The author (scholar at CATO) makes a case for private peacekeeping and shows
cases, where it worked very cheaply and well. At the original article (URL
below) you can find active hyperlinks. Enjoy!

Radovan Kacin
Society for Legal and Economic Education
Czech Republic

Take the Dogs of War, Please!
by David Isenberg
Thursday, June 15, 2000

 To paraphrase Ben Franklin's celebrated remark about hanging, there is
nothing like barbarous, monstrous, depraved wartime atrocities to cause
people to question their assumptions. Case in point: Sierra Leone. Consider
that just a few years ago writers in leftist publications like The Nation
were denouncing the emergence of private military companies (PMCs). Groups
such as the now disbanded Executive Outcomes of South Africa, Sandline of
England and Military Professionals Resources Inc. in the United States were
derided as collections of bloodthirsty racist mercenaries with a corporate
veneer, tools of imperialist multinational corporations, or covert arms of
first-world governments.
Now, however, the times are changing. More observers are recalling that back
in 1995 and 1996 Executive Outcomes, with an initial deployment of only 160
men, handily defeated Foday Sankoh's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in the
field in Sierra Leone and forced them to the negotiation table.
Today, though, op-eds and commentary calling for the use of PMCs have
recently run in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and ABC News.
Even the British journalist William Shawcross, a bleeding heart if ever
there was one, commented in his recent book, Deliver Us From Evil, on the
effectiveness of U.N. peacekeeping operations. "At a time when Western
governments were more and more reluctant to commit their own troops,
especially in Africa, it seemed to me that, under private control, private
armies such as Executive Outcomes could play an increasingly useful role,"
he wrote.

Lessons learned

Because much of the reporting on what Executive Outcomes (EO) and Sandline
did in Sierra Leone has been inaccurate, it is important to detail what
actually happened.
EO was originally hired by the Sierra Leone government in 1995 to deploy 160
of its personnel from May 1995 to March 1996 to defeat the RUF, whose
trademark signature is chopping off the hands and arms of helpless
civilians. After training up company-sized contingents of the military and
enlisting the support of the Kamajors, EO provided the leadership,
helicopters and fire support necessary to prosecute a successful war against
the RUF. By late 1995, the siege of the capital, Freetown, was over and RUF
headquarters to the east had been destroyed. Diamond-mining areas and
mineral concessions had been liberated (thus depriving the RUF of crucial
income), which led to the initiation of peace talks between the government
and the RUF in February 1996 -- at the same time that Ahmad Kabbah was
elected president.
Unfortunately, Kabbah terminated EO's contract , effective January 1997,
though EO was previously informed that the earliest its contract would be
terminated would be March 1997. Contract termination was supposed to be
dependent on the timely deployment of a U.N. observer mission, but that
never happened. Ironically, EO warned that its premature departure would
leave the way open for a successful coup within 100 days. As it turned out,
the coup occurred 95 days after EO left, leaving Sierra Leone in the hands
of a brutal military-rebel regime.
Anarchy and brutality ensued, with prolonged fighting between the regional
ECOMOG forces of the Economic Community of West African States led by
Nigeria. In February 1998 ECOMOG launched an attack that finally led to the
collapse of the junta and its expulsion from Freetown. Kabbah returned to
office in March.
At that time another PMC, the U.K.-headquartered Sandline, made news in the
so-called "Arms to Africa" affair. For reasons that are still
incomprehensible, officials in the British government claimed that Sandline
had illegally supplied weapons, in violation of a U.N. embargo, and other
military assistance to Kabbah. As it turned out, the charges were baseless.
Not only had Sandline's activities been entirely lawful, but it had kept the
government fully informed of its activities.
Nevertheless, in the ensuing security void there was an unseemly rush
unseemly to get a peace agreement, the flawed Lome accords, which allowed
the RUF to assume posts in the government and to regroup, rearm and renew
With the advantage of hindsight it is obvious that the operations of EO were
remarkably effective. The government of Sierra Leone hired the EO, which won
the war in less than two years. Its entire operation cost around $36
million, and its total deployment of people in the country at one time did
not exceed 250. Compare that to the 13,000 authorized troops and $3 million
a day that the United Nations is currently spending on its UNAMSIL force in
Sierra Leone. And EO's casualties were minimal. Unlike the U.N., the rebels
never captured its forces.

The logical choice

What lessons can the world take from the experience in Sierra Leone? And
what does it say about the viability of PMCs?
First, the countries that are most able to effectively intervene in
conflicts today are also those that are least inclined to do so.
Second, the U.N. system for keeping or making peace is broken. It relies on
a flawed system: using volunteers that are less trained, poorly armed,
indifferently motivated, poorly coordinated and diversely equipped and that
tend to come from the poorest countries. (The U.N. pays $1,000 a day per
soldier, which does not even begin to cover the cost of a highly trained
first-world soldier.)
Third, private military companies fill the void between doing nothing and
doing something badly. Unlike conventional military forces, they can deploy
faster, operate more professionally, act more decisively and cost
substantially less. They use highly trained personnel who are veterans of
the world's finest militaries, and their quality is higher than typical
contributing states to a U.N. mission. And, most importantly, they have a
willingness to accept substantially more risk than normal multinational
It is true that reliance on PMCs is not the optimal solution. Long-term
stability is dependent on numerous social, political and economic factors,
which a PMC cannot effect. But if you do not first have security, none of
those other things can happen.
Of course, in an ideal world PMCs would be unneeded. Of course, in an ideal
world we wouldn't have war, poverty, hunger or disease either. In the
meantime if it is a choice between doing nothing or sending Jesse Jackson to
renegotiate a flawed agreement he helped create and sending a PMC, I'll go
with the PMC.

David Isenberg is an analyst at DynMeridian. He is also an adjunct scholar
at the Cato Institute and an associate fellow at the Matthew B.Ridgway
Center for International Security Studies at the University of
Pittsburgh.The views expressed here are his own. He is a regular commentator

 Related Links
The Washington Post asks: Should We Privatize The Peacekeeping? ABC News
also examines the issue. The Nation looks deep at commercialization of
military while this link puts into focus: privatizing military training. A
recent book review in The Stars and Stripes, observes UN peacekeeping
forces. The Christian Science Monitor reports on the new mercenaries. is a service mark of and part of the
VoxCap Network.

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