Early in the decade Great Britain was at the forefront of the debate about the role and regulation of security contractors. The green paper exploring avenues for their regulation was entitled Private Military Companies: Options for Regulation, because Private Military Companies (PMCs) is an adequate term differentiating this type of firms from those offering soft services such as the guarding of banks, shopping malls, and private estates. A constructive debate about alternative futures for an industry needed yet in need of clearer parameters of operation followed the release of the green paper. For a country in which the writing of memoirs by former servicemen and intelligence officers is nearly customary, less was not expected.
Towards the close of the decade, however, the serious debate about the role and regulation of PMCs now takes place in Washington DC. Moreover, the UK government appears uncomfortably ambivalent towards the need of an open and continuous debate about fundamentalist terrorism, either penetrating or originating within the UK. This week the attempt of a young man to carry out a terrorist suicide bombing at an Exeter restaurant was not deemed worthy of extensive media coverage and in fact was not known to many people. Evidently, PMCs and terrorism are two different topics, although sometimes they converge. Yet the current ambivalence towards both is symptomatic of the worrisome and surreal attitude that has come to characterize the premiership of Gordon Brown. It is indeed perplexing because the UK is a leading supplier of PMCs and like the US faces an ongoing terror threat.
Perhaps the unnatural preoccupation of the UK government and its client state with social engineering has got in the way of the serious debate about PMCs and contemporary terror. Nowadays ordinary folks need to be worried about openly debating the active role of marginal segments of British society in domestic and international terrorist activities. Other than in the comfort of your own home, preferably just thinking about it while under the shower, do not dare linking terrorism with those marginal members of society. Likewise, it is offensive to the ever growing ranks of the client state to hear anything about private military personnel other than a blanket call for their termination.
Do you remember the stereotypical and sexist old view of the beauty pageant contestant expressing her desire for world peace? Do you remember wanting to tell her that the world is slightly more complex than how she saw it? Ironically, the beauty-pageant view is now shared by the nouveau bureaucrats populating the British client state. It is therefore no surprising that in the UK the real debate about PMCs and terrorism now takes place behind closed doors. The general public can only entertain the idea of appropriating the US debate. It is risk free. One does not need to worry about spending at day at the local police station, increasingly under the wrap of the client state, for debating genuine public concerns and the important role the private sector can play ameliorating them.
Deeply concerned about growing extremism, HMG sought through the “Prevent” portion of its Counterterrorism Strategy to prevent the radicalization of vulnerable populations by exerting influence on both extremists and their audiences, addressing structural problems that cause radicalization, and disrupting extremists’ ability to gain access that means of communications such as websites, blogsites, and other forms of new media. HMG also made efforts to stimulate self-regulation from the mosques and imams. Taken from the DOS Country Reports on Terrorism.
May 28, 2008