Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

The Decl. of Independence comes out against the use of security contractors

As long as I was reading the Articles of Confederation, I figured I’d go back and re-read the Declaration of Independence to see how, among other things, it might illuminate the present. When I did, three things struck me. First, it is mostly a direct attack on King George III.  Second, it specifically condemns the ...

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

As long as I was reading the Articles of Confederation, I figured I'd go back and re-read the Declaration of Independence to see how, among other things, it might illuminate the present. When I did, three things struck me.

First, it is mostly a direct attack on King George III

Second, it specifically condemns the use of security contractors-or, as it quaintly puts it, "large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny."

As long as I was reading the Articles of Confederation, I figured I’d go back and re-read the Declaration of Independence to see how, among other things, it might illuminate the present. When I did, three things struck me.

First, it is mostly a direct attack on King George III

Second, it specifically condemns the use of security contractors-or, as it quaintly puts it, "large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny."

Third, overall it is well written-unlike the Articles of Confederation. At times it feels like the King James Bible: "He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance." (In the Constitution, the only phrase that carries that Old Testament majesty is at the end of Article III, about establishing that "no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood.")

I next may turn to the Constitution, which my friend Tom Donnelly has characterized as a strategic document, really the foundation of American strategy in the world. I want to see if I can discern that.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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