|Caricature of Niccolo Machiavelli from the cover page of the first publication of The Prince (1550). This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.|
In Chapter 12, Machiavelli warns rulers to avoid mercenary armies. He states, "Mercenaries ... are useless and dangerous, and any ruler who relies on them to defend his state will be insecure and in peril; because they are disunited, ambitious, undisciplined, and disloyal; courageous when they are with their friends, cowardly in the presence of the enemy; they have no fear of God and don’t keep their promises." On Monday, April 13, 2015, the Honorable Royce C. Lamberth, a Senior United States District Judge in Washington, D.C., sentenced four Blackwater security contractors for a deadly 2007 shooting of fourteen unarmed Iraqi citizens in Baghdad. One of the defendants was given life in prison, while the remaining three received 30-year sentences.
This was a difficult prosecution that spanned eight years, and focused on whether individuals contracted by the State Department for security (i.e., mercenaries) are covered by federal criminal law while employed abroad. It is likely that the appeals process will continue for many more years. If only the federal government would pay more attention to books written in 1500's.