The technical term for this is ‘mercenary free company.’
I believe that this qualifies as a “Kinsley gaffe:” which is to say, a politician accidentally telling the truth. Background: this was from a press conference where the President was trying to explain why his foreign policy was such an improvement over georgewbushgeorgewbushgeorgewbush’s, despite the fact that it lacks a coherent conceptual framework, an overall philosophy, a clear set of objectives, and any sort of domestic input and/or oversight. But it has the French on-board, so that’s good! We’re much better when we permit other countries to get to move our soldiers around on the geopolitical board.
NO. REALLY. That’s what he said.
…that’s why building this international coalition has been so important because it means that the United States is not bearing all the cost. It means that we have confidence that we are not going in alone, and it is our military that is being volunteered by others to carry out missions that are important not only to us, but are important internationally.
Let me spell this out, for progressives and other national-security illiterates: the American soldier has made a frankly unique compact with the American people, historically speaking. He or she volunteers to go put herself in harm’s way for the benefit of the rest of us, and we respond by treating that service with the respect that it deserves, but has rarely gotten in the past. It is sometimes necessary that our soldiers die. It is also sometimes necessary that our soldiers die for unpleasant reasons. But they are not mercenaries, and the President of the United States is not a Renaissance Italy condottieri captain. Treating them as such – and speaking of them as such – is an insult.
Now, I am aware that sometimes the US government has to choose between two or more suboptimal solutions to a problem, and that we live in a imperfect world. So I am not opposed on general principles to securing the fuel supply of a bunch of countries that happen to be our allies, particularly if we can also in the process excise a fairly nasty regime with a history of supporting international terrorism. But if Western Europe wants to keep their Libyan oil flowing on their own terms then they can damned well raise their own troops, and/or pay for their own free companies. My country’s soldiers are not for hire.
Or, at least, they weren’t.
Moe Lane (crosspost)