05 October 2007

Ways of Picturing our Mercenaries (2)

In The New York Times today you can find this graphic giving some indication of the explosion in our reliance on mercenaries over the past half-decade. I have posted before on alternative ways of depicting our mercenaries. This particular graphic is the work of a NYC-based design outfit called Omnivore.

This graphic accompanies an OpEd essay on the topic. The author, Allison Stranger, seems to be significantly more snaguine about this phenomenon that are the researchers I have cited in earlier posts. So, for instance, P.W. Singer notes that it is not just matters of oversight (which are easy to peddle in some innocuous, abstract form) that are important. There is the probably unavoidable difficulty that the incentives of mercenaries performing the tasks they contract for might lead them to adoppt attitudes ot take actions that undermine our foreign policy or military objectives. And there are, as David Luban notes, massive problems in specifying accountability mechanisms to keep mercenaries in check.

Stranger does note that while BushCo have gone whole hog in this respect, the trend started with Bill Clinton. What is Hilary's view on this matter? I don't know. Democrats ought to pin her down on this before handing over the nomination.



Anonymous Dawei from Beijing said...

I thought the graphic displays total "growth in federal contracts." Private security companies are a minuscule percentage of that.

I'm not convinced that hiring private security companies to protect our diplomats is such a terrible idea. In fact I suspect part of the rationale in hiring them is that they exist in a legal black hole which thus allows them to protect our people will less discretion and hesitation. Don't forget that the threat to diplomats is very real; just look at what happened to the Polish ambassador.

05 October, 2007 17:10  
Anonymous Dawei from Beijing said...

PS. isn't HIllary Clinton essentially neo-con lite? Why do people think her foreign policy will be any less "muscular" than the current administration's?

05 October, 2007 17:52  

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