Adam resurfaces to comment on a Canadian article titled “Human Security and the Militarization of Aid Delivery” (via Chris) asking at the end what I think about NGO’s using PMCs. To start, NGOs and UN peacekeeping operations have been using PMCs for, well, decades in ways only subtle to Americans and those not involved in NGOs. In the middle, I disagree with Adam’s blanket statement that “organizational cultures, motivations, and priorities of PMCs and NGOs, are also strikingly different.” If you want to make a buck, don’t start a PMC, start an NGO, fewer people are shooting at you and the profit margins are greater and you’ll be the subject of many cocktail conversations and enjoy side benefits. I also disagree with the assertion that transgressions by PMCs in one theater will bleed over to a host population in another (the global community is another thing, but the people being helped aren’t watching the talking heads). Let’s look at Nepal and their “promise” not to send any of their human rights violators outside the country to don the Blue Helmet (also, think about the criminal behavior of the Dutch at Srebenica years ago). Abuses by PMCs are not inevitable by their nature, organization, or what have you. As I wrote (and published) before, if your concern (the royal You not Adam specifically) is accountability of an armed force, look first at the Blue Helmets. The core issue is this: should NGOs be armed, or should they be accompanied by armed escorts? Generally, no, whether they are soldiers of a state or private. Guns are scary to many of the people in most need and the NGO becomes tainted by a very close proximity with guns. Relational distance is important and can be conducted by anyone.
Bonnie Boyd at the Central Asia Blog linked to my popular post on PRTs. She also observed MountainRunner is a “really good Civil-Military Relations blog”. It’s good to come across another smart and observant blogger… 🙂