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Privatising war, re-visited

That Langley made use of Blackwater's Finest in its pursuit of Al Qaeda has given me an excuse to go rooting around in the archives for something pertinent. Plus I am suffering from blogger's block, and have enacted a self-denying ordinance that digging around in the Hansard Klondike is for the afternoon. So, from just under two year ago, The Privatisation of War:

That's what the UN thinks might be happening, and it does not like it at all with Jose Del Prado, Chairman of the working group on the use of mercenaries, putting it thus:

"Since the Working Group’s first report, it had called the Assembly’s attention to the impunity with which the military and private security companies operated, which violated human rights. In zones of armed or post-conflict, the outsourcing of military functions and the supplying of military and security services by transnational companies would lead to the privatization of war. The monopoly on the use of force by the State had been at the basis of national sovereignty for centuries".

As a sidebar, it notes the following, "The visits to various countries had allowed the Working Group to study the emerging manifestations and trends among mercenaries. Those indicated bad working conditions for the mercenaries, including working excess hours, mistreatment and isolation". Erm, I would not have expected a unionised workforce with coffee breaks and so forth, frankly.

Anyway, I would think that full-scale privatisation of warfare would end up with there being rather less of it, and it being a good deal less expensive in terms of life, limb and money, and the experience of the last period of private warfare - 15th century Italy - would seem to bear this out:

"...the rich burghers and merchants of medieval Italy were too busy making money and enjoying life to undertake the hardships and dangers of soldiering themselves. So they adopted the practice of hiring mercenaries to do their fighting for them, and, being thrifty, businesslike folk, they dismissed these mercenaries immediately after their services could be dispensed with. Wars were, therefore, fought by armies hired for each campaign. . . . For the first time, soldiering became a reasonable and comparatively harmless profession. The generals of that period manoeuvred against each other, often with consummate skill, but when one had won the advantage, his opponent generally either retreated or surrendered. It was a recognised rule that a town could only be sacked if it offered resistance. Immunity could always he purchased by paying a ransom.... As one natural consequence, no town ever resisted, it being obvious that a government too weak to defend its citizens had forfeited their allegiance. Civilians had little to fear from the dangers of war which were the concern only of professional soldiers." Veale, quoted by Rothbard in 'The Anatomy of the State'.

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Anonymous puzzled of nether wallop said... 3:49 pm

Yours truly was taking his morning constitutional on Plashy Fen only the other day and having a good old think about this global warming business we are all supposed to be jolly concerned about these days.

Then it came to me! It's cattle - ahem - dropping one.


Then, as is my custom, I had an inspired idea! My first port of call was Mr Patel at his Nether Wallop Mini-Market (serving Nether Wallop since 1984).

'Do you have any balloons' I asked questioningly.

'Most assuredly' Mr Patel replied. 'They are left over from the summer fete at Nether Wallop C of E JM&I. Will you take the lot for a fiver?'

'Maybe' I replied and headed off to see Farmer Giles. Now Farmer Giles is living proof of the inadvisability of generationally serial matrimony with one's first cousin.

Parish records show that the last instance of an ancestor of Farmer Giles NOT marrying their first cousin was in 896 when Eggnog the Priapic dragged Apfelstrudel to the hymeneal altar.

But I digress.

'Farmer Giles!' I exclaimed on reaching my destination. 'How would you like to do your bit to stop global warming and make a few bob in the process?'

'Oooh! Arr!' and similarly stereotypical noises he replied.

'Well if we could collect the methane from your cows' botty burps and sell it to the gas utility, we could make a pile' I explained while deploying my most winning smile.

'Oooh? Arr?' responded Farmer Giles.

'We simply attach balloons to their - er - bottoms and pull them out and tie a knot when they are nice and full. I can deal with that - er - end of the business. Then off to the utility company'. I explained helpfully.

'OOH! ARR!' he exclaimed angrily. 'No-one touches my cow's rear ends except me!'

Idiot! Could have made a fortune!  

Blogger James Higham said... 5:57 pm

Plus I am suffering from blogger's block, and have enacted a self-denying ordinance that digging around in the Hansard Klondike is for the afternoon.

Well, I msut admit that this would have been my advice. We were talking today of your Hansard Deepcaptcha.  

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