Bill O’Reilly’s Mercenary Army

— This article by Jerry Cates, first published on  3 October 2014, was last revised on 12 December 2015. © Govinthenews Vol. 5:10(1).

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O’Reilly’s Push for Creation of a Mercenary Army to fight Terrorism

On “CBS This Morning,” while promoting his new book, “Killing Patton,” Bill O’Reilly launched into a spirited exposition of his views regarding the importance of creating a mercenary army to fight worldwide terrorism for us.

We would select them, special forces would train them — (a) 25,000-man force to be deployed to fight on the ground against worldwide terrorism. Not just ISIS,” he said.

It would be a permanent force, based on a NATO coalition, and — in his opinion — would take the politics out of worldwide terrorism.

What’s killing the west now in this fight on terror, and Putin as well, is the politics of it. (We c)an’t get anything done quickly, can’t mobilize fast. So, it’s going to happen. This anti-terror army is going to happen,” O’Reilly added with his usual confident air.

This is not a brand-new O’Reilly Idea. He’s been pushing the notion of creating a mercenary army to fight our wars on terrorism for some time now on his Fox-News talk show, “The O’Reilly Factor.” In his view a mercenary army is, without question, the best way to fight terrorism.

And, as usual, he’s both right and wrong.

He’s right when he says anti-terror mercenary armies will definitely come into existence. He’s more than right, in fact, because mercenary armies already exist, throughout the world, and many are fighting terrorism at this very moment, in some fashion or another.

But he’s dead wrong in believing that mercenary armies are a good idea. The notion that a mercenary army would be the best way to fight terrorism is absurd. Before addressing my argument on that point, though, a definition of the term is in order. Let’s go to the Concise Encyclopedia for that:

Mercenary: Noun. Hired professional soldier who fights for any state or nation without regard to political principles. From the earliest days of organized warfare, governments supplemented their military forces with mercenaries. After the Hundred Years’ War (1337–1453), Swiss soldiers were hired out all over Europe by their own cantonal governments and won a high reputation. Rulers of the German state of Hesse also hired out their soldiers, and Hessian troops fought for the British in the American Revolution. Source: Concise Encyclopedia.

History is riddled with examples of mercenaries employed to fight wars waged to achieve specific objectives. The above quote shows that such practices often produce positive results, though in the last example provided, the 30,000 Hessian troops employed by the British to fight American colonists led to a less-than-satisfactory outcome for the British throne.

How Waging War Measures a Nation’s Integrity

The reasons why mercenary armies are a bad idea transcend war, and translate into the very structure of the nation itself. The way a nation wages war determines the kind of citizens it develops, and the kind of leadership that mans its helms, at every level of government.

Nations that go to war on a whim, for less than honorable purposes, or for reasons that the citizenry does not understand, cannot expect their citizenry to respond with favor. Such nations are forced to hire mercenaries to fight for them. Their generals and governmental leaders will, by necessity, be men and women skilled in deception and deceit. Such leaders erect a façade of presumed greatness that is hollow; narcissism is honored above humility; the leaders are inclined to trust their own visions above those of the nation and their advisers, if they have advisers at all.

If, on the other hand, a nation makes it a prerequisite for waging war that the favor of the citizenry must first be won over, enabling the prosecution of that war with the nation’s own blood and treasure, only wars of honor and purpose will be waged. Its generals and governmental leaders will be men and women of honor and integrity, because the citizenry will not rally behind anything less. Their decisions will be based on the good of the nation and of mankind in general, and not on lesser grounds. They will be humble servants of the nation and its people, not star-struck narcissists overwhelmed by false feelings of importance. They will, by necessity, surround themselves with educated and intelligent advisers and consultants whose views are counted in every important decision they make. Their decisions will be made with due diligence and care, without a trace of conflict of interest. And that nation will be blessed.

Which of these two kinds of nations should America be? I believe that if we choose the latter kind we can expect to last. Otherwise our future is doomed.

Real, honest people — people worthy of the nation and freedom they seek to protect — fight their own battles. Real people shed their own blood on the battlefield. And real people win. That’s the way it has always been, and always will be. Only fools think otherwise.

Where I’m Coming From…

Some people are born brave, able from the cradle to stand up for themselves and fight back when another person picks a fight with them. Others, and possibly most of us, either go through life unable to fight back when under attack. Some have to learn the hard way how to put cowardice behind and bravely stand for what’s right when the need arises. I am a member of the last group. Thankfully I eventually learned, some 56 years ago, to be brave when bravery is needed. It was good for me to transition from cowardice to bravery, because that transition made an indelible impression on my basic constitution. Those who are born brave never know how cowards think. Often those who are born brave grow into bullies who push others around.

