Mercenaries Are Not the Answer. (Letters to the Editor)

Harvard International Review, Fall 2002 | Go to article overview

Mercenaries Are Not the Answer. (Letters to the Editor)


I am writing in response to Sean Creehan's article "Soldiers of Fortune 500" (HIR, Winter 2002), in which mercenaries are portrayed as an acceptable means of establishing security in nations facing insurgencies. Mr. Creehan points to Sierra Leone as an example of a situation in which mercenaries restored order and brought peace and claims that their removal brought about a collapse of stability that could have been prevented by allowing them to remain.

First, I am rather surprised that Mr. Creehan would choose Sierra Leone as a case upon which to base his argument. If anything, I should think Sierra Leone would be a clear example of the destabilizing influence and misery brought on by the introduction of mercenary forces into internal conflicts and of the long-term consequences of this interference. In Sierra Leone, a weak and widely discredited government fought a decade-long and unimaginably brutal war against the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a rebel group with ambiguous ideological roots and a record of arbitrary and indiscriminate executions, mass rape, and mutilations. While neither side can claim innocence or ignorance with respect to human rights abuses, most of the atrocities have been linked to the RUF. Both sides paint the war in vague ideological terms, but the primary battle is for control of Sierra Leone's vast mineral resources, especially its diamond mines. Proceeds from the sale of diamonds have bankrolled the war for both sides despite an official embargo on these diamonds by the international community. Mr. Creehan correctly points out that the introduction of mercenaries on the side of the government allowed the temporary suppression of the rebels and for a time brought some degree of stability. However, as he also notes, on the two occasions the mercenaries were removed from the conflict, the rebel threat soon re-emerged.

This gets to the heart of the problem for a large number of African governments. It is not purely a lack of military force that makes African governments like that of Sierra Leone vulnerable to insurgency and rebellion, but rather a lack of perceived legitimacy. When governments like that of Sierra Leone are perceived to be weak, corrupt, and unrepresentative of the population, a vacuum of authority is created into which rebel groups and even neighboring nations can step. A government can hire mercenaries in an attempt to suppress rebels in the short run, but not only does this not correct its crisis of legitimacy, it in fact further reduces its perceived and actual authority. The government is rightfully perceived as too weak to support itself without the external aid of mercenary forces and becomes heavily reliant upon these forces to sustain itself. It will stay in power, at least nominally, as long as it can continue payments to the mercenaries, but should financial crisis or external pressure cause the p ayments to the mercenaries to dry up, these outside forces will leave and the government will fall. This reliance further reinforces the weakness of the government, as it removes both the funds and the incentive to develop lasting national institutions. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Mercenaries Are Not the Answer. (Letters to the Editor)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.