Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Italian Hostage Killed

Wow. Italian 'security guard' killed in Iraq. Italy says they're staying. What does Italy have to do with this if this guy wasn't even an Italian soldier? He was an Italian citizen, yes, but he chose to risk his life for money, and maybe something else.

I don't know exactly what this unlucky fellow did for the Americans, but being a civilian contractor - some would say mercenary - has its disadvantages. The advantages, of course, are many. One, stratospheric pay. Two, if you don't like the assignment, you don't have to go and you only risk losing your job - not prison. The biggest downside I can think of is that any mercenaries captured by 'the enemy' - whomever that happens to be - may not be afforded prisoner of war rights under the Geneva Conventions. Actually the definition of mercenary is complicated, and who knows if this guy fit the definition?

The definition goes something like this:

mercenary - adj.
1. Motivated solely by a desire for monetary or material gain.

2. Hired for service in a foreign army.

The Geneva Convention definition goes something like this:

  1. A mercenary shall not have the right to be a combatant or a prisoner of war.

  2. A mercenary is any person who:

    • is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict;

    • does, in fact, take a direct part in the hostilities;

    • is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private

    • gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party;

    • is neither a national of a Party to the conflict nor a resident of territory controlled by a Party to the conflict;

    • is not a member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict; and

    • has not been sent by a State which is not a Party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces.

I'll just say this: Mercenaries are bad for everybody involved - except the politicians. Non-resident civilians who are not aid workers/reporters/etc. should not be in a war zone. If, however, a civilian not in one of the aforementioned categories does decide to enter into that war zone, then he/she does so at their own risk.