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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South African Arms Deal Commission Compromised: testimony of Hennie Van Vuuren

Commissioners, I am now faced with a difficult choice. How should I respond to your subpoena?

I am mindful of the fact that the arms deal has wrought havoc on the lives of ordinary South Africans and corrupted our politics for the past 15 years. It has profited international arms corporations while weakening our democratic state institutions. It has profited the rich at the expense of the poor.

I am also mindful that the cover-up that followed the arms deal has put in place a system of patronage with the purpose of keeping alleged corrupt elites out of prison. It allows them to continue benefiting from the spoils of an unequal society. I have regretfully come to the conclusion that this Commission will provide no remedy to this situation.

For these reasons, I can no longer in good conscience participate in a hearing of the Arms Procurement Commission.

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Is the United States in an Arms Race with Itself?

This is a lesson in recycling, that the United States government and defense industry have been slow to learn, and the result could look something like an arms race that the United States is waging with itself, in which it provides proxy groups or allies with arms and training. These proxy groups re-form and radicalize or the weapons fall into the hands of groups labeled as terrorists by the United States. In response, the United States invests large amounts of money in military technology to combat terrorism and provides yet more arms to groups that assist it in fighting terrorism globally.

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