Standing Armies Don’t Stand Around Very Long
are historians like Garry Wills who tell us that the whole question
of militia and standing armies isn’t relevant anymore. The Second
Amendment may have mattered in the early 19th century
when Justice Joseph Storey, who was young enough to remember the
American Revolution, called it "the very palladium of our liberties,"
but in modern warfare today things have changed. What strikes me,
however, is the continuity of such issues over a long period of
that part of the evolution of a civilization known as the Empire
phase, there is always a drift toward volunteer, professional
imperial strike forces, to replace the volunteer, defensive militia,
what might be called the Cincinnatus model, as of the early Roman
Republic. By the time depicted in the recent film Gladiator,
the large part of the Roman forces fighting the Germans would have
been themselves part of that vast immigrant horde entering the Empire,
and finding employment with the State as the most immediate way
to better themselves economically.
emperors Hadrian and Trajan were Spaniards, and later Diocletian,
who brought the final phases of state socialism to the Empire, locking
people feudal-style into a niche, had himself risen from slavery
to don the imperial purple robes. For centuries, increasing numbers
of the old Romans had been on the dole, a life featuring bread and
circuses as discussed in HJ Haskell’s The
New Deal in Old Rome (1938).
things been any different in the emerging American Empire, thought
by some historians to be subject to some mystical historical "exceptionalism"?
After the War of 1812, one of earliest wars for expansion, the standing
army found new employment by dragging the Indians west along what
became known as the "Trail of Tears."
an article in a text and trade book of some years ago, in the format
of a newspaper, News of the Nation (1975), I quoted some
of those veterans who considered it the most degrading and immoral
assignment of their careers. There was no honor in it.
in the mid-19th century, American adventurers were serving
the Chinese Empire, and Frederick Ward succeeded the British General
Charles "Chinese" Gordon in leading the "Ever-Victorious"
army against the T’ai P’ings, while Gordon met his demise at Khartoum.
the Civil War, having learned the strategy of "total war,"
the veterans of both the Confederacy and the Grand Army of the Republic,
some of them "Buffalo" soldiers, developed tactics of
"counter-insurgency" warfare against the Indians in the
Philippine Insurgency was another great training ground, as were
the interventions later taking place all over the planet, from the
Marines learning auto-gyro tactics against Sandino in Nicaragua
in the late ‘20s to the "Flying Tigers" organized to fight
the Japanese in Asia a decade later.
General Smedley Butler, one of seven Marines to win 2 Medals of
Honor in combat, discussed all of this in his controversial book,
is a Racket (1934), calling his own career that of a "gangster"
for imperialism. (See also, for example, Hans Schmidt, Maverick
Marine: General Smedley D. Butler and the Contradictions of American
Military History (1987).
in the 1930s, the American Empire had its own "loan a soldier"
program underway. Today, of course, the Pentagon talks about the
global terrorists organizing these kinds of operations!
marvelous account of this is Marine Captain John H. Craige’s Black
Bagdad (1933) recounting his "loan" to the Haitian
government as a white officer leading black troops, and which has
a wonderful description of voodoo in that country. (See also, Robert
in New Orleans (1951). Craige managed also to serve at one
time or another "on loan" in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua,
the Americans fled Saigon in 1975, many of the former army ‘copter
pilots signed on with Bell, which had secured a contract with the
Shah of Iran to build a new Persian Empire force, egged on by Richard
Nixon, who was anxious to sell him arms, and managed $9 billion
was known as the "Great Southeast Asia Floating Crap Game,"
a bevy of Vietnamese whores and their pimps, followed their American
clients to bases outside Tehran. Their drunken carousing was propaganda
for the Islamic mullahs, who in the inflation had lost their subsidy
from the Shah, and now attacked him as well as the wicked Americans.
syndicated article by Col. David Hackworth, entitled "Wanted:
Guns for Hire," amply demonstrates that the imperial war
games continue. It seems 80 American paratroopers, part of our standing
army in Macedonia "rescued" 400 members of the Kosovo
Liberation Army, the latter mostly armed with American weapons,
from the clutches of the Macedonian army. Why?
