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Saving Sudan...privately
Posted by: Jon Henke on Monday, May 01, 2006

Via Reynolds, I see the recent Boston Globe story on privately-funded intervention in Sudan is getting attention...
Nations that do have effective military forces are unwilling to commit them to Africa. But the military tasks are often small enough so that they could be handled by mercenaries. (Sorry, private security firms.)
Unfortunately, as Jim Miller observes, the international community apparently "prefer[s] genocide to using mercenaries". The key idea from the Boston Globe story is that, with the strictures and caution against offensive military deployment that geopolitical reality imposes on Nation-States and the UN, why not let the UN do what it does well (bureaucracy and humanitarian projects) while leaving the fighting to a genuine "coalition of the willing" from the private sector?
When the world's governments and multilateral organizations have proven as ineffectual as they have in Darfur, should they turn to the private sector for help? In the absence of a viable alternative, is the international community's aversion to what some call ''mercenarism" stronger than its will to fight genocide?
[...]
The legacy of [the previous of private firms] operations, as a result, is mixed. On the one hand, the firms' tactical prowess efficiently and effectively stopped the fighting, saving thousands of lives and leading to the return of over a million refugees. But the benefits were not long-lasting.
What's more, private firms are able to "create a right-sized solution" which allows them to fit the delivery to the need, and for a lower price than Nation-State military action. What's more, forced to compete and show results to get funding, there's a mechanism for oversight. Which, as Alex Tabarrok points out, makes the "objection from David Isenberg" farcical. Isenberg asks how "you ensure oversight, [etc, etc]". But, as Tabarroke writes, "after Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, secret CIA prisons etc. how can anyone claim that this is an argument against privatization?"Try de-funding the US military when they do something of which you don't approve.

After all, if a private firm was responsible for Abu Ghraib, the bleeding hearts (rightly) concerned about the war in Sudan would pull or redirect funding immediately. As Matt Yglesias points out, "If there was money to be made getting hired by do-gooders, though, the do-gooders would presumably care about your brand's human rights record." Try de-funding the US military when they do something of which you don't approve.

In the end, this is a very good "put your money where your mouth is" opportunity for those who want to "do good", but are wary of US overextension — or generally disdain the use of the US military in roles unrelated to US national security.

Divider



Which brings us to the recent Fred Kaplan article in The New Republic...
As their criticism of the particulars of the Iraq war has hardened into a broader indictment of U.S. foreign policy, the mostly progressive voices calling for action in Darfur have become caught in a bind of their own devising. Even as they demand intervention in Sudan, they excoriate Washington for employing U.S. military power without due respect to the opinion of the international community and against nations that pose no imminent threat to our own—which is to say, precisely the terms under which U.S. power would have to be employed in the name of saving Darfur.
Some proponents of intervention in Sudan recognize the logical pretzel this puts them in, and refrain from openly advocating US military intervention. Others, determined to "do good", seem blissfully unaware of their mutually exclusive positions.Certainly, we could stop some killing and perhaps even police some areas in which terrorists operate, but then what?

Last month, the New Republic editorialized their dissatisfaction with US inaction in Sudan, writing that they "would very much like Bush to get the mandate, the money, and the troops for his Darfur proposals."

Unfortunately for the Sudanese, there's just no obvious national security rationale for the US to step into Darfur trying to salvage a recalcitrant and embattled Sudan. Certainly, we could stop some killing and perhaps even police some areas in which terrorists operate, but then what? Do we expect improvement? As I wrote at the time, in Sudan we have a "nation wherein terrorists sometimes operate, factional militia's threaten to tear the country apart, and only a strongman can hold it all together. And we're supposed to send troops there to make it all better?"
Why would "Sudanese verse, same as the first" be better?
We're still playing out that same story in Iraq, and there doesn't seem to be much public stomach to continue it much longer. Why would "Sudanese verse, same as the first" be better?

At the end of the day, without a reasonable prospect to replace the current Sudanese civil war with a sustainable, democratic Sudanese government, it's hard to see any marginal benefit to US intervention.
Bring on the Humanitarian NGO front company to which we can contribute peacekeeping funds
Private intervention, however, with fewer geopolitical consequences and more direct accountability, has no such restrictions. Bring on the Humanitarian NGO front company to which we can contribute peacekeeping funds, and let's get Blackwater, Aegis and Dyncorp on the job. They cannot possibly do worse than the United Nations, and they may just do better.
 
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This would be a disaster of the first order, well second or third order...It would be Somalia, only more confused and without the AH-6’s in back-up. Without a political framework for the solution to the crisis will the remit of the Security Forces be? If the Janajweed are on the prowl will the Security Forces be allowed to preempt or only react? In their reaction where may they go? Will hot pursuit be allowed? What will be the legal liability of the Security Forces? Can they be charged with murder or manslaughter? If they commit war crimes or violations of the Law of Land Warfare are they covred where will they be tried?

In short we are living in a libertarian/liberal pipe dream here. Without a clear-cut mission, and YES there is one, with a strategy and exit strategy in Iarq, what are we asking the Security Forces to do? And under what legal/diplomatic cover will they operate? We are simply going to "do something" so we think, about Darfur without having a coherent strategy or particularly strong forces. Mercenary/NGO forces will again, demonstrate the inability of private groups to fudnamentally change the international system, the playgropund of the state.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
All this smacks of the Viet Nam problem .. one Viet Cong minus one gun is one civilian. This means that any encounter with unfriendly forces can always be a victory if you manage to run off with all the weapons, leaving only "dead civilians" behind.

In a macro sense, this come out when the humanitarian problem is bemoaned till military action makes it a military problem, which quickly is seized upon as a problem with the military.

