Why Blackwater cannot be the future of U.S. warfare

Can 6,500 mercenaries "fix" Afghanistan? The U.S. is resurrecting privatized warfare.

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.

  • The West has stopped winning wars because it still operates on WWII strategies, says Sean McFate. Poor strategy results in so-called 'forever wars'.
  • To end the nearly 20-year-long war in Afghanistan, the U.S. is considering replacing all U.S. troops with Blackwater mercenaries.
  • Why is that so dangerous? Because this is what the future looks like when you resurrect privatized warfare.

Mini-brains may already be sentient and suffering, scientists warn

To prevent torturous experiments on organoids, some are calling for clearer definitions of consciousness.

Credit: M. Lancaster/MRC-LMB
Surprising Science
  • Mini-brains (also called organoids) are tiny lumps of tissue capable of generating rudimentary neural activity.
  • Neuroscientists use mini-brains to conduct research and experiments that help them learn about the brain.
  • As scientists generate increasingly complex mini-brains, however, some are concerned they might be experiencing pain.
Keep reading Show less

Men with psychopathic traits are more desirable to women, Canadian researchers say

The results have startling implications about the evolution of psychopathy in humans.

Image source: Lions Gate Films
Sex & Relationships
  • The researchers asked about 50 male university students to participate in a mock dating scenario.
  • Men with more psychopathic traits were seen as significantly more desirable by women who watched videos of the encounters.
  • Psychopathic traits may help men to mimic the qualities women are looking for, but it's a short-term strategy that comes at a cost.
Keep reading Show less

Conscious machines: How will we test artificial intelligence for feeling?

A review of the multifaceted questions we'll ask to determine whether robots have a felt quality of experience — an "inner feel."

Videos
  • The reason we entertain thought experiments such as reincarnation and an afterlife is because we're sentient beings. These concepts are innate to our experiences as conscious human beings.
  • The ACT test probes A.I. to examines whether it can grasp these questions — i.e., the mind existing separately from the body, or the system without the computer. If so, then there's reason to believe it's a conscious being.
  • For machines to develop consciousness, they will need to have the right architectural features. For instance, for humans we possess a working memory, attention, and brain stems — all of which serve as the neural basis of our conscious experience. If there is a machine analog to these things, then it may suggest that the machines are conscious as well.
Keep reading Show less