17 of their "instructors" are members of "a high
ticket Rent-a-Soldier [Gladiator?] outfit called MPRI -- Military
Professional Resources Incorporated – that operates in the shadow
of the Pentagon, and has been hired by the CIA and our State Department"
for operations in the former Yugoslavia.
is a kind of tactical, military version of the Carlyle Group, led
by former Pentagon official Frank Carlucci, employing former president
George Bush and many of Carlucci’s former Pentagon officials, contracting
for billions of $$ to advise other governments, especially among
our client states.
which is headed by former U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Carl
E. Vuono, "is filled with former U.S. Army personnel, from
generals to senior sergeants, all of whom draw handsome wages on
top of their Army retired salaries."
the early 1990s this same outfit trained soldiers in Croatia for
"Operation Storm," which resulted in the "ethnic
cleaning" of some 200,000 Serbians.
even has a web site. Check it out. It advertises: "Providing
the world the best defense, law enforcement and leadership training
– capitalizing on the experience and skills of America’s best seasoned
professionals. Integrity, ethics, professionalism, quality, and
cost competitiveness are our hallmarks."
sketches out four areas of expertise: National, International, Strategic
and Law Enforcement. Nationally, it has representation in 48 of
the 50 states, and all kinds of connections with the regular Army,
while internationally it lists "a long list of humanitarian
and peace operations around the world," including shipping
more than $900 million in donated food and medical supplies to the
newly independent states formerly part of the Soviet Union.
its Senior Leader Seminars are available abroad, and it even has
a National Seminar Series. Finally, in Law Enforcement, its Alexandria
Group offers all kinds of training, in case your local police are
not up to snuff.
potential here for humanitarian help is simply staggering. Imagine
the lives that could have been saved in Waco if MPRI had been contracted
with, instead of those less well-trained personnel at the BATF and
the FBI. And abroad, the Executive Administrative State need not
bother with the Congress, and cumbersome laws like the War Powers
Act, when a quick, clean intervention is required.
of War by the Congress? Vietnam, and other interventions have demonstrated
that is a constitutional nicety of the past, as obsolete as the
Second Amendment. Standing Army? It’s not even an issue, if you
have a standing contract force of veterans at the ready.
Hackworth observes, "While Ollie North’s Contra boys and the
mercenaries who botched up the Cuban Bay of Pigs invasion might
not have been so businesslike – or so blatant – they did establish
an unfortunate tradition of hired guns sticking our nation into
one minefield after another."
reports that dozens of his former Army pals are joining MPRI, or
other military contractors, in locations like Saudi Arabia, Taiwan,
ex-Yugoslavia, and Columbia. "We’re talking booming business
mentions that a number have rejected such offers of "a high-paying
mercenary job," or as one still-serving veteran of 3 wars said,
"A number of contactors have been pitching me to work for them
after I retire. I said no. There’s no principles, no love of country,
no honor – just MONEY. I can’t…sell my soul for a buck." And,
the Col. concludes, "There are laws on the books that prevent
American citizens from serving foreign governments, It’s about time
Congress did its duty and enforced them."
is part of a long line of American military men who have questioned
this interventionism, often late in their careers. The recent book
by General Wesley K. Clark, the former commander of the Nato forces
in the former Yugoslavia, Waging
Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat (2001),
makes it clear that this battle continues, and is raging between
groups within the Pentagon and Foggy Bottom, and between each of
those bureaucracies operating the Empire.
will it all end? History offers no sanguine lessons on halting Empire.
Despite its several historical inaccuracies, it is well to recall
that in the film, Maximus’ soldiers owed a personal loyalty to him,
and not even to the authoritarian State, while the Republic of laws
was several centuries in the past.
film opens with the launching of huge missiles by catapults, the
guided missiles of their day, and the struggles by military contractors
for supplying the army with everything from sandals to shields,
had been a great arena of political corruption since long before
even Julius Caesar. Even without a vote, women ran the political
machines, and that old reactionary Cato the Elder could bellow in
the Senate, "How is it that we Romans, who rule over all other
men, are ruled by our women?"
relax, enjoy all the sports events this season, watch them live
in some arena and on television, or take a vacation trip abroad,
safe in the knowledge that MPRI, and other such companies, stand
ready to defend our Freedom in their own inimitable humanitarian
and professional fashion, both at home and overseas. Ain’t Corporatism
Marina [send him
teaches History at Florida Atlantic University and is an Adjunct
Scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. His web site is http://www.wmarina.com
© 2001 LewRockwell.com