The endless cries of "nobody cares" from CNN’s Christiane Amanpour got us into Somalia at the end of Bush 41. In May of 1993, Clinton posed on the White House lawn with some returning vets, in his "Mission Accomplished" moment, but that was all quickly forgotten in October when those BlackHawks went down. Also forgotten was the humanitarian mission as once again "nobody cares."
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
The NGO you’re proposing seems to me to be a form of anarcho-collectivism. I’m ag’in it. The problem here is that abandoning the Westphalian state means abandoning the protections of the Westphalian state—you’re inviting reprisal in kind. That the enemy is anti-Westphalian is irrelevant.

What’s being proposed is another face of the “super-empowered individual” nightmare.

I’m afraid that the only alternatives we have in dealing with Darfur are averting our eyes, U. S. military intervention, or entertaining the romantic fantasy that someone somewhere somehow will solve the problem. The Hollywood folks are, of course, going for the fantasy. Stick with what you know.
 
Written By: Dave Schuler
URL: http://www.theglitteringeye.com
Surly you realize that the right is tied into the same logical pretzel when it claims that we are staying in Iraq for the sake of the Iraqis. We took credit for overturning a brutal dictatorship in Iraq. We are winning, right? Why not do it again in the Sudan? Osama has called on the faithful to rally there. Could it be that the war really wasn’t about removing a brutal dictator? Could it be that the war really wasn’t about terrorism? Could it be that the truth was the first casualty of war?

For good or for bad, after Iraq it will be a very long time before the US can intervene anywhere regardless of our national interest or brutality of the regime in question. Isolationism is legacy of the Iraqi war. You can call it Dennis Kusinich liberalism or Pat Buchanan conservatism. It may be a bad thing but , US aide to the people of Sudan doesn’t happen.
 
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
will the Security Forces be allowed to preempt or only react?

Allowed by whom?

What will be the legal liability of the Security Forces? Can they be charged with murder or manslaughter?

Again, by whom?
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
will the Security Forces be allowed to preempt or only react?
Allowed by whom?
What will be the legal liability of the Security Forces? Can they be charged with murder or manslaughter?

Again, by whom?
Wulf, what’s your point? IF you’re supporting my position welcome aboard, because I agree, by whom? If this is a critique I stand by your argument, "by whom" and say until that question is answered there can be NO intervention, by private or state forces.

Clausewitz makes the point that war is an act of violence for politcal ends, until the players and ends are established reasonably clearly the "by whom" question effectively dooms intervention.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Well that’s just it. They fight on our behalf; if we don’t like what they’re doing with the money we loan them to get a job done, we can stop paying them.

They’re accountable to the people who pay them, and anyone who wants to bring power to bear against them. That’s being a "soldier for hire" for you.
I have no doubt it’d be an effective force for limited objectives, ideal low intensity warfare material. Many of them would have ex-mil backgrounds or be people who couldn’t make it in the regular military for some reason (e.g., had diabetes so couldn’t become a Marine sniper). Some will be cowboys looking for some action. Some will be people who have the appropriate skills and are looking for a little cash.

If you don’t like how they do business, don’t pay them. But if they’re hired to do humanitarian work, the company leaders will make a concerted effort not to endanger their revenue stream.

And the Westphalian state is dying anyway. I highly recommend The Shield of Achilles for more on this. Mercenaries are a logical step over the next few decades.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
Or, to be more precise, we keep getting further away from the Westphalian state, which has transformed many times since its inception. With the end of the Long War of the 20th century, the nation-state model is on its way out, to be replaced gradually by another kind of state (what Bobbitt calls a market state).
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
The problem is if they commit atrocities under ’our pay’ they’ll be ’our problem’, the usual cast of boo birds will cry havoc and George Bush will be Hitler and Satan incarnate one more time.

Not a simple case of ’well Bob, you ran over a squirrel while mowing my lawn, so I’m not paying you’.

Joe is right, until they truely answer to ’someone’ who can enforce action on them when they cross some reasonably well defined lines, well, let’s just say I don’t think the readers of the New York Times ought to hire mercs unless they’re prepared to deal with them when they get a little more than rough and won’t police themselves.

And not paying them just seems to fall short of the mark on any number of levels.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
OrneryWP, mercenaries have SELDOM been the answer, to anything! Alternatively, if mercenaries are the Answer; it must have been a pretty stupid question. I would refer you to Machiavelli for a nice summary of the problems of mercenaries, and I would note that he lived in the PRE-Westphalian state, so it’s not simply a problem of mercenaires having outlived their usefulness in 1648.
If you don’t like how they do business, don’t pay them. But if they’re hired to do humanitarian work, the company leaders will make a concerted effort not to endanger their revenue stream.
Until they or their men realize that having the monopoly of violence to hand, and the International Community being unwilling to intervene, that having been THEIR mission, they will turn to brigandage and become warlords.
They’re accountable to the people who pay them,...
No they’re not... they have the guns, they are accountable to NO ONE! If the locals could have protected themselves without the mercenaries they would have done so already. All you have succeeded in doing is replacing the Janjaweed with white/black/brown/yellow/red guys from out-of-town.


...and anyone who wants to bring power to bear against them.
IF we could have brought power to bear, we wouldn’t have employed the mercenaries in the first place.

Again, what is the mission of the mercenaries? Simply to "protect" the people of Darfur? Can they preempt or only react? What if the folks in Darfur want a little "payback" of their own? Will the mercenaries shoot them too? And what about the long-term? When the mercenaries go home, IF Sudan hasn’t changed the Arab populace is simply going to repeat the current "good, clean fun" they’re currently having? How long to we leave the mercenaries there, then? Will this be an effective partitition of the Sudan? Looks to me you’re heading for an occupation much akin to Kosovo, without the reliability of regular troops.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I might point out the Dermot McMurrough thought he was hiring simple mercenaries to help him restore his petty kingdom in Ireland when he hired a collection of Norman/Flemish warriors around 1169. Ask the Irish how that worked out.
Talk about setting bad examples of mercenaries with no oversight.

