans weapon.
Combat Controller: Guides the snake elsewhere.
Air Force: Saturation bombs the entire area. Snake who?
Pararescue: Wounds the snake in first encounter, then feverishly works to save the snake's life.
Special Forces: Makes contact with the snake, builds rapport, wins its heart and mind, then trains it to kill other snakes.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:16 PM on December 27, 2006

Did an American fire on Iraqis unprovoked?
U.S. security contractors allege their supervisor was ‘out of control’
(about Triple Canopy, a subcontractor under KBR/Halliburton, in Baghdad)
posted by amberglow at 7:56 AM on December 28, 2006

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