The people who build nations sure have come in different shades. While some have been warm-hearted diplomats—others have been far less socially acceptable. In times of war, nations have granted certain powers to breeds of its own citizenry. An empowering that would never be allowed under peaceful circumstances. Russia, in WWII, for example, emptied their prisons to beef up a frontline against zee Germans. Going further back, several hundred years ago, swarming bands of rugged thieves were sanctioned to seek out, plunder and/or destroy the ships and cities of other countries.
Has the Red, White & Blue ever practiced similar policies? Well, with consideration to these modern times, anyone who recruited from 2002 to 2006 will attest—many a ruffian swung down from a mast and landed in a military uniform.
The concept is simple: at crucial moments, waive certain men due to the need for man-power. From this idea; DUIs, smoking weed, shop-lifting, and occasionally even more exotic activities such as a genuine GTA, are all forgiven—as long as they can fall in line, shoot decent, and follow the MRE trash on entry-level land navigation courses. It serves a purpose, no doubt. But this has only fleshed out the cannon fodder that inevitably comes whenever a drum is beat. Militaries are full of them, as are cemeteries and VA waiting rooms. Who are far more interesting rather, is another group who join; more pirate-like, if viewed from the appropriate angle.
There are those who gleefully capitalize on their nation being at war. Make no mistake about it. But exactly who they are may surprise some, and how they capitalize would likely stun Middle America.
War profiteering is almost always attributed to secretive huddles of old white men. One owns a company that has a contract with DOD, one is a politician, etc., etc., But a group rarely mentioned is the actual men—boots on the ground—profiting from the call-to-arms.
Military, yeah you make a little money in a combat zone; contractor—you definitely make more, but finding someone who joined an actual warfighting unit for the paycheck would be a lesson in futility. Money is, arguably, never the primary incentive in which the opportunistic warfighter hopes to flourish, and anyone who has been one, is one, or even moved into contracting, is usually inclined to agree—one flourishes from the experiences themselves.
It’s no secret that the hyper-moralists who have their death-grip on the American steering-wheel look down upon, and occasionally fear, the acts that require all the waivers. What is rather fascinating though, is this other category, these war-profiteers—the same men the upstanding, ethical citizens pack the mini-van to take the family to unknowingly see naive caricatures of them on the silver screen, or buy their plump children video games loosely named after these men’s units and occupations—possess characteristics and intentions so brazen, so politically incorrect, and borderline sociopathic that if the flag-waving, taxpayers genuinely fully grasped it, they would slam shut their front door, frantically hurdle the coffee table (and the eight year old playing Call of Duty), and ensure that the back door was secure as well.
What was the difference between the Pirate and the Privateer? The sanctioning from a government, that’s about it really. In another time, Privateers sailed off to seize the ships of other nations. The home government got its cut, and the competing country was impeded in its advancement. In short, privateers, pirates, whatever—helped build their parent nation.
The GWOT profiteer wanted, and wants, to do certain things, and to live a certain way. This includes, but is not limited to; see the world, forge the body into iron, and shoot a mofo in the face—a pirate’s life, and said life was conveniently facilitated by the needs of their country. Savage symbiosis at its grandest.
But this article is not out to strip the hot-blooded men of the GWOT (or any generation) of their virtue, in fact—quite the opposite.
Modern society has insulated its denizens in stability and security. There is not a need that hasn’t been met, and at the very minimum—addressed. In comparison to the third world countries, developing countries, and so forth—we have got it damn easy. Children with smart phones, your lap top with retinal recognition, the colonic center down the road, just in case wiping just doesn’t do it for you anymore—all as frequent and accessible as a Starbucks gift card. But, for some, there is something that can be smothering about all of this. One must stay in that job to afford that car, to get to work, to afford that mortgage, of that home, to later sit inside it, and accept your path has been thoroughly laid out before you. One must not deviate—one must play by the rules. For if not, the cushy tranquility of these social norms will quickly and coldly cast you down into the bilge of utter disenfranchisement.
It is safe to stay within the lateral limits of social norms. It is dangerous to operate outside of them.
The decision to circumvent social norms as a means to sate desires came with a very heavy price. To forego many of society’s comfort is to also give up much of society’s protection. There were no IEDs waiting at the office job, and no incoming RPGs in the cookie-cutter suburbs. It is a thing that many simply can’t wrap their head around; the predictable comfort was more a threat to us, in some subtle way, unseen and unfelt by those content with the 9 to 5. How many others deep down wanted to do those things; ride on the wind like wolves, become brothers with a few other like-minded rogues, create bonds that are unbreakable, even in death? What stopped these clandestine admirers was, arguably, the thought of the repercussions: Maimed by a shape charge, your comrade’s head being emptied in front of you by a 7.62, coming home labeled a war-monger, misguided, or just being a traumatized invalid.
Stepping outside of the status quo, at the expense of many compassions, comes a few particular virtues, courage namely—and likely at the pirate’s helm.