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Sean McFate

Dr. Sean McFate is an adviser to Oxford University's Centre for Technology and Global Affairs, as well as a professor of strategy at the National Defense University and Georgetown University‚Äôs[…]

SEAN MCFATE: The United States has stopped winning wars. It has stopped winning wars since World War II. And the question is, why have we stopped winning wars? We have the best troops, we have the best equipment, we have the best technology, we have the most money. So what's the problem? But since World War II, you know, Korea is a stalemate, Vietnam went communist. There's Afghanistan, Iraq these are failures. We must be honest with ourselves, these are failures.

But this is not just a US problem. The West, quote unquote, writ large, does not know how to win wars anymore. Look at France in Indochina and Algeria; the British in Palestine and Cyprus; the Soviets in Afghanistan; Israel against Hezbollah in Lebanon. The question is, what does it mean if the West can no longer win wars? It's an obvious question, but nobody wants to ask it because the implications are too terrifying to behold. And the answer is: war has moved on. War has changed. It has new rules, and it looks nothing like World War II, which is our model, our strategic paradigm. And as long as we keep this up, we will continue to have forever wars.

One of the new rules of war is that we will see the return of mercenaries, of private force, of private warfare. You know, they say mercenary is the second oldest profession. Private war has been around for a very long time, but we've forgotten it. Mercenaries have only been sort of underground for 150 years. Now they're coming back. And most of military history is private military history. The reason it's come back is because the US resurrected it, ironically, with the Iraq and Afghan wars. The US it's ironic because it's the superpower that did this. It wasn't small states with money who needed an army that didn't have it, it was the United States of America. And the reason the US did this is because they initially, policymakers thought the Iraq war and the Afghanistan war would be very short, easy wars. And we remember Secretary Defense Rumsfeld saying that these wars would take days, weeks at most, certainly not months. Now it's nearly 20 years later, and we're still mired in these quagmires. We're still stuck in these entrenched places in South Asia and the Middle East.

One of the solutions that's being considered is replacing all American troops in Afghanistan by mercenaries. This is currently what President Trump is considering doing, led by Erik Prince. Erik Prince is the founder of Blackwater. Blackwater was a large private military company that, in 2007, massacred 17 civilians in Baghdad, and it became one of the low points of the Iraq war. He is the sister of Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education, and is using political connections for the biggest paycheck of his career. Now, this would normally be a laughable situation, right? Replacing, you know, American troops with mercenaries. What makes it even more laughable and even dangerous is that he thinks that 6,500 mercenaries can fix Afghanistan. Now, at the height of the Afghan war, there was 140,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, which couldn't do anything, really, in Afghanistan. And now, the Taliban control more of Afghanistan. So what is Erik Prince going to do with 6,500? That's a good question. What is even more dangerous, though, is what happens to war when you privatize it.