When the local largest Merc leader decides he’s King of Dafur, what then?
Are we going to assume that strongly worded articles by American Newspapers and strongly worded (but not TOO strongly of course) UN statements will shame him into doing the right thing?

Or will we be waiting for the hedgemonious and empire building U.S. to fix another frigging problem for the world?
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Look I LOVED Forsyth’s Dogs of War and Pournelle’s 42nd Codominium Marine Regiment, my Father and I listed The Wild Geese as one of our favourite all-time movies, Lord knows there’s no more fun film to watch than Predator ( a mobie with Ah-Nuld and Jesse Ventura, an automatic 40mm GL and the "six-pac" minigun HAS to be good), HOWEVER, once you move beyond the regions inhabited by Hollywood or writers one finds that the PRACTICAL/REAL effect of mercenaries has been pretty dismal.

Before someone brings up the Le Legion Etrangere, note that is a special case mercenary organization. It is an organization created BY A STATE, it has it’s discipline enforced BY A STATE, the violators of its rules, internation or national, can be proscecuted BY A STATE, with the acquiesence of OTHER STATES, i.e., if one is on the run from the French Foreign Legion the French state can contact other states and expect that it will receive some help in enforcing it’s contracts and judgements from that state. It is a mercenary organization created and maintained to achieve the purposes of A STATE. And I refer readers to Douglas Porch’s French Foreign Legion for nice look at what the Legion has actually accomplished not simply a hagiography of the Legion. The Legion has done some good work at an excess cost to itself, and it is severly limited in its abilities to conduct combat operations. And this is the best and most successful mercenary organization in the world today.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Wulf, what’s your point?

If a government sending them in lieu of sending in its military, then your questions fall under the category of any other armed action by a government. If the USA sent in Blackwater, we would be as liable as if we sent in the 82nd.

If Blackwater or a similar group were funded by a private organization, then both Blackwater and the funding group would be subject to some jurisdiction or another, just like any corporation or non-profit. It’s fine for them to say they’re ready and able, but because that doesn’t change the end result of political and financial liability, they’ll never be hired and sent. Blackwater would never be as free as the Janajweed are to do whatever they like, so they will not be a viable option for dealing with the Janajweed. If our government were ever decide to do anything, there would be no reason to send in Blackwater instead of our military.

In other words, I am agreeing with you. It’s just not a real option.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
Surly you realize that the right is tied into the same logical pretzel when it claims that we are staying in Iraq for the sake of the Iraqis.
Surely you realize that this strawman has been shredded multiple times now. (And don’t call me surly, I’m actually quite a cheerful person).

We took credit for overturning a brutal dictatorship in Iraq.
And justly so.

We are winning, right?
Yes.

Why not do it again in the Sudan?
Why not the UN do it? That is the UN’s job, right? They could start by actually, oh say, sprouting the gonads just to call it ’genocide.’

Osama has called on the faithful to rally there.
Along with a number of other places, and that’s just this week. Talk is cheap.

Could it be that the war really wasn’t about removing a brutal dictator?
Could it be that the war wasn’t only about removing a brutal dictator?

Could it be that the war really wasn’t about terrorism?
Could it be that the war wasn’t only about terrorism?

Could it be that the truth was the first casualty of war?
Could it be that truth was the first casualty of BDS?
 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
You guys might find this interesting:
Executive Outcomes, the mercenary firm based in Pretoria, South Africa, and manned mostly by former members of the South African Defense Force, has proven to be a decisive factor in the outcome of some civil wars in Africa. Involved in forcing rebels to the negotiating table in Sierra Leone and more well-known for contributing to the Angolan government’s success in forcing UNITA to accept the Lusaka Protocol in 1994, Executive Outcomes reportedly has a web of influence in Uganda, Botswana, Zambia, Ethiopia, Namibia, Lesotho and South Africa.

Even though the firm’s expertise lies in fighting bush wars, it has diversified and reportedly operates 32 companies, whose interests range from computer software to adult education. The firm’s tactic of quickly regaining control of a client country’s mineral-rich regions is well-documented. Within a month of Sierra Leone’s hiring of Executive Outcomes in May 1995, government forces had regained control of the diamond-rich Kono district, which produces two-thirds of Sierra Leone’s diamonds. In Angola, oil- and diamond-producing regions were the first areas secured by government forces trained by Executive Outcomes. The firm also reportedly mines gold in Uganda, drills boreholes in Ethiopia and has a variety of interests in the other countries noted above.

Executive Outcomes claims that its sole purpose is to bring stability to the region by supporting legitimate governments in their defense against armed rebels. Nevertheless, rumors persist that the firm is connected to either the South African DeBeers Diamond Corporation or the South African government. These claims are denied by all parties, and the South African government has tried to restrict Executive Outcomes’ business ventures.

The intermixing of paramilitary and commercial ventures makes it difficult to determine the number of mercenaries involved in various countries. Most reports indicate there were between 150 and 200 in Sierra Leone, while reports from Angola vary, indicating between 500 and 4,000 members in that country. At any rate, Executive Outcomes has proven to be a sound investment for the governments of Angola and Sierra Leone. Those successes may help to persuade other countries in the region to employ the firm’s services. Increased involvement in regional security problems and an expanded portfolio of affiliated businesses suggest that Executive Outcomes will play a periodically visible role in sub-Saharan African affairs.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
How about gathering all those well-meaning people into a volunteer brigade, a la the Abraham Lincoln brigade during the Spanish civil war? Not only would this give some help to the Darfurians(?)(sounds Star Trekkish, eh?), it would settle all those arguments about chickenhawks that have ben cluttering up the place. I would expect Clooney, Penn, and Baldwin to be first in line to offer their services. An added bonus(and my main goal) is that we would not have to listen to them for awhile, maybe ever. If it’s good enough for George Orwell, it’s certainly good enough for A. Baldwin et al. I will even contribute money for this worthy cause.
We would certainly not have to worry about the concerns raised here about political coups or criminal action, because these people would never do any wrong. They are driven only be pure altruism.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Joe -

First note: after much debating on the internet, I can tell you without reservation that extensive use of capital letters does not help get your point across. It’s like SUDDENLY YELLING in the middle of a sentence (see how odd that looks, Joe?).

