Privatising Protection

April 29th, 2009 at 10:10 am by David Farrar

Privatising Protection is the name of the second article written by about the use of mercenaries. I’ve uploaded a copy of it – privatising-protection.

This one was written three years after the 1998 “Outsourcing War” article – in 2001.

What is really interesting is that in 2001 he was an Adviser to the New Zealand Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. And who was that? of course.

Now I have worked in a Ministerial office. I find it hard to believe you could be an advisor to the Foreign Minister, and submit an article to Chatham House on private military forces without the Minister giving it an okay. The article is summarised by Chatham House as:

When people in the world’s conflict zones need protecting, it is the United Nations which is most frequently charged with ‘doing something’. Often short of soldiers, it should be given another option, to call on professional military companies to provide human security – for a fee.

Pretty clear – advocates the UN hiring private mercenary armies. But as the NZ Herald reports, Phil Goff said just two years later:

Mr Goff conversely referred to mercenary work as “paid murder” in 2003, when introducing legislation banning mercenaries.

So did Goff know of the article before publication? If so, how does he reconcile it with his statement in 2003?

I give full kudos to David Shearer who is not resiling from his views:

He said he was still supportive of using private security forces for peacekeeping as a last resort.

“If you have got a situation where thousands of people are being mutilated and it’s your only option, then your first priority is the protection of women and children.”

I agree with Shearer. But Shearer has also advocated that they may have a useful role in countries with civil wars. He said:

As a result states’ monopoly on dealing with civil violence has persisted unchallenged.

So Labour argue the state has to be a monopoly in corrections and workplace accident insurance, but their likely candidate says there should be no state monopoly in dealing with civil violence or the military.

Now I agree with Shearer, but I can imagine it is going to be very uncomfortable for Labour when he is an MP.  Everytime Goff or King gets up to accuse the Government of having a agenda, the Nats will laugh and remind them that they have an MP who supports privatising the army. And when you consider Labour’s entire strategy is to basically label everything National does is as , well Naional can’t wait until Shearer is an MP. Hell, they are probably tempted to endorse him themselves.

I mean look at his free market logic here:

Many factions are increasingly motivated by economic gain through the control of diamonds, gold or minerals. Why not award the concession to a company that will mine and protect the resource, thereby keeping diamonds out of the hands of rebels who will sell them to finance their war?

I love it – profit sharing with the mercenaries. This guy understands free markets and incentives and best of all has no ideological opposition to them. He sure is no Helen Clark.

Of course not being a woman may harm him. The Herald reported:

The Service and Food Workers Union’s northern region secretary, Jill Ovens, said the affiliated unions would not be endorsing any particular Labour candidate.

She said her personal view was that it should be a woman, as Labour no longer had a female electorate MP in Auckland with the departure of Helen Clark.

That is true – they don’t. Cunliffe, Carter, Hawkins, Robertson Goff and Su’a hold the other seats.

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23 Responses to “Privatising Protection”

  1. goodgod (1,363 comments) says:

    Contradiction is nothing new to the former Minister of Defence and disarmament. :shock:

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  2. racer (258 comments) says:

    “I find it hard to believe you could be an advisor to the Foreign Minister, and submit an article to Chatham House on private military forces without the Minister giving it an okay”

    Goff’s statement in 2003 tends to suggest otherwise.

    “So Labour argue the state has to be a monopoly in corrections and workplace accident insurance, but their likely Mt Albert candidate says there should be no state monopoly in dealing with civil violence or the military.”

    Kind of like how John Key intends (I assume?) too keep the law against sodomy despite their coalition partner believing it is acceptable in some circumstances.

    “I love it – profit sharing with the mercenaries. This guy understands free markets and incentives and best of all has no ideological opposition to them. He sure is no Helen Clark.”

    Most of Labour, I suspect, understand free markets, and rather than ideological opposition they far more likely have academic opposition to them (I know, no such think on kiwiblog), but this doesn’t make nearly as good a bogey man.

    [DPF: Consensual sodomy has not been illegal since 1986]

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  3. unaha-closp (1,157 comments) says:

    DPF,

    Since you’ve started promoting David Shearer the candidate I think it is only fair if you divulge now what exactly is your relationship to the Labour Party or Mr Shearer.

    u-c, Mt Albert

    PS – you’ve damn near convinced me of his worthiness.

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  4. David Farrar (1,883 comments) says:

    As far as I know I have never met David Shearer. I thought I may have through Red Cross, but not sure if he actually worked for them or not.

    As for Labour, I just want them to become more moderate and sensible.

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  5. racer (258 comments) says:

    “[DPF: Consensual sodomy has not been illegal since 1986]”

    Opps, in future I shall just refer to it as arse raping, that gets the point across fine.

