To the Editor:

The opinion piece “U.S. Policy on Mercenaries in Iraq Reminiscent of ’80s” by Conor Hanlon (THE HOYA, Jan. 24, 2006, A3) provides decent insight into the parallel between Iraq and Latin America of yesterday and today. Kudos to Conor and his historical insight for bringing to the forefront how much alike the situations may appear and how the present leadership was schooled on policy from the ’80s only to reintroduce similar policy years later.

Hanlon’s article misses some things though. Hanlon labels third country nationals – former members of paramilitary and military squads in Latin America – as mercenaries, to be utilized for their killing expertise of yesterday; however, his article lacks evidence for TCNs in Iraq today.

None of the TCNs in Iraq provide any of the training. Nor do any TCNs currently in Iraq provide soldiers for offensive man-hunting or assassination or intelligence gathering or interrogation. TCNs in Iraq are only fulfilling contracts for static security – they are perimeter security guards. Nothing more. TCNs are the “Static Security Option” for private security companies that cannot obtain cheap labor in developed nations.

The missed point is that the “Salvadoran Option” shouldn’t be defined primarily upon terms expressing where a soldier did or didn’t come from.

TCNs may have skills that could well enhance the left-media-induced, odious image of special operations personnel hunting terrorists, but they do not perform that function. And even though “one can’t help but wonder if [the Iraq situation is] a throwback to American policies in Latin American in the 1980s,” one can’t help but wonder when the “fair amount of evidence” will show before getting to the end of Hanlon’s article.

S.C. Kovak

New York City, N.Y.

Jan. 25, 2006

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