I tell you this because I think you have a fairly respectable point and I think you’d get it across more effectively without the distracting caps and liberal use of bold tags. You’re free to take my advice or leave it.

Now, to the matter at hand: I’m not saying mercenaries don’t have drawbacks; they certainly do. However, they have a different set of drawbacks and advantages than state troops or troops serving under an IGO like the UN, and that’s where we can start discussing where they might be useful.

IGOs often come under fire because of the nature of their organization and the fact that, despite their universal banner, they tend to impose a particular view of "human rights" that not all member-states share. Thus they have to tread a line so fine that it doesn’t really exist in a lot of areas, because they have to appear to represent as many member-states as possible to stay legitimate.
On the other hand, individual states come under fire to no end because they are intervening — or not intervening — in a place where they have no clear security interest, in a place that has not threatened them.

Now, let’s consider what a mercenary organization can bring to the table, if nothing else as an intellectual exercise. No one suffers any illusions about who mercenaries represent: they represent their own self-interest, which much more often than not coincides with whoever’s paying them.
They do not suffer the administrative delays a state does. They get their orders in the most capitalist of fashion — "here’s your money, perform this service for me" — and nobody’s forced to pay for an operation with which they don’t agree.

If the operation doesn’t meet with the approval of those who would pay, mercenaries may find it difficult to continue the operation. They’ll keep around a little extra store of money to cover the possibilitythat they’ll need to abort the mission, and if and when support among their backers dries up, they get out.

To whom else should they be accountable?
If you don’t like how they do business, don’t pay them. But if they’re hired to do humanitarian work, the company leaders will make a concerted effort not to endanger their revenue stream.
Until they or their men realize that having the monopoly of violence to hand, and the International Community being unwilling to intervene, that having been THEIR mission, they will turn to brigandage and become warlords.
If the mercs think they can squeeze an African village for more than their backers are willing to pay (I have my doubts), what have their backers lost? Especially since they’re probably there to protect a particular population from another warlord?

Keeping in mind the alternate options available to mercs, those who would purchase their services will have to keep that in mind. You get what you pay for.
They’re accountable to the people who pay them,...
No they’re not... they have the guns, they are accountable to NO ONE! [...] All you have succeeded in doing is replacing the Janjaweed with white/black/brown/yellow/red guys from out-of-town.
I’m sorry, there’s no way mercs are going to get more out of the residents of Mogadishu than they’d get out of their Western clients. And again, if they turn around and actually do decide to stay, what do we lose?
If the locals could have protected themselves without the mercenaries they would have done so already.
The mercs wouldn’t have been hired in the first place if the situation was fine or states and IGOs hadn’t already failed to intervene. Mercs cover the middle ground (crisis: yes; other actors intervening: no).
...and anyone who wants to bring power to bear against them.
IF we could have brought power to bear, we wouldn’t have employed the mercenaries in the first place.
You’re mixing up the "we" here.
If the United States/West/whoever as larger actors are unwilling or unable to intervene, individual entities hire mercenaries.

If the mercs get out of line, cutting out their revenue stream is one way pof bringing power to bear against the mercs. If our level of interest compels us to take greater action, then why not? If they don’t warrant the greater action, we haven’t lost much.
Heck, we could hire other mercenaries to go after the first ones; whatever the mercs have their hands on can only be cut so many ways.
Again, what is the mission of the mercenaries? Simply to "protect" the people of Darfur?
Those who are paying them make the rules; the customer is always right.
Can they preempt or only react? What if the folks in Darfur want a little "payback" of their own? Will the mercenaries shoot them too?
The golden rule: whoever has the gold makes the rules. A company will clarify the rules of engagement under which it’s willing to operate, and they’ll be hired based on that.
And what about the long-term? When the mercenaries go home, IF Sudan hasn’t changed the Arab populace is simply going to repeat the current "good, clean fun" they’re currently having?
That’s hardly a problem unique to mercenaries.
How long to we leave the mercenaries there, then? Will this be an effective partitition of the Sudan?
Again, hardly a problem unique to mercenaries.
Looks to me you’re heading for an occupation much akin to Kosovo, without the reliability of regular troops.
If you don’t want an occupation, don’t pay for one.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
timactual -
How about gathering all those well-meaning people into a volunteer brigade, a la the Abraham Lincoln brigade during the Spanish civil war?
There is such a thing as proxy activism. I’m doing what I do best; let the soldiers do what they do best.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
DUDE I LIKE THE EMPHASIS OF CAP’S, I’m sure you disliked ee cummins, too....
The golden rule: whoever has the gold makes the rules. A company will clarify the rules of engagement under which it’s willing to operate, and they’ll be hired based on that.
Got the other quote for ya, "All power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

IF the mercenaries don’t "live up to their contracts" and someone cuts their pay, as someone pointed out already, be prepared to see a "King of Darfur."

And Darfur won’t be paying for them...If Darfur had the cash for an army, IT WOULD HAVE ONE OF ITS OWN RIGHT NOW.