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  6. RightNow (6,968 comments) says:

    Well thanks for clearing that up racer, I get your point of view now. You would like John Key to repeal any law against arse raping.

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  7. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    heh I like the cut of this fellas gib he seems to be ane example of the sort we need in the Parliament.

    And refering to my post on banning political parties in this event Shearer wouldnt be tied to the Socialists doctrine and could propose and vote as he and his electorate saw fit.

    Now wouldnt that be a novelty Actually having a person in the Parliament who promoted what you the citizen wanted instead of what their Party partly made up of unelected List MPs decided to force down your throat.

    Trouble is we have mover so far from real democracy to the cardboard cutout version we have today very few understand the principles of Mps carrying out the wishes of the citizens

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  8. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    Would a UN-hired mercenary army be used to supplement the armed forces of UN member countries, or used instead of them?

    The UN being a co-operation between sovereign member nations, it seems to be that if the UN resolves armed force is needed to depose X or protect Y, and member nations are prepared to go in and do it, then that is one thing.

    But it seems quite different if the UN hires its own army and starts acting like a nation of its own by invading and occupying people. Does NZ really want to get roped into a War between the UN Security Council and “The Axis of Evil”???

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  9. Ross Miller (1,686 comments) says:

    Watching Goff making a fool of himself in the House yesterday over this was kinda instructive.

    The body language from Labour said it all.

    Invitations to BBQs at ……. and ……. and ……. are in the mail.

    Or perhaps for the Labour Left it’s fish and chips and Lion Red.

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  10. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Would a UN-hired mercenary army be used to supplement the armed forces of UN member countries, or used instead of them?

    Sounds like Shearer’s more keen on using them for peacekeeping…

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  11. MT_Tinman (3,093 comments) says:

    I wonder if Mr Shearer was, at the time, contemplating the acts of his own party approximately ten years earlier when they refused to assist the legally elected head of a neighboring democracy (and leader of a fellow Labour Party) when he asked for military intervention from NZ to uphold that democracy.

    Timothy Bavandra would have been better served by mercenaries.

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  12. Grant Michael McKenna (1,158 comments) says:

    Having worked as a contractor in Liberia and Sierra Leone several times in the early 1990s, helping train Nigerian troops deployed there, I must say that the idea has more than a bit of merit. The corruption of UN operations is simply amazing.

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  13. jackp (668 comments) says:

    Organisations like Blackwater are nothing but hired thugs. Bush used them in Iraq and in New Orleans when he could have saved millions by using the regular army. He was friends with the ceo of the company. They were going broke before 911 and suddenly they are making millions. The US didn’t need them but Bush wanted to return political favours. Words can’t say how discusting these assholes are with their arrogance and blood thirsty murdering techniques. Regular army are different, war is war but when you get these guys in, then it is just plane murder.

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  14. Lawrence Hakiwai (119 comments) says:

    Very cunning DPF, this story will have every Green-leaning voter in Mount Albert very worried. “Private armies battling freedom fighters” that thought alone will mobilise the left-wing fringe to action.

    There is no downside as well as Shearer seems perfectly sensible so if he holds onto Mount Albert for Labour the country gains an MP who has seen war and knows what needs to be done. Not someone who lives in a “benign strategic environment” delusion.

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  15. Komata (1,160 comments) says:

    As an adjunct to the UN using mercenaries, I would suggest that a reading of the April 2009 Investigate magazine should be a priority – specifically the article on the socialist international’s unpublicised agenda concrning the UN, and exactly how Dear Leader (a senior member – naturally), fits into their scheme of things.

    IMHO the article is quite revealing and would seem to indicate that the use of ‘mercenaries’ fits in very nicely with the socialist internationals’ agenda.

    Given what is in the article, the viewpoint concerning the use of ‘private armies’ for peacekeping roles that Mr Shearer espouses and his return and candidacy for Mt Albert, may not in fact be as ‘coincidental’ as some might like to think, and I wonder if DL’s shadowy hand is somehow involved (should we be surprised if it is?)

    Just a thought that others might like to follow-up on. . .

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  16. thedavincimode (6,606 comments) says:

    careful ‘biter. you’re making sense.

    how can dispensing death and other lifestyle inconveniences on the basis of some perceived moral, ethical or humanitarian high ground, be subcontracted or delegated to a private organisation, and thereby sever the direct link of accountability, responsibility and moral and ethical authority for assuming that high ground?

    its the same as privatisation of prisons. its the STATE (ie us) that deprives freedom and WE are directly responsible.

    these notions are all founded in the naive notion that without exception, private = good; public = fucked. the reality is that its the quality of the people and process that counts, and those people include politicians pulling the levers. there are private drivers for efficiency that cannot be replicated in a public context (such as pressure for returns on equity). but it doesn’t follow that direct public/state involvement cannot be sufficiently efficient to avoiding abrogating direct moral responsibility.

