As violence spreads in Iraq, many have been stunned by the extensive roles that private firms now are playing in the fighting. In seeking to understand exactly what was going on, ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, The Economist, Fox News, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Los Angeles Times, NPR, PBS, USA Today, and the Washington Post all turn to one source: Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry.
Named among the year’s top five books in international affairs by the Gelber Prize, P.W. Singer’s groundbreaking book from Cornell University Press explores one of the most interesting, but little understood developments in modern warfare. Over the last decade, a global trade in hired military services has emerged. Known as "privatized military firms" (PMFs), these businesses range from small consulting firms, who sell the advice of retired generals, to transnational corporations that lease out wings of fighter jets or battalions of commandos. Such firms number in the hundreds. They have an estimated annual revenue of over $100 billion. And, they presently fill military roles in over fifty countries, including in Afghanistan and Iraq. From recent events in Iraq, where some 15,000 private military contractors work on behalf of the coalition, including the four men brutally killed in an ambush in Fallujah earlier this year, to Latin America, where three American private military contractors have been held captive by Colombian rebels for the last 16 months, to Sub-Saharan Africa, where private military personnel earlier this year were arrested as part of an alleged coup plot in Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea, these firms appear in the world's hotspots and headlines again and again. Yet, until Corporate Warriors, no book has opened up this powerful new industry to the public eye.
Now released in paperback, Corporate Warriors provides the first comprehensive analysis of the private military industry. The book traces the firms’ historic roots in the mercenary outfits of the past and the more recent underlying causes that led to their emergence at the end of the Cold War. In a series of detailed company portraits, Singer then describes how the industry operated and the three sectors within the industry: how military provider firms, like Executive Outcomes, a South African company made up of ex-Apartheid fighters, offer front-line combat services; how military consulting firms, like MPRI, a Virginia-based firm staffed by U.S. Army veterans, provide strategic and military training expertise for clients around the world; and, finally, how military support firms, like Vice President Cheney’s former Halliburton-Brown & Root, carry out multi-billion dollar military logistics and maintenance services, including running the U.S. military’s supply train in Iraq.! In fact, the book’s portrait of how exactly Halliburton got into the lucrative, but now controversial, military support business has served as a resource for investors, reporters, congressional investigators, and soldiers alike.
Singer then explores the many implications of this industry, ranging from their impact on military operations to their possible roles in international peacekeeping. He analyzes how the hopes for economy and efficiency duel with the risks that come from outsourcing the most essential of government functions, that of national security and soldiers’ welfare. The privatization of military services allows startling new capabilities and efficiencies in the way that war is carried out. However, as demonstrated in Iraq, the mix of the profit motive with the fog of war raises a series of troubling questions –for international affairs, for ethics, for management, for civil-military relations, for international law, for human rights, and, ultimately, for democracy. In other words, when it comes to military responsibilities, private companies’ good may not always be to the public good.
Corporate Warriors is a hard-hitting analysis that provides a fascinating first look inside this exciting, but potentially dangerous new industry. Its research has been featured by every single major news outlet in the United States and covered by media over 20 different countries.
Easily accessible to general readers, the book provides a critical but balanced look at the businesses behind the headlines. With the continued expansion and growth of this industry in the coming years, Corporate Warriors will be the essential sourcebook for understanding how the private military industry works and how governments must respond. As one reviewer describes, "Many fine volumes about U.S. foreign policy and world events have been published in recent months. This one is something special. Corporate Warriors might just be a paradigm shift. It may change the way people look at history and analyze current events...a must-read..."
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"After reading this book, it is impossible to see the landscape of insurgencies, civil wars, and inter-state wars the same way again. Peter Singer's book is a rare find: a study of the breakdown of the state monopoly on war that challenges basic assumptions in international relations theory; an exploration of the many different ways in which privatized military firms pose both problems and opportunities for policymakers; and a fascinating read for anyone interested in the changing nature of both international security and international politics."--Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
"A must read for anyone interested in the art of war, Corporate Warriors is a fascinating analysis of a new, often secretive, global industry. Marked by impressive research, this path-breaking study describes a pattern of increasing reliance on private military firms by individuals, corporations, humanitarian groups, governments, and international organizations. This is a masterful book that will appeal to students, scholars, policymakers, and lay readers alike."--Stephanie G. Neuman, Director of the Comparative Defense Studies Program, Columbia UniversityAbout the Author:
P. W. Singer is National Security Fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution and Director of the Brookings Project on U.S. Policy towards the Islamic World. He has served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the International Peace Academy. Singer has been featured in the Atlantic Monthly, the Boston Globe, the Financial Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times. He has also appeared as an expert commentator on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, the Discovery Channel, FOX, NBC, and NPR (including feature interviews on Fresh Air).
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