L'État, c'est moi
Global Guerillas has a piece about the 'mercenary industry', continuing its focus on 4th Generation Warfare. It says the proliferation of private security agencies in Iraq "serves as yet another sign of the return of the pre-Westphalian warfare" and advises watching the documentary "Shadow Company" by Nick Bicanic and Jason Bourque, which has solid interviews with industry insiders/pundits/analysts like Robert Young Pelton, Doug Brooks, and Peter Singer" as an introduction into the phenomenon. Chester has been on the subject of privatized warfare before. He wondered whether the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision didn't go some way towards putting nonstate combatants on par with states. He wrote in an essay for Pajamas Media that:
Hamdan’s main focus was trial by military commission, but one of its most important side-effects is that it seems to grant a recognition to a non-state organization without territory, an identifiable system of government, and lacking any legal mechanism capable of ratifying the Geneva Convention. Yet it is covered by the Geneva Convention. One must ask what other types of non-state or private organizations could achieve this sort of legal recognition if al-Qaeda could?
Going by recent events in Lebanon, Hezbollah has achieved a stature and de-facto recognition that many states would envy. It's funny how Hezbollah and other terrorist groups, though receiving money and training from states to attack other states (called "proxy warfare") are never referred to as "mercenaries". Instapundit has a post on Darfur looking at the issue not merely through the usual Islamist/nonIslamist prism, but in the context of the UN's condemnation of the right to self defense. Reynold's post says:
DARFUR UPDATE: "In the face of ongoing genocide in Darfur, the international community's failure to accept the 'responsibility to protect' (that's United Nations language, officially adopted) innocent civilian lives has taken its last, abject form. The National Islamic Front (NIF) regime in Khartoum, made up of the very men who have for more than three years orchestrated the systematic destruction of Darfur's African tribal populations, has been told directly and unambiguously that there will be no U.N. peacemaking force without its consent." Kind of puts the U.N.'s disavowal of a right to self-defense in perspective, doesn't it?
The UN's 'disavowal of self-defense' highlights the muddle into which thinking on state/nonstate actors has fallen. The UN argues that people have no legal right to defend themselves and those matters should be left to the state. The state? If Khartoum can can use the nonstate Janjaweed militia in Darfur and Iran can use the Hezbollah in Lebanon, what sense does it really make for the UN to argue that individuals cannot privately defend themselves?