I’ve finally got around to reading Craig Murray’s The Catholic Orangemen of Togo. Brief book review: it’s fucking excellent; buy it; read it.
However, I don’t quite understand Craig’s, and indeed many other people’s, obsession with ‘mercenaries’. For example:
For me, the really scary thing about [a video where private security company Aegis shot a civilian car in Iraq that drove through a checkpoint] is that it was the subject of a formal United States Army enquiry, which says that the incidents shown were “within standard operating procedures”, as laid down by the US Army, which in effect give Aegis the right to shoot up any car approaching them, in case it is a car bomb.
Aegis were working for the US Army. If Aegis hadn’t been there, then Yank soldiers would have be there, operating to the same rulebook and shooting the same poor buggers who missed the checkpoint. It doesn’t matter in the fucking slightest whether the chaps with guns shooting cars are scared American 21-year-olds or skint, retired-vet South African 45-year-olds, except to the extent that scared troops are more prone to make terrible mistakes than less-scared troops.
The problem is the fucking rulebook that says you can shoot a carload of civilians on suspicion – and suggesting the problem is down to the contractors who do the same bloody thing as the real army is a meaningless cop-out.