But Darfur has value...oil concessions. Both France and the PRC are involved in oil concessions in the region. It’s one, not the only one, but one of the sticking points about involvement there. They don’t want the Sudan to negate their concessions.

Bottom-Line: all theory aside, mercenaries have a bad track record, as combat force. At the end of the day they tend to loot their employers. As Darfur has SOME value, in the future, and being King of Darfur has a certain appeal, I’d imagine that mercenaries in Darfur will simply be one more group of vicious men with guns making the life of the residents of Darfur miserable. I will now be dismissive, you can keep dreaming about contracts and what if’s but I would refer you to history about the general trend of mercenary operations. Like many libertarian ideas it SOUNDS good, but the execution h’uuum, or as was said in Breaker Morant:

There once was a man from Australia
Who painted his arse like a dahlia
The colour was fine, likewise the design,
But the smell, ugh that was a failure!

The design is fine, but the end result, UGH that will be a failure....
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Another little blurb you guys might find interesting:
At least 90 companies that provide services normally performed by national military forces but without the same degree of public oversight have operated in 110 countries worldwide, providing everything from military training, logistics, and even engaging in armed combat. Amid the global military downsizing and the increasing number of small conflicts that followed the end of the Cold War, governments have turned increasingly to these private military companies to intervene on their behalf around the globe, a new investigation by the Center for Public Integrity’s International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has found.
It’s not like what Jon is suggesting is new. The Angola and Sierra Leon examples I cited above are among two of the best known sucesses. Obviously, as Ornery points out, mercs bring a different set of problems than do a regular military. But they can and have been used successfully in Africa.

And when you look at the lack of response by, well, anyone except Osama, what has Darfur to lose if they were employed there? It’s not like they’re going to find riches or wealth by looting people who’ve lost everything and are starving to death.

If they are smart entrepreneurs, they’re looking for jobs, not just a job. Consequently, they’d like to use Darfur to land further jobs (bush wars, and the like). Blow Darfur and they’re done. A sort of death sentence, no pun intended.

Would there be ROE problems? Probably. "Collateral damage". Probably. But given the 3 years of nothing the survivors in Darfur have had to this point, my guess is they’d be willing to take their chances.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
As Jon said though, I must admit, they’d be very hard pressed to do worse than the UN, and you make a good point that Dafur hasn’t just got a whole pant load to lose either.

Be nice if they could recruit Falkenberg’s Legion eh (although as I recall that was a front organization for a real military for most of the books)



 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
This Sudan factoid stuck out ..

Uranium reserves are also believed to exist near the western borders with Chad and Central African Republic. i.e. Darfur
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Uranium reserves are also believed to exist near the western borders with Chad and Central African Republic. i.e. Darfur
Actually, Neo, that’s a good thing. In Angola and Sierra Leon, the PMC employed traded their services for mineral concessions. No victory, no concessions. A bit of an incentive. And it ties them to the land, which makes them less likely to mess in the nest they’ll be trying to exploit in times of peace.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Wait a minute, am I being a little too selfish here? But I dont see either a strategic nor economic American interest. Sudan is populated by barabric bloodthirsty people following an intolerant Iron Age religion. Why in the hell should I care?
 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
There is a continuum of mercenary/private security firms and functions and what seems to be proposed for Darfur is outside those parametres.
At one side one has the La Legion Etrangere. It IS a mercenary unit, in that its members are NOT French citizens and have joined, in part for the money. But it IS strongly regulated and controlled by A SINGLE STATE. It serves the purposes of the French state and is simply ONE component of the French Armed Services. Le Legion HAS rebelled, 1962, and was put down by the Regular Forces, it is not the sole provider of organized violence within the French state’s control.
Executive Outcomes is somewhat different, in that it is a private concern that serves various nations. It does seem to meet the more classical vision of the Mercenary. However, note EO DOES NOT PROVIDE ARMED AND ORGANIZED UNITS, nor is it the sole provider of organized violence within its employer’s command. EO provides a small number of technical personnel, security consultants, trainers, armed guards/bodyguards, intelligence and interrogation specialists. Executive Outcomes SUPPLEMENTS its host nation’s capabilities, and EO represents very little threat to its host nation, it employs only a few hundred personnel worldwide.
Finally there are groups like Blackwater. They are NOT mercenaries. They are private security consultants. They serve as trainers, advisers, and security personnel, for private concerns. They do not serve as an ersatz Army. They will train SoCal Edison personnel deploying to Iraq in security, they train Iraqi’s providing such security, they may even provide the security themselves, but they do NOT serve as a Replacement for the Iraqi or US/Coalition forces. They are highly skilled and paid Rent-A-Cops. they are NOT mercenaries.
What is being proposed, it seems in Darfur, would require something akin to the French Foreign Legion, not Executive Outcomes, nor Blackwater. And that being the case that’s why it’s a pipe dream. What will be the PURPOSE of the International Lincoln Brigade? Who will serve as it’s Board of Directors? How will the troops be paid? To whom, ultimately shall they answer, the UN, Darfur, who? Until those questions can be answered NO force will serve much purpose in Darfur, but mercenaries less so than most.
Mercenaries fall within the larger category of alienated, disaffected youth, with weapons. The record of such groups in Latin American, Sub-Saharan Africa and the like suggest that their employment will be a disaster. OrneryWP asked what’s in an African village worth exploiting, and my response is to, I don’t know but in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Somalia, and Latin America gangs of armed men have looted and pillaged for not much more valuable than what’s in Darfur.
Turning loose a large group of armed young men on the people of Darfur is a recipe for disaster. They will be the only armed force in the region, they will BE the international Janjaweed.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
However, note EO DOES NOT PROVIDE ARMED AND ORGANIZED UNITS, nor is it the sole provider of organized violence within its employer’s command. EO provides a small number of technical personnel, security consultants, trainers, armed guards/bodyguards, intelligence and interrogation specialists. Executive Outcomes SUPPLEMENTS its host nation’s capabilities, and EO represents very little threat to its host nation, it employs only a few hundred personnel worldwide.
Actually EO hasn’t existed since 1999. But it did indeed have more than a "few hundred personnel worldwide":
EO was initially formed from these disbanded special forces and within a short period could boast having 500 military advisers and over 3000 highly-trained military personnel at its disposal.
Most of its troops came from SA’s elite 32 Battalion Reconnaisance Wing.

