Blackwater by Hilton and Hamm

Blackwater by Hilton and Hamm - PRIVATE MILITARY...

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PRIVATE MILITARY CONTRACTORS By: Robert A. Hilton and Michael B. Hamm Dr. R. James Sacouman Sociology 2563X2 April 6 2010
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The implementation of private military contractors in warzones is a controversial issue in global politics. While institutions who make use of private military organizations can point to the benefits of their involvement in conflicts, great amounts of opposition exist in both local regions and the international community. Military contractors are commonly referred to as mercenaries, and providing an objective definition of these operatives and their actions is a complex task. South Africa’s “Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act” of 1977 defines mercenary activity as “direct participation as a combatant in armed conflict for private gain” (“OAU” 5). The Geneva Convention, a United Nations document, defines a mercenary as any person who “is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict, who does, in fact, take a direct part in the hostilities, is motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain, or material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks in the armed forces” (“United Nations” 6). Private military contractors primarily consist of ex-Special Forces, former Navy Seals, and retired military soldiers. Experience in combat situations is usually seen as a prerequisite for employment Officially civilians, these elite, highly-trained, battle-hardened cadres can potentially earn well over six figures a year in annual salary, several times more than their enlisted counterparts. For the sake of our argument, we shall define a mercenary as a military-trained operative with civilian status; separate from pre-existing parties in an established conflict, who participates directly in military combat operations, for private interests and personal financial gain. The nature of the mercenary and recent controversies involving mercenary groups has raised many debates in both local communities and international organizations. A fundamental question in the debate about contractors amongst opponents to their usage is as follows – should we seek to eliminate any usage of private military contractors, or make concerted efforts to harness their
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growth and power in lesser developed nations? Can a ‘middle of the road’ arrangement be reached which will satisfy the concerns of anti-mercenary movements both locally and internationally, or will the legislature serve to appease the public while contractors still operate unethically, their crimes going largely unnoticed? The purpose of this essay is to examine a range of social movements rising against the usage of private military contractors, the obstacles they face, and the successes they have achieved ranging from local to international levels.
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