There’s been a huge flap in the blog world over Kos’s (of The Daily Kos) lack of sympathy for the four mercenaries who were recently killed, incinerated, and dismembered in Iraq. Partly this was because they were mercenary security personnel, and Kos, who grew up in El Salvador, has no reason to think well of contract mercenaries as a class. Partly it was because five members of the regular US ground forces in Iraq were killed the same day, but got no attention paid to them. Kos is former U.S. military. It would bother him.
What I wanted to say was that I heard the news about the four mercenaries getting torched from an old friend of mine who’s former career US military himself, and has experience in field operations in areas where mercenaries are also active. My friend, who normally laments each new report of casualties in Iraq, was not all that concerned about the well-being of a bunch of contract mercenaries in Iraq. “Maybe it was retaliation for something they did,” he said, “but maybe it was random, and they’d have done the same to any foreign military coming along that stretch of road just then.” He also observed that “Contract mercenaries are the guys you use to do the stuff the regular military refuses to do,” but that the regular military gets blamed for it.
Kos and my friend have a right to their opinions. Besides, they know a lot more about this than I do.