And while it did indeed mostly do training, it wasn’t above conducting a few small unit ’exercises’ at strategic times and places either.

If I’m not mistaken, it also had air assets in Sierra Leon (helicopters) which were quite potent (and helpful).
Turning loose a large group of armed young men on the people of Darfur is a recipe for disaster.
Who mentioned anything about turning anyone "loose?" They’d be given a mission and paid to complete the mission. How is that turning them "loose"?
They will be the only armed force in the region, they will BE the international Janjaweed.
To what end? They’d be kings of a lifeless desert and a bunch of poor and starving people.

Wow.

Where do I sign up?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
McQ:
OrneryWP asked what’s in an African village worth exploiting, and my response is to, I don’t know but in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Somalia, and Latin America gangs of armed men have looted and pillaged for not much more valuable than what’s in Darfur.
Who mentioned anything about turning anyone "loose?" They’d be given a mission and paid to complete the mission. How is that turning them "loose"?
Ok, what would that mission be, again? And if the International Brigade thought it might like to strike a deal witht he PRC for the oil concessions what we the response be?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Joe -

Again, I can only advise you, but it would do you some good to split up your paragraphs (provide some spacing by hitting Enter one more time between paragraphs) and cut down on the caps. Maybe you like CAPS and big blocks of text, but the people you’re trying to convince find it harder to read on a computer screen.

Ideally, you want people to be able to read your text easily and not be distracted by constant use of CAPS. Look at a book or opinion page in a magazine or newspaper sometime and notice how little the average author uses emphases like italics and capital letters on a given page. You get diminishing returns with emphasis; if every other word is emphasized by caps and bold and italics, nothing is *really* emphasized.

And once again, I don’t mean to harass you. If I thought you were imbalanced, stupid and/or just not worth listening to, I wouldn’t spend the time advising you on how better to articulate your points so as to be persuasive.

Now, back to the point (again):
What is being proposed, it seems in Darfur, would require something akin to the French Foreign Legion, not Executive Outcomes, nor Blackwater. And that being the case that’s why it’s a pipe dream.
Well hold on. The French Foreign Legion wasn’t independent and private, was it?
And the time in which they fought was different than what we face today, was it not? Today, smaller numbers of organized and well-armed individuals can do what used to take battalions, and the logistics situation has, as you might imagine, changed dramatically. But let’s be a little more specific...
What will be the PURPOSE of the International Lincoln Brigade?
Well, it’s not exactly a Lincoln Brigade either. Let’s talk pure corporate mercenary outfit here and lose some of the stretched historical comparisons.
Their motivation will be the same as any private mercenary outfit: trading armed force for money.
Who will serve as it’s Board of Directors?
I don’t see why that matters; please clarify.
How will the troops be paid?
Depends on who’s financing them, but I imagine you cut a check based on some form of revenue, whether it be cash payment or some other incentive (e.g., McQ’s example of mineral rights).
To whom, ultimately shall they answer, the UN, Darfur, who?
I must be missing something here, because I don’t see why this is so complicated: they are responsible to those who pay them insofar as they fight for money, and they are responsible to anyone else who brings force to bear against them. If you think the UN should hold them responsible, but know that the UN can’t handle a private mercenary force, then your humanitarian purpose was probably shot to hell in the first place. If you think Darfur should hold them responsible, well, sorry, but a fact of life is that if you’ve got nothing to offer and no power to resist those with guns, you are subject to those who DO have guns. But how could being at thew mercy of a mercenary corp be worse than being actively exterminated?

That merc corp needs certain things to keep operating, like food and water and shelter and ammunition and a whole host of other things. If they’re getting checks financed by humanitarian-cause-motivated clients, they probably have more to lose by breaking their contract than they have to gain by subjugating a group of Africans.
Until those questions can be answered NO force will serve much purpose in Darfur, but mercenaries less so than most.
Less so than non-existant UN peacekeepers and non-existant Coalition troops?
Mercenaries fall within the larger category of alienated, disaffected youth, with weapons.
Only if you hire disaffected youth with guns. Alternatively, you could hire ex-mil professionals.
The record of such groups in Latin American, Sub-Saharan Africa and the like suggest that their employment will be a disaster.
There are real professional mercenary organizations out there, ready to be hired by foreign clients to hop around from hotspot to hotspot? I didn’t know about this. Tell me more.

OrneryWP asked what’s in an African village worth exploiting, and my response is to, I don’t know but in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Somalia, and Latin America gangs of armed men have looted and pillaged for not much more valuable than what’s in Darfur.
Yeah, but they don’t have an alternative of a steady paycheck from Western patrons.
Turning loose a large group of armed young men on the people of Darfur is a recipe for disaster. They will be the only armed force in the region, they will BE the international Janjaweed.
The kind of force needed to secure Darfur wouldn’t be able to hop around Africa without outside support.
-=-=-=-=-=-
The fact of the matter is, with fewer and fewer people heeding the nationalist call of the nation-state to fight and die for one’s country, and the prospect of mass conscription rendered not only ineffective in the new military but also politically suicidal, we are turning more and more to alternate methods of reward for those who fight. We’ve decreased the risk to people on the front lines by investing heavily in a "long tail" that makes the military 10% infantry, 90% support roles, but this only goes so far to reduce the risk sufficiently.

