Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Private Armies - Who Needs Them?

It goes against the grain to be serious two days in a row, but sometimes conditions make it impossible to be otherwise. Right now the itch in a place I can't reach is caused by the private armies that have flourished in this country in recent years, especially the one known as Blackwater. Call them what you will, they are private armies. Those in them are mercenaries, soldiers of fortune, meaning they work for the highest bidder.
Such armies have been around a long time. Best known of them is the French Foreign Legion, but it is under control of the government so it isn't really private. Even so it is made up of soldiers of fortune. The British recruited such an army in the German State of Hesse during the American Revolution. But for sheer numbers, Germany during the years following the First World War leads all comers. Every organization, political or otherwise, seemed to have one. The ranks were filled with former soldiers and an assortment of malcontents.
Best known was the Sturm Abteilung - the Storm Troopers. They were closely associated with but not under the control of the small but noisy Nazi party. This rankled some in the party so an army of their own was organized and named the Schutz Staffel - SS for short. The requirements for joining were strict almost beyond belief. At the beginning and for a short time after that even a filling in a tooth was enough to disqualify a man. That didn't last for long. The SS wore black uniforms. Their helmets were black, too, kind of like those worn by Blackwater.
There wasn't much money to pay these fellows but they were held together by the promise that when the party gained power they could use their long knives on the hated Communists. The promise was kept, but they also used them on the leaders of the Storm Troopers in what came to be known as the Night of the Long Knives. After that the Sturm Abteilung was under control of the party.
Once the party gained power, an Enabling Act was passed that took away many of the rights of the citizens. That was OK, people thought, because it ensured their safety and security. Kind of like the Patriot Act.
But there were those who didn't have the same values as the party so a place was needed to lock them up. A complex of old warehouses at the edge of the town of Dachau proved to be just fine. Kind of like Guantanamo.
It was necessary, of course, to keep the Reichstag, the controlling body, in line so it soon became a rubber stamp organization. Kind of like Congress. Even that wasn't enough, though, so they burned the place down and dissolved the body.
Someone was needed for the people to hate and even fear so they would be loyal to the party and understand its actions. The Jews served that purpose. So did homosexuals. Kind of like Muslims and homosexuals.
Then they took over a couple of countries and needed another for the people to hate. It helps to hate a country before invading it. Poland was just right for that. Kind of like Iran.
The regular army had to be won over, at least the generals, so those that didn't spout the party's dogma soon were out of a job. Kind of like the general who said the plans for the invasion of Iraq were faulty because far more men would be needed to do the job properly.
So considering the history of private armies, does the United States need them? If so, why? Well, Blackwater is the darling of the State Department and doesn't even have to abide by the same rules as the other private armies, sometimes known as contractors. I guess that's reason enough.
Newsman Jack Cafferty just wrote a book called "It's Getting Ugly Out There." Seems like he might be onto something. There are those who say it can't happen here. But can it? Time will tell. Meanwhile, keep safe and secure. Kind of like the Germans did. For a while.


Blogger STAG said...

Oh my!

10:20 AM  

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