FORA Politics

Season 2006 Episode 0323

Privatizing America's Foreign Policy

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Privatizing America's Foreign Policy
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A panel discussion with Douglas Brooks, Founder and President, International Peace Operations Association (IPOA); Marcela Gaviria and Martin Smith, Co-Producers, PBS/FRONTLINE documentary Private Warriors chronicling the activities of private military companies in Iraq; and William Hartung, President's fellow at the World Policy Institute and director of the Institute's Arms Trade Project. Moderated by Michael A. Cohen, Co-Project Leader, Privatization of Foreign Policy Project, World Policy Institute.As the "era of the nation-state" gives way to the "era of the non-state actor," private actors - from wealthy philanthropists and multi-national corporations to international terrorists and even individuals - are coming to play a defining role in U.S. foreign policy. Nowhere is the traditional dividing line between public and private authority becoming more blurred than in the realm of national security. More than ever, the U.S. military is relying on the services of private military companies (PMCs) to support combat and stabilization missions essential to America's national security. In fact, it is estimated that more than 20,000 private contractors are currently serving in Iraq. The contracting of private security forces is changing the very way that combat operations are planned and executed. Operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have highlighted the substantial benefits PMCs can offer, but they have also shown that PMCs can operate in an ambiguous legal and regulatory environment that leaves open important questions about transparency, accountability and the rule of law. It is not only U.S foreign policy that is being affected - NGOs and international organizations are facing difficult questions and when and how to utilize this new and undefined fighting force - The New Schoolmoreless
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