The Privatized Military Industry from a postinternational perspective

Seminar Paper 2007 37 Pages

Politics - International Politics - General and Theories


Table of contents

List of abbreviations

I Introduction
1.1 Object of rsearch and structure
1.2 Main questions
1.3 Method

II Theory: a postinternational worldview

III The Privatized Military Industry in theory
3.1 Mercenaries in evolution
3.2 What makes a mercenary a mercenary?
3.2.1 Private security and military companies
3.2.2 Mercenaries and ‘Corporate Warriors’
3.3 A new mediaevalism: A Hobbesian or Lockeian world?
3.4 PMCs classified
3.5 Implications of ‘modern’ mercenaries to the Westphalian state
3.5.1 Rogue firms
3.5.2 The responsibility gap

IV Regulating the industry or ‘losing control’


List of abbreviations

illustration not visible in this excerpt

I Introduction

1.1 Object of research and structure

The Privatized Military Industry (PMI) definitely is on the rise as P.W. Singer argued in 2004. In international relations scholarship, numerous research is available on this topic since the PMI started its rise during the 1990s. After having identified a rather “new” phenomenon in world politics, the process of the politicization and analytical analysis follows, drawing a comparison to a policy-analysis approach.[1]

Doing research on private actors in world politics, offering services falling within the military domain, from a postinternational perspective is a rather new thing.[2] Most researchers analyze the PMI as such, their institutional design, their organization and classify them according to the services they offer. This research is based on a different approach. It analyzes the implications of the PMI to the Westphalian state and state system by referring to postinternationalism as a worldview. What constitutes the postinternational worldview – and what indicators I will use based on this worldview – is explained in part II dealing with theory. Theory in this paper in principle can be summed up with the phrase that “the Westphalian state as such is declining in power and that private actors (in our case private military actors) such as TNCs or NGOs are becoming more important and powerful.[3] Some gain and some lose. From this perspective it is the states that lose and the private actors that gain.

This research is divided into three parts, starting with part II. Part II deals with the theoretic approach and what constitutive elements of the postinternational ‘worldview’ are. The concept of extraterritoriality, sovereignty as social construct, the Westphalian state system and the importance of a monopoly of force are part and parcel dealing with such a theoretical framework.[4]

Part III explains the PMI on the basis of the theoretic approach elaborated in part II. Together with a differentiation between the “professional soldier”, “mercenaries” and “employees of PMCs”,[5] the evolution of the PMI is shown, starting in the 1960s. Historical developments are incorporated in the several chapters. Furthermore the PMI will be explained on the idea of “a new mediaevalism” or in other words on the idea of a backlash into pre-Westphalian “polity”, using the Ferguson/Mansbach model. After having classified the PMI, implications of the so-called modern mercenaries to the Westphalian model of a state system are shown in the context of dealing with the rather negative aspects of the industry such as monopoly power, organized crime and crimes committed by employees of PMCs. The last chapter of part III deals with the legal framework regarding the question who in the end is in control and therefore responsible for actions – or even crimes – committed by PMCs in general and their employees in particular.

The last part of this research (part IV Regulating the industry of ‘losing’ control) is the concluding part. The general problem will be addressed and possible solutions to problems mentioned in the paper are included.

1.2 Main questions

The central question in this paper is the following: Can the reemergence of private interests, converging around a single domain, namely offering military services to customers of all kind, be seen as an indicator of a backlash in older than the Westphalian forms of polities?[6] The statement therefore is to show, if the postinternational worldview is right in claiming that the state loses and private actors gain power.

Furthermore this research should answer following questions:

- What is postinternationalism and what are elements of this ‘worldview’ important for the research analyzing privatized military forces?
- What is a mercenary and what a professional soldier?
- What is the evolution in practice concerning the ‘new’ mercenaries?
- What is a ‘corporate warrior’ in contrast to mercenaries and professional soldiers?
- Are there different forms or classifications of the industry offering military services (PMCs, PSCs)?
- What implications does a rise of modern mercenaries or private actors in the military domain has to the Westphalian state? Bluntly put, is the postinternational view right in arguing that the state is losing power or control and private actors gain?
- Who is in the end in control of actions PMCs undertake and who is therefore responsible? What is a “responsibility gap”?
- What is the general problem and what are possible solutions to it? Or is it generally “good” speaking in moral terms that private actors do state business in the military domain as well?