As a kid, I was an out-and-out coward. It wasn’t until my last two years of high school that I developed, purely by accident, the spine necessary to take up for myself. All the logic my father, my older brother (who was born brave, and whose bravery is chronicled in his book, Honor Denied), and others lavished on me — explaining why it is so important for a man to stand up and defend himself — couldn’t make me fight when one of my peers decided to give me a good thrashing. As a result I was bullied and shamed time and time again on the playground. Then, one day, I finally had enough.

In all honesty, what really happened was that I decided to fight back “a little.” Just a little, because I was as worried about hurting my opponent as anything else. Yes, my cowardice stemmed from two fears, first that of getting hurt, and second — but to my mind just as important — that of hurting the person who was beating up on me. I was against fighting period. Nobody should pound anybody else, I reasoned, but if I pounded them back I’d only be making things worse by adding pounding on top of pounding. That’s just the way my brain saw it in those days. But on that auspicious day, when I did fight back a little, fortune smiled and two things happened: first, the other guy got a bloody nose, and second, his reaction caused me to see what defending yourself is all about. It isn’t what I thought it was at all.

I need to add one little note, too, precisely at this place in the story. Although I was against fighting, I had several good friends who willingly took up for me. Chester was the best, despite being much shorter than I. Nobody messed with Chester because they knew he would immediately fight back. When he was around nobody picked on me. But Chester wasn’t always around, and this was one of those days.

My adversary and I were rolling around on the floor of the boy’s bathroom. I was trying to hold his arms, so he couldn’t launch a good punch. In the process I unintentionally banged his head against the wall, smashing his nose. Immediately bright red blood spurted on me and down his face. At the sight of his own blood tears welled up in his eyes and he broke off the fight. Then he accused me, in front of the gathered throng, of taking his “playful jousting” too seriously. Wow! He actually called me a bully!

He’d picked a fight, and had expected me to take it without fighting back. Now his blood was not only on my shirt, but was running out of his nostrils. To him and those in attendance, it appeared that I’d whipped the biggest, baddest kid in my class. I’ll never forget the look of fear and respect, in his eyes and in the eyes of my fellow classmates. It woke me up. Suddenly I realized that defending yourself against an aggressor is the only way to get them to stop. Refusing to fight back, or allowing others to take up for you because you won’t take up for yourself, only makes them torment you more, especially when your stand-in isn’t around.

From that day forward, Chester was off the hook, at least for me. I wasn’t afraid of anybody, and I certainly didn’t need anybody to take up for me. I knew I posed no danger to anyone who didn’t intend to harm me, but it was a good feeling to know that others were, for once in my life, afraid to pick a fight with me because they knew I would take up for myself. It was, for me, an amazing turnaround…

Later, as a USAF enlisted serviceman, serving in combat in Vietnam, I believed that it was crucial that I and my fellow service members perform our roles in service to our nation in order to keep America free and strong. I still believe that today. As a father of two sons, one of whom served in the U.S. Navy aboard the U.S.S. Barry during the Gulf War, it troubled me whenever he was deployed to a dangerous part of the Persian Gulf. That feeling, however, was surpassed by the pride I felt in his devotion to duty. Today, as a grandfather with four grandchildren that I adore and love more than life itself, it worries me that someday they might be called to duty in America’s armed forces, defending their country. Still — as with my oldest son — that worry weighs less than the knowledge that, if they answer that call and serve with distinction, they and our nation will be better for it. Yes, even if — God forbid — their service requires that they make the highest sacrifice any person can make.

For this reason, it rankles when someone like Bill O’Reilly — who never served in America’s armed forces — suggests that the job of defending this country should be handed over to mercenaries. It rankles even more to read about highly-placed individuals in U.S. Government who evidently think the same way O’Reilly thinks, and use that thinking to justify pulling strings to protect their family members from having to serve in the U.S. Military or, when serving, from being assigned dangerous tasks in dangerous places. If a war is worth fighting, it is worth having our best, brightest, and most gifted citizens on the front lines.

If we cannot see clear to do that, we ought not to wage war at all.

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— Questions? Corrections? Comments? e-mail jerry.cates@govinthenews.info. You may also register, log in, and leave a detailed comment in the space provided below.

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