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Sun May 18, 2014, 06:14 AM

Rumors About the Rumor


If the rumor that U.S. mercenaries are fighting against pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine proves to be true, that will be the death knell for Western credibility. But here's another rumor to consider: The Russians just made this rumor up out of thin air.

Rumors About the Rumor
der Tagessspiegel, Germany
By Helmut Schümann
Translated By Ron Argentati
16 May 2014
Edited by Lau­rence Bouvard

Although I lived my entire life in Germany's western sector, when it comes to rumors I also once worked for East Germany. Back in 1983 as we demonstrated 500,000 strong for peace in the Bonn palace garden, there was a rumor going around that the peace movement was being financed by the DDR. We just wrote that off as the work of evil rumor-mongers. Meanwhile, we can't be so sure of that. The 500,000 figure came from the demonstration organizers who had an interest in their own success. I never counted the participants personally. The dumb thing is that with rumors, one can never be certain. Even dumber is the fact that there's scarcely ever any distance between a rumor and a conspiracy.

It's theoretically plausible that, let's say, two out of every 10 conspiracy theories aren't theories at all but are factual. So the Yanks never landed on the moon and they filmed the great leap for mankind on a Hollywood set. And they themselves crashed the planes into the World Trade Center bringing about the collapse of world order. One actually hears such rumors.

Now, German federal intelligence service BND reports it has heard some mercenaries employed by a U.S. security company are actively engaged in eastern Ukrainian operations against the pro-Russian separatists. If true, that would be no laughing matter. It's the nature of rumors that they're gradually believed depending on what they are. If one believes the Americans are capable of doing anything, then they're deploying mercenary troops in a Ukrainian civil war — period and end of discussion. If you remember Americans as the people who flew the Berlin airlift, they're the best people in the world who only do good deeds. There's no middle ground. Maybe they're guilty of a few minor infractions, but nothing serious, right? That doesn't work, either. Rumors are just stupid and should never be passed on.

In the matter at hand, if it ever came out that America was indeed involved in combat in Ukraine, that would be not only a diplomatic fiasco, it would be a catastrophic loss of any future American credibility. It would also mean a crushing victory for Russian propaganda with Moscow crowing, “We told you so! We're only defending ourselves from the West!” And they would be off the hook. It's likely the Russians themselves cooked up this story about American mercenaries. And maybe Elvis is still alive, too.

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Reply Rumors About the Rumor (Original post)
unhappycamper May 2014 OP
MADem May 2014 #1

Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Sun May 18, 2014, 06:51 AM

1. A mercenary, by definition, is a soldier of fortune.

They don't have the imprimatur of their governments when they get involved in these dirty wars. They hire themselves out and go for it, and don't ask permission, most often. Those "American" guys could in fact be South African--they like the merc game. Other nations have people who get into it, too. But hey, it's easiest to lump 'em all together and call them American, I guess!

There's a UN convention on the topic, we're not party to it and neither are a lot of other popular mercenary states (the either haven't signed or haven't ratified):


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