Mercenary Humanism

What an extraordinary piece of twisted thinking this ad represents — it belongs in genocide museums.

This advertisement from mid-2007 was prominently featured in the opening pages of the Journal for International Peace Operations (JIPO), a journal of the International Peace Operations Association (IPOA) — “The Association of the Stability Operations Industry” — which is essentially the representative body for a collection of mercenary military corporations, also referred to as “private military companies,” or even more obscurely as “private security contractors.” Yes, those who bring us scandalous massacres of civilians; torture; crimes against civilian detainees; right-wing religious zealotry and crusader bloodsports; not to mention drunken homoerotic orgies on embassy compounds — are not in it for a buck, it is their “selfless commitment and compassion” that takes them to societies curiously reduced/referred to all as “downrage” (i.e., where the targets are). Apparently Blackwater’s sense of compassion came with an expiry date: it is no longer a member of IPOA. Its profiteering angling for Defence and CIA contracts is, of course, limitless.

Within IPOA we find one Audrey Roberts, an assistant editor for JIPO, author of a few articles on the Human Terrain System within its pages (here and here), and a research associate. She was employed by the Human Terrain System. The very organization, some of whose researchers scoffed at being called “mercenary anthropologists,” are right there, ensconced among mercenaries.

“Mercenary anthropologists,” one critic called them. “The Army’s new secret weapon,” another said.

Ridenour, Bhatia and the others read them aloud with frustration and laughter.

“Our school of thought was ‘come work with us for a week,’ ” Ridenour said. “If you really think I’m a mercenary, come see what we do.”

Still, Bhatia bridled at the criticism. (source)

Interestingly prioritized sense of values. Some might “bridle” more at the way “stability,” “peace,” “humanitarianism,” and “peace keeping” have been flooded with the toxic pollution of mercenary sales pitches and new “humanist” arguments for military intervention. But then again, that would require understanding what is being said, and then caring about it.

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl

12 thoughts on “Mercenary Humanism

  1. andreeazugravu

    Poor written article and weak arguments. People like you, in search for the sensationalism, unqualified to tackle subjects they’ve embarked on, contribute to the unprofessional ism of the media.

    If you really want to know more about this industry, read David Isenberg or Peter Singer. They are professional researchers who have followed this industry for years and whose rhetoric goes beyond cheap, and unimpressive statements.


    1. Maximilian Forte

      In other words, you must try to understand as little as possible, and care even less, or else your world falls apart.

      …and it’s not like you have any vested interest in this.

      By the way, was my “weak argument” and unprofessionalism responsible for creating that outrageous ad above?

      I have other recommendations: people who want to learn more should read Jeremy Scahill, Pratap Chatterjee, Robert Young Pelton, or any of the countless testimonials of the innocent civilians victims of these mercenaries.

      5 Witnesses Insist Iraqis Didn’t Fire On Guards

      Wounded Iraqis: ‘No one did anything’ to provoke Blackwater

      Blackwater incident witness: ‘It was hell’

      Iraqi Report Says Blackwater Guards Fired First

  2. Pingback: CIA Feminism « ZERO ANTHROPOLOGY

  3. ishtar enana

    Dear Maximilian Forte,

    I think you are doing a great job. I have been involved for the last 7 years (of Iraq Occupation) in tracing mercenaries and war profiteers ; in fact, in following this track I have come across your website today – sorry for the delay. I was tracing news about Issa Salomi who was freed today, when I found “Zeroanthoropology”.

    I believe, we are doing the same thing, though my efforts are printed in Arabic. I am an Iraqi female investigative writer, Ishtar enana is not my real name.

    Throughout my investigations I have come to a very important conclusion, or shall we say, “pattern of profiteering”. But I am sure you have reached the same conclusion. Senior Military leaders help bomb one country back into the Jungle ages, then retire, go on boards of mercenary security companies, go back to the same destroyed- beyond -repair country and help with pillage and spoil. They profit from the ruins of life and property. for example, General Anthony Zinni. He is now on board of Dyncorp, the infamous corporation which has been involved in human trafficking, drug, torture, and many shadowy deeds. I have a list of all such US once respected generals who have turned into mercenaries.

    CIA and Special Forces retirees do the same thing turning into mercenaries with companies like Blackwater and others.

    What is this? Is it the New World Order? It is the order of the Guard turned into Thief.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Many thanks Ishtar, very much appreciated, and your own efforts are especially needed. That is exactly right, that is their “new world order” which they seek to impose on the rest of us, and once the “kinder, gentler” propaganda of “winning hearts and minds” evaporates, you see the reality of brutality, murder, and destruction. On this side of the planet, the elites and their servants (junior people hoping for jobs in that system) seem completely unaware of the butchery to which they have subjected Iraq for nearly 20 straight years, the merciless bludgeoning of a weaker nation, unforgiving in their ruthless destruction of another country. Not with a 1,000 more 911’s will they even begin to pay an appropriate price for their greed, gluttony, and bloodthirsty hatred.

  4. Pingback: Blackwater’s Mercenary Humanism [The Primate Diaries]

  5. Pig Monkey

    I agree that any claim of humanist motivation on the part of PMCs is silly. They, like any other corporation, are in business to make money. But I’m not convinced that that makes them incapable of doing any good. Executive Outcomes seemed to do a decent job in Sierra Leone of stopping the RUF from cutting off genitals/hands.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Executive Outcomes was even better at doing good for itself. This is the same company that ran an illegal arms trade into South Africa, during the boycott against the apartheid regime. Its founder, Luther Barlow, was involved in fighting against South Africa’s neighbours. It was great at protecting African mineral resources.

      The more important point is that even when institutional armies tied to the state are hardly ever accountable to the public, such PMCs never are.

  6. Pingback: Wednesday Round Up #109 « Neuroanthropology

  7. andreeazugravu

    And Scahill didn’t make a lot of money by publishing a book slashing others?

    You say private security companies(PSCs) are not accountable to anyone and they can not engage in humanitarian actions but I ask you whom are the humanitarian NGOs accountable to?

    The unfairness you’re doing to the industry lies in the fact that you are taking only 10% of what the industry is and bashing on all the others. PSCs do not operate in a void, unaccountable to anyone. They are supporting governments and is there’s a problem with them, it’s the responsibility of who is paying them for oversight and accountability.

    Many PSCs have understood the necessity for accountability, transparency and a good code of conduct and have joined individual associations: the US-based IPOA and the UK – BAPSC. PSCs are not all Blackwater and the point I’m trying to make is to see the futility of trying to ban these companies and actually work on designing the proper system where they might even prove humanitarian.


    1. Maximilian Forte

      So Scahill made money publishing a book? And? Did it kill people indiscriminately?

      To whom are humanitarian NGOs accountable, you ask. First, I thought we were speaking of PMCs. But in any case, I am also very critical of the many NGOs whose accountability is often to no one but themselves.

      Back to PMCs, you say, “it’s the responsibility of who is paying them for oversight and accountability” — agreed.

      “the futility of trying to ban these companies” — I don’t see anything futile about it. Once we start pressuring our governments more, and boycotting the corporations that hire them, it will be the formation of PMCs that may become futile.

Comments are closed