Bill O'Reilly figured out the solution to the Middle East's ISIS problem, and it doesn't involve American troops on the ground or in the skies above Iraq and Syria. O'Reilly's solution might as well be the A-Team -- bayonet-charging into Raqqa aboard a herd of screeching velociraptors, it's just that ridiculous. Briefly put, Bill O'Reilly wants to hire and train 25,000 elite mercenaries to scare the piss out of ISIS, and he's not only absolutely positive this will work, but he's certain that this is exactly what will happen.
"It’s going to happen. This anti-terror army is going to happen," he said Tuesday morning on CBS, just 12 hours or so after pitching the far-fetched concept during the opening segment of his Monday night edition of The O'Reilly Factor. Here's his scheme:
We need ground forces. However, the American people, perhaps rightly so, don't want to send any more of our troops into these chaotic countries. What about a mercenary army, elite fighters well paid, well trained to defeat terrorists all over the world? Here's how it will work. Fighters recruited by America and trained in the U.S.A. by our Special Forces. U.S. Army rules of engagement would be followed, strict discipline formed by the Geneva Convention. America would be selecting who makes the cut and how they are deployed with an eye on a 25,000 person force. American and NATO officers would lead the mercenary army and the U.S.A. would also provide logistical support, each soldier would sign a contract, three year commitment and again they would be highly paid.
Not only is this proposal absurd to anyone with a functioning intellect, but as my liberal (small "l") interventionist friend Professor Tom Nichols, Ph.D. from the Naval War College told O'Reilly to his face during the segment, it's highly immoral, "Well, Bill, I understand your frustration. I really do. But this is a terrible idea, a terrible idea not just as a practical matter but a moral matter. It’s a morally corrosive idea to try to outsource our national security. This is something Americans are going to have to deal for themselves. We’re not going to solve this problem by creating an army of Marvel Avengers or the Guardians of the Galaxy."
We already have an elite force of well-trained, English-speaking soldiers known as the U.S. military. O'Reilly's would-be mercenaries would be attached to just as many loved-ones as our soldiers are, and if the mercenaries are killed under an American flag, their deaths will be just as mourned and just as tragic. O'Reilly said, "I have seen too many guys come back with arms and legs blown off from corrupt people in Afghanistan and Iraq," to which Tom replied, "We don't solve that problem by hiring an army of mercenaries claiming we really don't own them."
Sure, presumably many of these mercenaries will have homes and kids and mortgages, that is unless O'Reilly's priavteers would be made up of Terminator style T-1000 liquid metal dreadnauts carrying phased plasma rifles with a 20-watt range.
While I don't support sending more ground troops into the fracas, I don't see why we couldn't make sure our existing soldiers are "well paid" and equipped with whatever gear and arms this mercenary army would possess. Instead of doing that -- the logical solution -- it sounds like O'Reilly is proposing that we should just replace the American military, which is operated under the umbrella of the federal government, with a corp of private, out-sourced soldiers-for-hire likely at triple or quadruple the cost. Again, we have a standing army with an established and well-tested chain of command. Why does Bill O'Reilly think they couldn't, if deployed, do the job?
He clearly thinks his mercenary army can achieve something that our actual non-science-fiction soldiers are incapable of, emphasizing that, "This force...would strike fear into every terrorist in the world because they never know when the knock on the door is coming." Um, why? And how would O'Reilly's flying monkeys achieve this above and beyond the ability of the most powerful military in the history of civilization? Would they wear scary masks? Would they blare Gwar music? He didn't say. He just made a fist into the camera. Well, in that case.
By the way, one of Tom's pet topics is the "death of expertise," so he probably got a chuckle out of O'Reilly, whose ghost-written most- if not all of his "Killing Everyone" pseudo-history volumes, lecturing Tom about military history, "Surely you know in every single war america has ever fought we have had mercenaries under our command. Every one." Tom calmly hit back, "Never to do the bulk of our fighting." Yeah, but fists! And raptors!
During the Iraq War, the Bush administration experimented with using private contractors as soldiers, and as we've read in the horror-stories wrought by Blackwater (now "Xe") and others, it was a failed experiment. And now O'Reilly wants to try the same thing but on a larger scale. Eliminating a government-operated military in lieu of a private, for-profit band of mercenaries adds an entirely new layer of awfulness and the very real potential for long-term tragedies the likes of which we can scarcely predict.