    FFS, hasn’t anyone watched Highlander III – its a true story.

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  17. reid (16,213 comments) says:

    Privatisation of mercenaries is completely different to prisons.

    The issue with mercenaries are as you say above plus the fact we lose control the minute they enter the field which risks reputational and physical damage and consequence.

    However prisons are not a moral issue in the same way. Not at all.

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  18. thedavincimode (6,606 comments) says:

    Reid, I think it is. Its deprivation of liberty and other stuff happens. If it was just a matter of keeping people under lock and key, then maybe.

    But as we all know, when we sentence people to prison, we are sentencing them to a prospect of a slap in the chops or a todger up the rump (particularly if you’re as good looking as borker evidently is). We might not lose any sleep in some cases, but the fact remains that if we’re fine with that, then their sentence should actually explicitly provide for it. We might all feel no pain when we hear for example, what happened to Dixon. We might all do a triple lindy with a back flip, but the fact remains that in depriving someone of their liberty, then unless we actually sentence them to a pork enema, we are morally obliged to ensure their safety, like it or not. If we don’t deal with people from a position of moral authority, then I just think it lowers the tone. The fact that we already sentence people knowing what might happen doesn’t change things. It just means we’re not being honest with ourselves and we have lost our moral authority.

    That’s why I struggle with the private thing and, in the context of a prison, why we can’t try to apply the major ADVANTAGES of private sector efficiency without abrogating our direct accountability. The mere fact that equity market pressures exist doesn’t make an activity inherently efficient. Its what happens operationally that does this. NZ’s history in the meat industry is a shining example in this respect.

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  19. reid (16,213 comments) says:

    Well we’re not abrogating our direct accountability. Any private prison is subject to the same rules as a public one.

    The prison violence you mention I personally wish we as a society refused to tolerate but we haven’t yet as a society reached that particular enlightenment so the question is given that, how do you eliminate it? One answer is segregation by temperament and another is universal 24/7 unbeatable surveillance everywhere combined with really harsh penalty for any assault, like another 5 years of time inside for even minor to medium assaults.

    The point, we tolerate prison violence right now inside our state-owned prisons, so why should we expect a private sector operator to eliminate it inside of theirs?

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  20. libertyscott (359 comments) says:

    Jill Ovens is an Alliance retard, so it is hardly surprising she isn’t endorsing a Labour candidate.

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  21. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,831 comments) says:

    Where is the chink in this David Shearer character’s armour? So far all we’ve heard is that he is nothing like Helen Clark and her followers. What’s not to like about that?

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  22. libertyscott (359 comments) says:

    It may be Goff’s cunning plan, National and ACT people might vote for him. Rather him than the Greens winning it, help to start turning the Labour caucus into one of imaginative hard working thinkers who have been out in the real world. Labour needs more people who aren’t teachers and unionists.

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  23. thedavincimode (6,606 comments) says:

    Reid, I’m talking about DIRECT accountability; ie not interposing a third party contractual relationship between the State and its “customers”. Yes, and before you say it, I know that the current model is flawed by contractual issues as the recent Corrections shambles demonstrated. Otherwise a certain arse would have whistled out the door on double time. But that only highlights issues with employment legislation and the person and contract concerned. It also raises questions about the capabilities of others in the chain of mismanagement. It doesn’t mean the job can’t be done better without privatisation.

    The third party contractor provides too much opportunity for the blame game. It allows politicians to avoid responsibility for confronting all sorts of issues, including violence, by fobbing off them off on the basis of it being a contractual issues “our hands are tied … blah … blah … blah.”

    And I agree that in a nirvana where we didn’t have these issues, then we ought not to have a problem with contracting out. But until we address those issues, then I just think that the State must stand directly behind and be accountable for what goes on in prisons and we can’t do that if we sub the job out. How we fix those issues – god knows. We put some pretty violent people in those places and its hard to have any sympathy for them. A good starting point is for the public generally to acknowledge that what happens isn’t acceptable. But every morning we pick up the paper and the notion that these customers get what they deserve is reinforced. Its an issue that requires political leadership and hopeful the issue that I struggle with will be debated. But one thing is for sure, it won’t be debated by the flipflopposition who will simply bang away off subject.

    As to your last point, it follows that if privatisation per se was the solution, then lets do it. But our inability to solve the problem doesn’t justify us becoming one more step removed from accountability.

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