Date of Submission

Spring 2016

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Political Studies

Project Advisor 1

Christopher McIntosh

Abstract/Artist's Statement

This paper analyzes the prevailing misconceptions that have defined much of the popular imagination of Private Military Companies (PMCs) since their emergence in large numbers following the conclusion of the Cold War. By illustrating the origins of these misconceptions and the popular binary that they have contributed to, it is apparent that these impressions overlook the less visible ways in which PMCs are capable of altering the security imaginaries of client states. This paper uses a framework of Constructivist security in order to demonstrate that there are certain features of the state’s security imaginary as well as the privatized military industry which make it possible for PMCs to shape security threats and the proposed solution for these threats. The result of the collaborative process by which PMCs and states imagine and address security threats is a shared monopoly over the use of violence. While this shared monopoly conveys an external appearance of equality between its component actors, in reality, PMCs have the capability to become more powerful than the state within this relationship. This power imbalance is due to the reliance of the state on PMCs to fulfill its security demands. This paper claims that this relationship has the potential to lessen the state’s control over violence, and uses the Iraq War and the specific instance of contractor violence at Nisour Square in 2007 as illustrative of the broader power imbalances that are often concealed within this relationship.

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