1.3 Method

It is useful to handle this topic based on the relevant academic literature because the topic as a whole is very theoretical. The sources I will use for this paper seem to be very appropriate to the topic dealing with IR theory and postinternationalism. Primary and secondary literature will be used. Primary literature is documents worked out by governments addressing the subject of this research. Secondary literature is academic books and articles in political science journals.

In a theoretical paper, to show what kind of methodology is used is essential. Hence, I totally agree with Yale Ferguson and Richard Mansbach who wrote: “Theorists’ visions of the world around them are filtered through and colored by their own preferences and perceived interests, expectations, normative commitments, and personal experiences and memories … Facts themselves have no meaning until the theorist has organized them into patterns that themselves may not exist apart from the theorist’s own imagination.[7] This introductory part shows what kind of patterns I intend to set up.

II Theory: a postinternational worldview

Postinternationalism” or “postinternational” theory reflects a worldview rather than it is a theory on her own.[8] It describes the world along certain clusters, which are relevant for the rise of private military companies as well because the major argument is that the Westphalian state is no longer the player in world politics according to the definition of what sovereignty for the state should be. The quintessence is that the state power according to what Jean Bodin defined as sovereignty in its nine dimensions is declining[9], while the power of private interests such as TNCs or PMCs is rising.[10] The overall assumption in scholarship is that Rosenau might be right arguing that there are other things as well such as transnational networks, which are important in analyzing the state system and how it works.[11]

Based on the Westphalian Peace System, the modern international state system (MSS) is based on the European system of 1648.[12] With the globalization of the European state system, rules, norms and decision making procedures became relevant for the interaction of all states in the MSS. Sovereignty as a concept was first used in political terms. In short, the principle of sovereignty combined with the effects of the Westphalian order include the principle of non-intervention (rex est imperator in regno suo), it is only the sovereign who decides upon the religion in his state (cuius regio eius religio) and the principle of the equality of states[13] (each state, no matter if it is powerful or weak, small or huge, is seen as Equal in the state system).[14] Since then the state is the core element of the international state system.[15]

This realistic view is challenged since the end of the Cold War by showing that the world isn’t really that state-centric and that “absolute” sovereignty, if you will, didn’t exist and it is not likely to exist in it’s form mentioned above. A “turbulent” world is likely to erupt in the meaning that other forms of polities are a relevant topic to discuss in IR theory. The erosion of authorities in the state system and the decline of sovereignty are part of the world James Rosenau described in 1990.[16] What is important analyzing the emergence of PMCs or “reemergence” of ‘private’ mercenaries[17] is not to distinguish between those, who or what is inside a border, a territory, and who or what is outside. An inside/outside view based on the concept of society in the form of G.W.F. Hegel’s Bürgerliche Gesellschaft[18] is according to Anna Leander “profoundly anchored in our political thinking as it is debilitating for thinking and acting politically”.[19]

Domestic and international politics are closely linked to each other. This is of course not true in all policy areas but the military field is an area where domestic decisions have enormous, if you will “turbulent” impacts to international politics.[20] Territoriality at the same time means to be responsible of what is done within the territory of one’s state. Extraterritoriality on the other hand makes it easier for TNCs and PMCs not to be liable or responsible for things done in foreign countries.[21] Rosenau further argues that “the present state of the state – of sovereignty's reach – is in flux and that a variety of signals point to a decline in the effectiveness of states, an erosion of their sovereignty, and a corresponding increase in the competency of international organizations to ignore, override, or otherwise circumvent the longstanding claims of states to full jurisdiction over their own domestic affairs.[22]

