Cyrus in a Commentary to an Alex Tabarrok blog had this to say:
Letters of marque might attract people to profitable violent occupations, such as armed robbery, but for unprofitable violent occupations, only direct compensation can suffice. While busting terror cells might sometimes lead to large seizures of cash or commodities, my gut feeling is that this is rare enough to not be worth it.
Now, licensing privateers to fight the war on drugs would be another thing entirely. Violently suppressing a profitable commercial enterprise is almost guaranteed to generate loot.
This comment was in response to a Query by another Commentator as to the possible effectiveness of these instruments in the War on Terror. There is some rationale for Privatizing the War on Terror. Multiple levels of Information could be gathered if the Mercenary impulse was exercised. Actual levels of violence would decrease with removal of Occupations; which would leave far less Targets of Opportunity, Targets unidentified until initiation of the short duration Raids. The argument of Cyrus relates the lack of methodology in the award of Pay to the Adventurers.
A program of Arbitration could be conducted to award Endeavors ex post facto, based upon an estimate of the damage done to Terrorists. The problem here would only be burden of proof, where Claims are verified. This would require an alternate Intelligence verification process. A War on Drugs campaign could utilize the principal of Drugs turned in, a War on Terror could utilize a bounty per Weapon or Explosive turned in.
The American people, though, would have to alter their idealistic commitment of refusal to pay for assassinations. This leaves only the potential Cost of such Switch to Privatizing warfare. The Answer, here, is a marked decrease in the actual Cost of such unconventional Combat, as it requires far less infrastructure elements. The actual difficulty of setting up such a Program stands far less complex than mounting an Occupation force, and Training Costs could be reduced to almost zero. It would require a vast increase in American cynicism, but acquires a marked decrease in American sorrow at current losses. lgl