I’ve read enough suggestions along these lines on mostly libertarian blogs that I really felt the need to comment. Some people are suggesting private military organizations to resolve the situation in Darfur:
THREE YEARS OF FIGHTING in the Darfur region of Sudan have left an estimated 180,000 dead and nearly 2 million refugees. In recent weeks, both the UN and the US have turned up the volume of their demands to end the violence (which the Bush administration has publicly called genocide), but they’ve been hard pressed to turn their exhortations into action. The government in Khartoum has scuttled the UN’s plans to take control of the troubled peacekeeping operations currently being led by the African Union, and NATO recently stated publicly that a force of its own in Darfur is ”out of the question.” Meanwhile, refugee camps and humanitarian aid workers continue to be attacked, and the 7,000 African Union troops remain overstretched and ineffective.
But according to J. Cofer Black, vice chairman of the private security firm Blackwater, there is another option that ought to be on the table: an organization that could commit significant resources and expertise to bolster the African Union peacekeepers and provide emergency support to their flagging mission.
A few weeks ago, at an international special forces conference in Jordan, Black announced that his company could deploy a small rapid-response force to conflicts like the one in Sudan. ”We’re low cost and fast,” Black said, ”the question is, who’s going to let us play on their team?”
No. No. No!
Nearly 400 years ago Europeans met in desperation to solve a problem: war without end; war everywhere; war against everyone. The solution they came up with led to modern nation-states. States have a monopoly on military force.
The problems with abandoning that monopoly are numerous:
- anyone can playIf you’ve got the cash, you, too, can have your own private army! Not everybody with the cash shares your benevolence or, indeed, any of your goals.
- it invites reprisal in kindA mercenary army invades Sudan (or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or Colombia). People sympathetic to the Sudanese government (or the Sauds or the Colombian government) send in their own mercenaries (not nearly as scrupulous as yours) who go after lots of people—including people who had nothing whatever to do with invading Sudan (or KSA or Colombia).
- there are no limits or controls
These anarcho-collectivist/anarcho-syndicalist fantasies could well lead to disaster. We don’t have war everywhere without limits against everyone because states have a monopoly on military force.
No, the alternatives are either the nation-state or globalization. Government requires consensus to function and world government requires world consensus. And, European fantasies notwithstanding, there just isn’t world consensus right now. If there’s one thing we should have learned over the last five years it’s that there isn’t world consensus right now. The Mohammed cartoon controversy in which people actually died should be enough to be that beyond reasonable doubt.
For Americans the shape of such a world government would be intolerable: nearly every freedom that Americans take for granted and that have enabled America’s success would be abandoned. America is the outlier. The consensus view would be very, very different than ours.
For right now we’re stuck with nations.
And on Darfur there are only three alternatives: avert our eyes, U. S. military intervention, or entertain the romantic fantasy that someone somehow somewhere will arrive at a magical solution. Obviously, the Hollywood folks are going for the fantasy. Stick to what you know.
UPDATE: I see that Michael Reynolds, who attended the rally for Darfur in DC over the weekend, is on roughly the same page as I am.