The Privatization of Peace: Private Military Firms, Conflict Resolution and the Future of NATO
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Issue 1:1

Rouba Al-Fattal

The Privatization of Peace: Private Military Firms, Conflict Resolution and the Future of NATO

The end of the Cold War marked the beginning of a new world order and an end of regional strategic patronage of superpowers. Withdrawing support to client regimes created a power void that prompted developing countries – which previously relied on major powers for their security and stability – to look somewhere else to provide them with (at least) their military needs. In addition, the demise of communism meant the repudiation of supra-national ideologies; those that once in history clearly divided states while uniting societal groups. As Huntington posits “In the post-Cold War world … global politics has become multipolar and multicivilizational … the most important distinctions among people are not ideological, political or economic. They are cultural … People define themselves in terms of ancestry, religion, language, history, values and customs.”

Consequently, the world has witnessed a dampening in inter-state (external, also called traditional) conflicts, accompanied by a boosting in intra-state (internal, also called new) conflicts and terrorist activities; due precisely to what Huntington wistfully called the ‘ideological vacuum.’ What is more, after the Cold War major powers – seeing no point in keeping a gigantic yet futile military base – embarked on a systematic programme of military downsizing, which created a surplus of ex-soldiers who were seeking other venues to utilize their skills.

Simultaneously, the forces of globalization created an open market, which allowed the excess supply of weaponry and military personnel to feed the growing demands of modern warfare in unstable niches of the world. Indeed, the ‘permanency of Private Military Companies is bewildering. Following extensive research in 2002, the International Consortium of International Journalists (ICIJ) reported that at least 90 companies were operating in 110 states worldwide.’

Suddenly, with the rise of PMFs, Max Weber’s state, ‘which claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of force within a given territory,’ ceased to exist; and what used to be considered a purely public good, suddenly became a private one. Hence, softening of states’ firm grip over security along with clients rising interest in efficiency, swiftly developed a competitive private military modus operandi compatible with post-Cold War needs.

2020 - Volume 14 Issue 1