The ‘New’ American Mercenary: A Pocket History, by Maj. Danny Sjursen, USA (ret.)

The story concerning America’s mercenaries are like a rock in muck that nobody wants to look under for fear of what might come scuttling out. From Major Danny Sjursen at

Though the bizarre story has been subsumed by other events, last month’s aborted invasion of Venezuela should’ve hardly shocked anyone. The United States has long used mercenaries to do its bidding. They have provided Washington distance and deniability for unsavory operations. During the Cold War, the U.S. hoped this would limit domestic and international protest. Policymakers also discerned mercenary alternatives to bloody, expensive quagmires like the Vietnam or Iraq Wars. Traditionally, most of these hired guns were foreigners – ex-soldiers of declining European empires.

Much of this parallels the latest Venezuelan affair. However, American mercenaries and the system that produced them, are relatively new. The stillborn coup exposed the blurred line between what’s private and public in modern US warfare. Past and present evidence suggest the phenomenon is here to stay and set to increase.

There is now little doubt that the Trump administration had foreknowledge of the incursion. It may even have played some part. If America’s regionalhistory is any indicator, it probably did. Washington has long soughtPresident Nicolas Maduro’s overthrow, and recently put a literal bounty on his head. Furthermore, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo all but admitted some role when he announced that the US had “no direct involvement.”

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