The focus in this research is on the importance of private international organizations within the military and combat domain. According to international law, the home state, where the headquarter of the company is (headquarter agreements),[23] has jurisdiction, but as we will find out in the paper, this is a rather soft tool to handle what I call the “inability of a modern states to safeguard a monopoly of force internally.” The definition of what „citizenship“ constitutes is another important aspect to mention. In general the time is over where citizenship could be seen as a form of being “loyal” to the state authority, you and your family belong to since many years. Authorities are eroding and so we have to distinguish between the formal law of being a citizen of a state and with whom your loyalty really is.[24] But as sovereignty dies hard, especially in IR theory, the state is still the important actor in world politics and postinternationalism is not there to deny this fact.[25] The state can still be seen according to Michael C. Williams as the “primary locus of security, authority, and obligation between citizens … and shows at the same time the limits of international relations in an anarchic world order.[26] This means that states remain in control as “rulers, seeking to maintain their own position”, promote their own interests – mainly what is known as the national interest[27] – and to be those who decide in the end.[28] This makes them in the end liable for actions they are not responsible for.[29] Now we could argue that international politics based on a transformed form of sovereignty is reduced to a structure of anarchy.[30] I believe that this argument may be right if sovereignty today would be “absolute” and would show the Bodinian elements mentioned above, but in a globalized world,[31] highly influenced from outside factors, international politics is not reduced to a structure of anarchy, but shows private interests in the form of powerful TNCs and PMCs as well. It clearly goes in the direction that NGOs, in our case PMCs, are gaining influence and that the Westphalian state is losing influence till a point is reached, where the state is reduced to the ruler who in the end decides at a minimum level of decision making capacities by having transferred full responsibility to the state at the same time.[32] Speaking in economic terms referring to the classical economic theory, by having open and free markets worldwide, everybody gains, some gain more and some less. With a focus on the rising influence of NGOs in world politics, TNCs and PMCs seem to gain more than the state does.[33] Speaking in terms of capabilities – compared to high as well as low politics – the more powerful actor is more likely to be more capable and able in reaching goals. Therefore the state system is not “really” anarchical. As a result the Westphalian state won’t have and never had sovereignty as such.[34] A level of analysis discussion will become obsolete,[35] if we believe in the interconnectivity of a global, a state and an individual level of analysis, in which a decision on the state level will automatically have consequences to the international side and vice versa.[36] For example, the disastrous economic and political situation of Moldova as part of the former Soviet bloc did not emerge only because of “bad” domestic politics, it is rather a burden of the past. Joseph Stiglitz argues that the country “was, in part, an innocent victim of the Russian crisis, precipitated by Russia’s inability to meet its debt obligations.[37] The same is true with private investments. In a globalized world a decision by a company to invest or reinvest is a decision on which some thousand workers rely on. You may not go that far speaking in geographic terms by having a look on push and pull factors of a migration from Mexico to the United States.[38] In fact, a state as a rational actor, has to fulfill one major element, statehood is based upon, namely the protection of the state’s population.[39] In some cases, this means to give in to the economic pressure of foreign or domestic companies.


[1] Adrienne Windhoff-Héritier (1987), Policy-Analyse: Eine Einführung, Frankfurt, p.68.

[2] This general formula includes all private actors “offering services falling within the military domain”. See Peter Warren Singer (2003), Corporate Warriors, The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry, New York, p.88.

[3] See Yale H. Ferguson, Richard W. Mansbach (2006), Postinternationalism and IR theory, Paper prepared for the Millennium Conference 2006: “Theory of ‘the international’ today”, London School of Economics and Political Science, 21-22 October 2006.; Yale H. Ferguson, Richard W. Mansbach (2004), Remapping Global Politics, History’s Revenge and Future Shock, Cambridge.

[4] The monopoly of force is based on the Westphalian peace system emerged in and around 1648. In the following, the term „monopoly of force“ or „monopoly of violence“ is used to describe that it is primarily the state that is allowed to „exercise coercion within its frontiers“. See Yale H. Ferguson, Richard W. Mansbach (2004), Remapping Global Politics, History’s Revenge and Future Shock, Cambridge, pp.233,257.

[5] PMCs in the following stand for the PMI including PSCs as well.

[6] Why the term “reemergence” and not “emergence” is used will be explained at a later stage.

[7] Yale H. Ferguson, Richard W. Mansbach (2004), Remapping Global Politics, History’s revenge and future shock, Cambridge, p.35.

[8] Yale H. Ferguson, Richard W. Mansbach (2006), Postinternationalism and IR theory, Paper prepared for the Millennium Conference 2006: “Theory of ‘the international’ today”, London School of Economics and Political Science, 21-22 October 2006, p.2.

