In an article in the Corriere della Sera of August 28 2021, Ernesto Galli della Loggia poses the following question:
Are our societies still capable of waging war? Of bearing psychologically the terrible impact of a, so to speak, voluntary dimension of death? Are we still capable of accepting the possibility of knowingly giving or receiving death, as it has always meant to ‘wage war’?
The Italian political scientist responded to this crucial question by examining the military significance that the so-called contractors have taken in the operations against the Taliban. Used by the United States in all theaters of operation (from the Balkans to Iraq), these civilian combatants are hired by private companies that have entered into special contracts with the Pentagon. They are the expression of an underlying historical fact: the end of the national army in the West, replaced with a real and proper outsourcing of the war entrusted to an army of specialists who in Afghanistan have lost their lives in greater numbers than soldiers of the US Army. But, as Galli della Loggia observes, “with an army of specialists and mercenaries one can at most carry out police operations; and even these inevitably end up as the most ruinous defeats if one insists on passing them off as something else.”