Private Military Companies and ethics

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Bigdumps, Jun 20, 2008.

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  1. Hello all,

    Just thought that some of you on here might be able to shed some light on this for me.

    Recently some of the lefty students are my university were making an issue of PMCs, saying they were unethical, danger to democracy and so on. Now, sadly I didnt have enough time to go up to them and find out.

    What are the problems here exactly?
  2. That they are students I expect. It goes with the territory.
  3. PMCs have done good work in places like Sierra Leone, try searching the web, and no doubt you'll find loads of arguments both for and against.
  4. It's rather like asking the question, "As an inanimate article is a rifle unethical, a danger to democracy etc?" It's entirely who is paying, what is the mission etc.

    On further questioning they may be referring the use of PMCs as force multipliers. As such, when contracted to sovereign democratic governments the ownership of the morality of the contract rests with the government and ultimately the electorate.

    Traditionaly the business of war has been run as a nationalised concern, except (and this is debatable) procurement of kit. The global march to more orthodox capitalism has removed that taboo. There is now significant "outsourcing" and therefore profit.

    So the arguement with the students really comes down to an economic one: state ownership or private market?
  5. It depends on your point of view really. I would hardly call them a threat to democracy because mercenaries have existed for thousands of years (and in several circumstances have been used to create democracies) and yet democracy has flourished.

    A normal soldier will almost always regard himself (and should be by others as) a defender of his nation and its interests and not in it for the pay. If that were the case then everyone would try and become a mercenary straight away (or try organised crime). In my opinion a mercenary CAN BE little more than a gangster or thug but the existence of mercenaries can be a force for the good (just depends who is hiring them). In my view a mercenary is someone with few morals and does not care what he is asked to do as long as they get paid. there are exceptions; for example former creator of the SAS David Stirling became a mercenary in order to unofficially promote Britains interests abroad by supplying the enemies of our enemies on behalf of our country.

    p.s. what do students know about anything military?????
  6. This is only really valid if you hold the view that the profession of soldiering can only exist when the soldier is employed by a state. You clearly don't think that, as you laud Stirling's work.

    Soldiering is a profession, just like engineering or law. And just like those professions there will saints and sinners.
  7. That is why I capitalised "CAN BE" but as I and others have said it depends on the individual and the employers. I am not going to demonise all mercenaries some are quite agreeable fellows but there are a select few that give everyone a bad name.

    What I will say is that there is certainly more dignity and honor in conventional soldiering for ones own country.
  8. mysteron

    mysteron LE Book Reviewer

    The question about ethics with regard to PMCs and PSCs is the same as multi-million dollar global companies. Some companies will bend the rules as far as they can, whilst others stake their brand on ethical trading. But they all have one thing in common:

    Their bottom line. As long as the figure is black and preferably in 9, 10, 11 digits the bosses are happy because the shareholders are.

    Multi-million dollar companies have as much to answer for the threat to democracy as PMCs and PSCs - take any diamond mining or oil company as an example. Some are ethical and some are not, some have influenced countries political agenda and indeed some cases who runs the country.

    So the students you are speaking with need to open their eyes a little before they think that PSCs and PMCs are Satan's only weapon on earth.
  9. That the existence of PMC's is unethical? No. Read your history and you'll find that PMCs (or their equivalent) have existed since the 16th Century and that everybody and I mean EVERYBODY, has used PMCs at some time. National governments, businesses and even whingeing, leftie NGOs (although they'll do what they can to disguise the fact).

    That the behaviour of modern-day PMCs can be unethical? Absolutely. You only have to see the recruitment, training and lack of SoPs of some of the PMCs operating in Iraq and Afghan, and the bog standard of operators that they employ to see that. And this goes for some of the anciens who were around before the Iraq Gold Rush. One company in particular had a subsidiary that manufactured body armour. Before they would provide said kit to their guys in Iraq, it was ordered from the subsidiary in the States and VAT, customs, shipping and various other taxes were added on to client invoices as though the kit had been sent from the States to the UK and then on to the guys on the ground. In reality, the kit was shipped directly from the States to Iraq and the PMC concerned gained a magnificent mark-up. Didn't matter that the blokes who needed it on the ground were being shot up to fukc, profit was God.

    Read a book by Dr Peter Singer (Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry, Peter W. Singer, Cornell University Press, March 2004. ISBN 0-8014-8915-6) and all will be revealed.
  10. Great, i've ordered it as well as a couple of others. Looking on wikipedia (yes I know its not the most reliable source) I discovered this:

    In September 2005, Brigadier General Karl Horst, deputy commander of the Third Infantry Division charged with Baghdad security after the 2003 invasion, said of DynCorp and other PMCs in Iraq: These guys run loose in this country and do stupid stuff. There's no authority over them, so you can't come down on them hard when they escalate force... They shoot people, and someone else has to deal with the aftermath. It happens all over the place.


    "On October 27, 2005, a "trophy" video, complete with post-production Elvis music, appearing to show private military contractors in Baghdad shooting Iraqi civilians sparked two investigations after it was posted on the Internet. [20][21][22] The video has been linked unofficially to Aegis Defence Services. According to the posters, the man who is seen shooting vehicles on this video in Iraq was a South African employee of Aegis Victory team named Danny Heydenreycher. He served in the British military for six years. After the incident the regional director for Victory ROC tried to fire Heydenreycher, but the team threatened to resign if he did. As of December 2005, Aegis is conducting a formal inquiry into the issue, although some concerns on its impartiality have been raised."

    Now, im sure incidents like this happen the world over, and not just in PMCs, but who can then police them? is there a governing body?

    Can a PMC ever stage a coup?

    I'm partly assuming these may be the concerns, I mean, can a PMC ever get too powerful?
  11. Sometimes people will serve/fight for a cause they believe in and feel strongly about.

    Its not always about money when it comes to other peoples wars
  12. It is probably unethical for a PMC employee to say in court everything that a tin-pot dictator's security services told him too. However it is probably unwise not to, if you are going back to a prison with a cheery nickname like "House of Death"...
  13. absolutely true:check out Stirling's history.

    however the accusations against Simon Mann, that isnt going to do too much positive PR for these organisations
  14. Re: Simon Mann; there are good mercenaries and bad mercenaries, just as there are efficient accountants and poor ones too. I would hazard a guess that this "coup" was more Wild Geese than Dogs of War...

    Edited to add:
    Frankly this plot owed more to Mad Mike Hoare's abortive 1918 crack at the Seychelles than to the DS solution for a coup from Camberley!
  15. BigDumps

    Check your PMs.