We have to buy a larger and larger portion of our military lately with promises of a college education, money, and other benefits. We’re about half a step from buying soldiers with the offer of citizenship (I’ve argued for this, as has Max Boot), and to a small extent have already begun.

Modern militaries are increasingly going to have to "buy" troops, replace their functions with automation, and outsource them. There are niches where each of these things can be done, and the US military is doing all three of these things.

The question is how far this can go when states are shedding what used to be core responsibilities. Several of the most advanced/developed states have begun figuring out that they can’t afford to provide many services as well as private actors in a growing number of areas, and so they’ve started "privatizing."
Mercenaries are just one more manifestation of this: they have a different set of advantages and disadvantages than IGO and state armed forces, which means they have the benefit of comparative advantage.

My wager is, as soon as you see a truly professional mercenary organization, it will have no trouble finding clients and financing.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
Well hold on. The French Foreign Legion wasn’t independent and private, was it?
Nope never was, founded in the aftermath of a French revolution, 1832 (?), by Royal Decree.
I don’t see why that matters; please clarify.
Board of Directors, set policy, and exactly HWO will besetting the policy of the organization?
To whom, ultimately shall they answer, the UN, Darfur, who?

I must be missing something here, because I don’t see why this is so complicated:

Uh, the person who will be responsible for the actions, goals of the organization, who will determine whether something is acceptable policy and when the policy goals have been fulfilled? You know like the President and Congress are doing are discussing about Iraq? So who will send the brigade home, saying "You have the thanks of a grateful nation?"
Only if you hire disaffected youth with guns. Alternatively, you could hire ex-mil professionals.
Dude, look at the folks that made up mercenary units in the 1960’s and 1970’s....
My wager is, as soon as you see a truly professional mercenary organization, it will have no trouble finding clients and financing.
yes as soon as I see one... I’m pretty arrogant here, but I am very confident that I KNOW a whole lot of military history, and you know there really HASN’T BEEN A TRULY PROFESSIONAL MERCENARY FORCE. If you want to find a mercenary unit that meets your goals and definitions you make give me an example, OK?

Examine history from ~1300 on and you will find DARN few mercenary units that anyone would be proud of. The Scot’s provided mercenary to the French State, mercenary units have served STATES but seldom have truly mercenary corporations existed.

 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Ok, what would that mission be, again?
That’s up to the entity which hires them. I’d assume they’d have one in mind or there’s no reason to do so, is there?
And if the International Brigade thought it might like to strike a deal witht he PRC for the oil concessions what we the response be?
And how would they carry that off? After all, they may be better armed than the crew they’d be asked to fight in Sudan, but that’s about it.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I’m pretty arrogant here, but I am very confident that I KNOW a whole lot of military history, and you know there really HASN’T BEEN A TRULY PROFESSIONAL MERCENARY FORCE.
Actually there has, and we’re back to Executive Outcomes, which successfully completed missions given to it by the states of Angola and Sierra Leone.

They were very professional, as stated, mainly populated by members of the SAS-type 32 Recon Wing of the South African Special Forces. They apparently did very good (and professional) work.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Actually, I think there have been a number of successful mercenary units dating back at least 100 years. Why not, as the ingredients of a good military unit are the same, whether mercenary or national; leadership, discipline, and training?
The most famous current mercenary unit I can think of is Britain’s Gurkha regiment. They have performed quite well for a number of years. There were quite a few colonial units that performed well for the French and British, and even the Germans. The exploits of Von Lettow-Vorbeck(?) and his african troops during WWI are truly impressive. Sometimes these mercenary troops fought better for their paymasters than they did for their own countries.
Even the arabs fought better when they were led by French and British officers fighting for their colonial masters than they do now.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
McQ Executive Outcomes is 500 guys/gals scattered around the world... they provide specialty services to their employers. They are NOT a combat force! They are drill sergeants, S-3’s, S-2’s, and S-4’s! The employer provides the combat power, EO provides it’s skills as a combat multiplier. The 3,200 number is the number of folks they have TRAINED, they do not have a 4,000 man force, brigade-sized, for combat.


The Ghurka’s are a professional mercenary force, it is true, and a good one, in the service of BRITAIN. If anyone can find a conditierre unit that has perforemed reliably and well, whip it out. We’re not talking about a unit hired by a state to perform state sanctioned duties, but a force raised independently of the state it will be serving.

And McQ you know the story of the two men and the bear, right? "You can’t outrun the bear!" "I don’t HAVE to, I only have to outrun YOU."
And if the International Brigade thought it might like to strike a deal witht he PRC for the oil concessions what we the response be?
And how would they carry that off? After all, they may be better armed than the crew they’d be asked to fight in Sudan, but that’s about it.
They WILL be the best armed in Sudan, and that’s all they need to be...

A solution really is the will to commit the US Green Berets, Yes, I understand they want to be known as Special Forces, but I grew up with Robin Moore and John Wayne, not "Howling Mad" Murdoch and George Peppard, to train the people of Darfur to defend themselves. Whilst simultaneously proposing a Canton System for Sudan and an end to the war. No mercenaries, some diplomats, some Green Berets, some money and some guns. It stands a better long-term chance of success than deploying some modern-day Mike Hoare to Darfur.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
The answer here is so simple that I skipped all the commentary (though I’m sure it was mostly intelligent.

Anyone remember the old Star Trek episode where the Klingons backed one tribe while the the Federation was trying to help the ’good guys?’

Strip away all the campy dialogue and it’s obvious. Just arm the weaker party.

Private armies may be the next best thing, but empowering people to fight for their own rights is probably the best bet.

