Saturday, September 29, 2007

Mercenaries without borders - Part 5

PMC’s and “humanitarian aid”
As we mentioned at the start, the ambiguous double-use of PMC’s has permitted them to obtain contracts from “highly respectable” entities such as the State Department, the Pentagon, the EU, the UN, the African Union, the OSCE, NGO’s and event the Red Cross.
In France, before, “socialist” Bernard Kouchner became the new foreign affairs minister of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, he gave a hint to the integration of private armies in Inflexions, a prominent French Military journal of reference, where he stated that “The major question in effect is undoubtedly not to know if the humanitarian domain has to remain the exclusive one for the NGO’s (as if this would have ever been so), but rather to know how a growing number of actors involved in the rescue operations of victims – NGO, UN organizations, civil security, national and transnational military forces, private actors, etc. – can have mandates, approaches and perimeters of actions that answer in the most efficient way, and with the best cost/efficiency ratio the needs of the populations subjected to the crisis’s.” (4)
As one sees here, for Kouchner, the question is not to create a dynamic that outlaws PMC’s or makes them unnecessary, but to benefit from the “best cost/efficiency ratio”, i.e. the market! To make this package something acceptable to French public opinion, often qualified to be backwardly “thirty years behind vis-à-vis the Anglo-Saxons”, certain former French military, eager to set up their own PMC, plead in favor of changing the name of PMC into “Strategic and Operational Support Company”. The message is clear: “Sir, la and behold, we’re no mercenaries, but serious professionals that work for a handful of dollars.” As usual, the revolution of word is in the making.
French Law and the Geneva Conventions
In France, a real opposition to the PMC phenomena exists. On April 3, 2003, few weeks after the beginning of the Iraq war, the French Members of Parliament, across party lines voted a new law prohibiting “active mercenary” activity. During the parliamentary debate, French Defense minister Michèle Alliot-Marie and many others expressed the good intuitions that dominate the French mindset. She declared: “Real war enterprises, often of Anglo-Saxon origin, have, in this context, appeared and fructify. ‘In hand’ war material is delivered by them to failing states and the means to achieve their ends is given to oppositions poorly respectful of any legal procedures. One has to note here, by the way, that we’re not talking about traditional mercenaries, as individuals, but about real commercial companies, the more so more fearsome as they dispose of powerful means.”

To be continued.

Mercenaries without borders : Indybay