PMCs and Security Sector Reform: A Mismatch

Beyond these individual examples of failure, there may be an inherent mismatch in seeking to instill values of professionalism, civic service, and democratic control of security sectors through private (and perhaps mercenary) contractors. In countries where SSR is struggling to confront marketplaces that commodify violence, PMCs represent exactly that—the commoditization of military skills.

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Interview with Alex de Waal

My starting point is that business is politics and politics is business. It would be incorrect and a simplification to say that politics is all about money, because that would imply that politics is all about personal enrichment. My analysis, particularly about the Horn of Africa, but [with] wider resonance and implications in the rest of the world, is that the way the politics and economics function in these societies, politics and business are fused. In order to be a businessperson, you also need to be a politician. In order to run a business, one needs to have certain skills, aptitudes, and capabilities to network and analyze that politicians have. Similarly, to be a politician, one needs to have the abilities that a businessman has.

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“The Political Marketplace”: Developing a Framework for Addressing the Real Politics of Coercion and Corruption

Existing models for peace-making, state-building and stabilization, which assume that “fragile states” can move, under international tutelage and sponsorship, towards capable and legitimate states, are wrong. Peace agreements that consist primarily in allocating rents to belligerents only reinforce the logic of a rent-based political marketplace. Indeed, international efforts to achieve stabilization and state-building by channeling effort and resources through governments are more often counterproductive than not.

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Insights from the Management Theory of the Political Marketplace

Politics is not business, yet the language and lens of the market and decision-making in a competitive environment – the perspective of a business manager – may often provide some of the most helpful vocabulary for describing how politics actually functions around the world. Even more, like al-Qaeda’s heated discussions about hostage-taking as a strategic revenue source, the language of business is often the language that political actors themselves use in describing their actions and the contexts within which they operate.

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International Interventions and the Human Cost of a Militarized Political Marketplace in Chad

I argue that the Chadian political marketplace is characterized by five main patterns: externally-derived rents, the gap between politico-military entrepreneurs and the cheap combatant labor force who participate in “rent-seeking” rebellions, a violent mode of governing associated with a decentralized control over the instruments of coercion, the structural weakness of the civilian opposition trapped between repression and cooptation, and the exclusion of women.

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