Many may argue that they lack the skills and/or will, but is that really our problem? Training and an occasional finger on the scale would do wonders.
 
Written By: Bruno
URL: http://www.extremewisdom.com
What seems to be Joe’s argument is, there haven’t been full combat forces before that weren’t supported by states, and so there can’t possibly be any in the future.

As further argument, he seems to believe that no military force is viable for a mission which:
(a) does not have a specially picked board of directors,
(b) is not responsible to anyone except those who finance them,
and a few other arguments that I think I fielded to his satisfaction.

He cites the historical record, saying that no group has met all of the following criteria:
(1) professional fighting force
(2) independent of states
(3) fulfilled its duty without turning on the locals

I think that the society of states, and the vastly greater power of the private sector, have changed sufficiently that an organization of this kind is not only plausible, but probable.

Here’s why:
* Professional fighting forces no longer have to be very large. There are a wide range of conflicts where there exists a demand for a fighting force that can accomplish limited objectives.
* The global private sector has grown sufficiently wealthy, powerful, and capable of international transactions that states are no longer the only patrons who can afford a fighting force. In a world where private corporations have larger budgets (and more competent leadership) than many small countries, new opportunities have arisen. This also means that the private sector has much more to offer than the local populace in many places (e.g., African villages), which minimizes the likelihood of the mercenaries turning on the people they’re supposed to protect.
* IGOs and states are limited in their ability to act in many circumstances where their armed forces may be in demand. This creates a niche market and comparative advantage. And where there’s a will, there’s a way (so the saying goes).

My question, Joe, is what do you do when political pressures make deploying Green Berets (or Blue Helmets for that matter) impossible? Don’t propose a counter-factual situation in which these situations don’t exist and suggest sending in the Green Berets. (Same goes for arms sales.) This is a complicated situation and a demand *does* exist to resolve it, but current channels of force aren’t doing the job.

I don’t think it will be long before you see a genuine, professional, mercenary fighting force that can draw financial support from private interested parties all around the world. Payment across any border, in any currency, can be as simple as PayPal or online banking. They could have fundraisers, for cryin’ out loud — remember how fast billions were raised for tsunami relief? Same principle, different instrument.
All it requires is an organization that explicitly says, "What’s it worth to you to see a better outcome in Darfur?" (or whatever the hotspot of the day happens to be).

If you’re afraid that they won’t be accountable to the UN, well sorry, but I see that as a benefit. If you’re afraid they won’t be responsible to the people of Darfur, well, no armed force is going to be responsible to people who have nothing to offer them, whether they’re being paid by the Department of Defense, the United Nations or a mercenary organization. With the mercenary organization, though, you’d know that the people paying them tens/hundreds of thousands of dollars per soldier would withdraw their support immediately if abuses occurred. When abuses happen within the US military (Abu Ghraib, Gitmo) or the UN (Oil for Food, sex scandal in Congo), on the other hand, nobody gets to withdraw their money.
If anything, mercenary organizations offer more accountability, not less.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
McQ Executive Outcomes is 500 guys/gals scattered around the world... they provide specialty services to their employers.
Well not really Joe. It is reported that they had between 500 and 4,000 in Sierra Leone and in reality they did far more than just "specialty services".
They are NOT a combat force!
Well they were in Sierra Leone.
Roelf was in Sierra Leone with Executive Outcomes (EO), a private mercenary army composed of former South African soldiers, which had been hired by the government to end the war. “We want to help African countries to neutralize their rebel wars and not depend on the UN to solve their problems,” Roelf told me one afternoon in the remote diamond region where he and his fellow mercenaries had set up their hilltop military base. “We are something like the UN of Africa, only with a smaller budget.” When some Sierra Leonian women stopped by to request protection for a soccer game down by the river because rebels were still roaming the bush, Roelf promised to help. “I am the ombudsman here,” he said. Roelf was in fact more of an independent marshal hoping to enlarge his bank account with diamonds. And he was clearly attempting to dress up his mercenary operation with the language of international peacekeeping. But the village chiefs didn’t care whether Roelf was a mercenary, an Afrikaner, a UN peacekeeper, or what, so long as he continued to protect the people with his soldiers and helicopter gunships.

Between 1991 and 1995 Sierra Leone descended into a state of violent anarchy with both rebels and renegade government soldiers waging a war of terror against civilians—torching villages, hacking people to death, or chopping off their hands, feet, and genitals. The international community had little inclination to get involved. The United Nations had seen enough humiliation with Somalis dragging dead American peacekeepers through the streets of Mogadishu, the Bosnian Serb Army taking United Nations peacekeepers hostage, and Rwandan genocidaires killing Belgian blue helmets. So the young Sierra Leonian military president turned to the international market and hired Executive Outcomes. They agreed to destroy the rebels and restore law and order in return for 15 million dollars and diamond mining concessions. Within a year EO stabilized the country enough for the population to line up for its first presidential elections in twenty-eight years.
Note the point about how they filled in when the rest of the world, to include the UN, seemed uninterested.

Sound familiar?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
joe, joe, joe

when will you learn. tsk tsk

as usual you are WRONG again.
 
Written By: McQ2
URL: http://nukethebabywhales.gov
Oops. Never mind. I was thinking that the rank and file are mercenaries, as they have no particular loyalties to their employers, other than money. The leaders, of course, have different priorities.

This does, however, fit nicely into my self-improvement plan. This week, coincidentally, I am working on humility, and there is nothing quite like self-inflicted public embarassment to improve ones humility index. I am actually quite proud of the progress I am making in this area.

On a related note, is there not some way that a 24 hr. delay can be put on that "add comment" button? This may cut down on the number and volume of comments, but the quality would most likely improve.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Hot off the grill at TCS Daily: Send in the Mercenaries

How ’bout that.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://

 
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