[9] In the late 16th century the term „sovereign“ was first defined by Jean Bodin (1530-1597). He defined nine important elements of sovereignty. These elements have then been used in Münster and Osnabrück the first time all together. It is important to mention Bodin because of two reasons. First, he was the first who defined sovereignty and second he did it with nine elements that marked at the same time the finalité of this concept. It is still with us in the modern state system. See Julian H. Franklin (2003), Bodin. On Sovereignty, Cambridge, pp.46,88.

[10] Yale H. Ferguson, Richard W. Mansbach (2006), Postinternationalism and IR theory, Paper prepared for the Millennium Conference 2006: “Theory of ‘the international’ today”, London School of Economics and Political Science, 21-22 October 2006, p.1.

[11] Anna Leander (December 2006), „Paradigms as a Hinderance to Understanding World Politics”, in: Cooperation and Conflict, Journal of the Nordic International Studies Association, Volume 41, Number 4, December 2006, 370-377, p.372.

[12] Antonio Cassese (2001), International Law (handbook), Oxford, pp.33-42.

[13] The equality of states is still most important in the UN system, no matter of power, size in territory and population or economy. States are formally equal. If they are treated as Equals is another story. In political reality they are certainly not. W. Gordon East (1967,1999), The Geography behind History, How physical environment affects historical Events, London, p.180.

[14] Hendrik Spruyt (2000), “The End of Empire and the Extension of the Westphalian System: the normative basis of the modern state order”, in: James A. Caporaso, Continuity and Change in the Westphalian Order, Oxford, 65-93, p.72-77.

[15] With the French Revolution the aspect of the “natio”, which means tribe in the original meaning of the word, came in. It is commonly argued that the concept of the “sovereign” state has been replaced by the concept of the “nation-state”. Indeed, a sovereign state according to the Westphalian order can be a nation-state or not, but – and what is much more important – a nation can also be without a state. A state per definitionem and a nation per definitionem are slightly different. It is often the case that in the territory of one state many nations could be found and on the other hand one single nation could be spread amongst different states. These differentiations will not be further elaborated in this paper. The importance of the French Revolution to this topic is to show that since then most states are also defined as nations in the international state system. Fancis Fukuyama (2004), State Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st century, New York, p.ix.

[16] James N. Rosenau (1990), Turbulence in World Politics, A theory of change and continuity, Princeton, pp.412,435-437.

[17] Yale H. Ferguson, Richard W. Mansbach (2004), Remapping Global Politics, History’s Revenge and Future Shock, Cambridge, p.117.

[18] Frederick G. Weiss (1977), Hegel, The Essential Writings, New York, p.273-278.

[19] Anna Leander (December 2006), „Paradigms as a Hinderance to Understanding World Politics”, in: Cooperation and Conflict, Journal of the Nordic International Studies Association, Volume 41, Number 4, December 2006, 370-377, p.372.

[20] James N. Rosenau (1969), Linkage Politics: Essays on Convergence of National and International Systems, New York.

[21] Yale H. Ferguson, Richard W. Mansbach (2004), Remapping Global Politics, History’s Revenge and Future Shock, Cambridge, p.81.

[22] James N. Rosenau (1995), "Sovereignty in a Turbulent World”, in: Gene M. Lyons, Michael Mastanduno, Beyond Westphalia? State Sovereignty and International Intervention, Baltimore, 191-227, p.191.

[23] Art. 34 VCLT, Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties at URL: http://untreaty.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/conventions/1_1_1969.pdf

[24] Yale H. Ferguson, Richard W. Mansbach (2004), Remapping Global Politics, History’s Revenge and Future Shock, Cambridge, p.180.

[25] Ibid., pp.136,137.

[26] Michael C. Williams (2005), The Realist Tradition and the Limits of International Relations, Cambridge, p.205.

[27] From a critical theory standpoint, a national interest is more or less an instrument of defining what the interest of a country is. Has it always been the national interest of the United States to overthrow the Saddam regime in Baghdad? Certainly not. From a standpoint of national and homeland security, a national interest in vital interests of a state such as military means, sovereignty, defense or for some countries neutrality, is a good thing in order to create a regime based on one argument, namely, who is against the national interest in vital interests of the sate could be seen as a traitor. Assumptions are based on Stephen D. Krasner (1978), Defending the National Interest, Raw materials investments and U.S. foreign policy, New Jersey, p.35-55.; See The National Security Strategy of the United States of America (September 2002) at URL: http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nss.pdf.

