The Wall Street Journal of all places, has an article about mercenaries which suggests to me that we have made no progress since the Middle Ages at all. Here are the two meatiest paragraphs:
Only two contractors out of the tens of thousands who have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 5½ years have been indicted for violence, and only one has been convicted. Given the aggressive tactics contractors use in both countries, where they routinely force vehicles off the road or shoot at cars that draw too close to them, Democrats and Iraqi officials say there should be more indictments and convictions.
and — the peg is the murder of an elected Iraqi politicians’s bodyguard within the Green Zone by a drunken mercenary who was then shipped home without trial:
The incident began when an off-duty Blackwater employee who had been drinking heavily tried to make his way into the “Little Venice” section of the Green Zone, which houses many senior members of the Iraqi government, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials. He was stopped by Iraqi bodyguards for Adil Abdul-Mahdi, the country’s Shiite vice president, and shot one of the Iraqis, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials. The bodyguard died at the scene, the officials say. The contractor was fired by Blackwater and has returned to the U.S. The company has declined to disclose his name.
I wonder what would happen if one of these goons shot a policeman, or even a protestor, in the UK.