Condoleezza Rice defines the national interest as to be “replaced with ‘humanitarian interests’ or the interests of the ‘international community’. Her idea that power matters underlines my theory mentioned in this footnote. See Condoleezza Rice (2000), “Promoting the National Interest”, in: Foreign Affairs, Volume 19, Number 1, January/February 2000, p.47.

[28] Yale H. Ferguson, Richard W. Mansbach (2004), Remapping Global Politics, History’s Revenge and Future Shock, Cambridge, p.10., quoting Stephen D. Krasner (1999), Sovereignty: Organized Hypocrisy, p.238.

[29] Liability in a legal sense means that someone could be held liable for a damage which occurred when lawful activity took place. Responsibility on the other hand is only given if a clear-cut breach of law has foregone. With regard to this topic, states could be liable in that case, if PMCs on foreign territory act in breach of an international treaty and are held responsible for their action. See Antonio Cassese (2001), International Law (handbook), Oxford, Chapters 6 and 8.

[30] Barry Buzan (December 2006), „An English School Perspective on ‚What kind of World Order?’”, in: Cooperation and Conflict, Journal of the Nordic International Studies Association, Volume 41, Number 4, December 2006, 364-370, p.365.

[31] Globalization in terms of Charles Doran is the interaction of information technology and the global economy. It is indexed in terms of the intensity, scope, volume and value of international transactions in the informational, financial, commercial, trade and administrative spheres worldwide. See Zbigniew Brzezinski (2004), The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership, New York, p.139. Another definition in short could be as follows: Globalization in a short way is the integration or interaction of everything with everything else. See Charles Kegley, Eugene R. Wittkopf (2004), World Politics: Trend and Transformation. 9th ed. Belmont/London, p.266.

[32] Yale H. Ferguson, Richard W. Mansbach (2004), Remapping Global Politics, History’s Revenge and Future Shock, Cambridge, p.11.

[33] The European Union, the European Communities and the integration in Europe since 1945 is a good example that the nation state per definitionem has lost influence and that European states realized that they might be too weak in world politics in order to be able to promote their domestic values and ideas in such a form, so that they could reach the desired outcome. “A working peace system” worked as well in the area of political cooperation. With the original functionalist and later the Haasian model of neo-functionalism, a way towards supranationalism was open, which meant at the same time that states will have to hand in even vital interests and have to accept a decline in their sovereign ability of being an actor in world politics. See David Long, Lucian M. Ashworth (1998), “Working for Peace: The Functional Approach, Functionalism and Beyond”, in: David Long, Lucian M. Ashworth, New Perspectives on International Functionalism, New York, 1-27, p.1-4.

[34] Hedley Bull (2002), The Anarchical Society, A Study of Order in World Politics, New York, p.8.

[35] The Waltzian neorealist approach favored the system level as the dominant source of explanation, while Morton Kaplan (System and Process in International Politics) argued for the state level from a realistic side. See Barry Buzan (1969), “The Level of Analysis Problem in International Relations Reconsidered”, in: James N. Rosenau, International Politics and Foreign Policy: A Reader in Research and Theory, New York, 199-207, p.201.

[36] J. David Singer (1969), “The Level-of-Analysis Problem in International Relations”, in: James N. Rosenau, International Politics and Foreign Policy: A Reader in Research and Theory, New York, 20-29, p.22.

[37] Joseph E. Stiglitz (2006), Making Globalization Work, London, p.218.

[38] See Kitty Calavita (1995), “Mexican Immigration to the USA: The Contradictions of Border Control“, in: Robin Cohen (ed.), The Cambridge Survey of World Migration, Cambridge, 236-245.; Philip L. Martin (2002), Mexico-U.S. Migration, University of California Davis, Sacramento, p.8.

[39] Antonio Cassese (2001), International Law (handbook), Oxford, p.33-42.


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Privatized Military Industry Postinternational Politics




Title: The Privatized Military Industry from a postinternational perspective