Military Downsizing and Growth in the Security Industry in Sub-Saharan Africa
Military Downsizing: Basic Facts
The end of the Cold War marks the end of a period of hypermilitarisation which had affected virtually the entire world. Though in many countries, the downsizing of the military sector had started already around 1985 as the lingering economic and financial crisis brought the rearmament bonanza instigated by the first Reagan Administration increasingly to a halt. Gorbachev's misguided attempt to save the Soviet economy by propagating global disarmament in the hope of being able to lower the Soviet military burden, ended with the implosion of the Soviet Union and its ensuing dissolution. It sparked a chain reaction of military downsizing which eventually reached the military establishment in most parts of the world. However, the process was somewhat slowed down by the second Gulf War. And the South-East Asian region appeared to counter the trend until the entire region was hit by the present regional economic crisis (SIPRI 1998: 187-198).
Throughout the Cold War, many military postures in sub-Saharan Africa, including of insurgent forces, were the product of non-requited transfers, if only ex-post as credits had to be written off, from outside the continent. Today military spending in sub-Saharan Africa accounts for less than one percent of global military expenditures and to the extent the available figures are reliable, continues to fall (SIPRI 1998: 195). South Africa alone still spends more than 40 per cent of the regional total, although cuts and general downsizing have reduced South Africa's military burden during the last ten years from 4 per cent of GNP to 2 per cent of GNP (BICC 1998: 34). Since military transfers into the region have become purely commercial transactions, the falling military budgets reflect only part of the actual military downsizing in the region.
Globally the manpower absorbed by military activities is also declining. The Bonn International Conversion Centre (BICC) has calculated that the world Armies shrank by more than 6 million soldiers from the peak in 1987 to 22.7 million at the end of 1996 (BICC 1998: 39). However, sub-Saharan Africa did not follow this global trend and kept overall about 1.1 million soldiers under arms during the 1990s, though some countries, South Africa in particular, saw part of their armed forces being demobilised, while in regions afflicted by continued armed conflict, the numbers apparently increased.
But such aggregate figures have only little explanatory value in the context of the military scenarios in sub-Saharan Africa, not only because statistics are notoriously unreliable. More importantly, the delineation of what should be counted as armed forces is troubled with ambiguity, because many countries have seen a proliferation of armed formations in recent years. Presidential guards, often better paid and supplied with equipment, are a case in point (Meditz 1994, 277-327). Sometimes it is not clear whether state formations have been appropriated for private interests or whether private formations substitute government functions. Besides the functions of the military in sub-Saharan Africa do not relfect a clear separation between internal and external security which is normally represented by the police and the military respectively.
Often the logistical capacities of the national armed forces do not cover the entire national territory and operational equipment rarely exceeds small arms and most basic infantry equipment. Many observers attribute the relative absence of inter-state wars in sub-Saharan Africa to the incapacity of most armed forces to conduct such operations (Ela 1996: 184, Kacowicz 1997:384). In general, attrition exceeds replacements by a large margin. The 1997 imports of major conventional weapons in sub-Saharan Africa amounted to 0.5 per cent of the world trade in weapons. On average, weapons worth $243 million were anually imported in the entire region during the most recent five-year period 1993-1997; it was the lowest average figure since 1960. Only Angola, South Africa and Nigeria have imported major weapons worth more than $100 million during the last five years, Angola leading the league with $185 million. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) contends that between 1993 and 1997, 144 tanks, 352 armoured vehicles, 8 combat aircraft, 11 helicopters, 54 pieces of artillery, and 14 transport aircraft or helicopters at most were imported by countries engaged in conflicts in the region. All of the systems imported were at the very low end of sophistication and mostly second-hand (SIPRI 1998: 302-305). According to SIPRI, these imported weapon systems did not play a significant role in the conflicts.
South Africa, of course, is a separate case. The armed forces of the apartheid regime were the dominant military factor in Africa. They fought permanently undeclared inter-state wars, based on a doctrine pre-empting the assumed "total onslught." The ongoing downsizing has not only released experienced military personnel with intimate knowledge of other countries in the region, but South Africa also has to cope with an oversize intelligence apparatus covering the entire continent. This heritage is both a burden and a boon for the African National Congress (ANC) post-apartheid government in trying to come to new terms with the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and its member states.
The on-going French military reforms also contribute to the regional military downsizing. The prepositioned troops of more 8,000 men until recently in six countries--Senegal, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Central African Republic, Chad, Gabon--(Dumoulin 1997: 113f.) will be reduced to 2,000. Given the superior equipment of the French troops in an African context and their linkage to rapid mobility forces stationed in France, this reduction of the French posture in sub-Saharan Africa marks a substantial change in the African military equation.
But most importantly, in a number of countries, the armed forces have degenerated either into self-serving corporations geared mainly at enriching their upper ranks or have disintegrated into "self-taxing" armed units without effective central command whose objective functions bear little relation with security, neither internal nor external (Bigou 1998). The often miserable status of many armed formations in sub-Saharan Africa was regularly illustrated when the intervention of some hundred French soldiers sufficed to quell disturbances (Dumoulin 1997) and easily shift the balance of power mostly in favour of entrenched francophone elites. Thus, the downsizing of the military sector in sub-Saharan Africa has both quantitative and qualitative dimensions. The existing combination of the two amounts to an effective military vacuum in large parts of sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, the state has often lost the monopoly of legitimate violence, because the police forces are in an equally disastrous condition. But the evolution of a political consensus and an availability of the necessary means allowing to rebuild legitimate and efficient forces are clearly not in the offing.
However, the downsizing is not a one-day process. An outside intervention and support with a moderately efficient military force evolves as a tempting option in the context of a relative military vacuum, if a clear and realistic objective is at stake and a new coalition of external and internal interests can be forged. Angola's partisan support in neighbouring countries aiming at cutting of the life-lines of UNITA is a case in point. In this context it should also be noted that the training of officers at military academies in France, the United States, United Kingdom, Israel among others, continues unabated: annually at least 2,000 officers receive advanced education and training abroad. (Dumoulin 1997:121f.; Demilitarization 1997:14). Moreover, the rapidly increasing number of joint military exercises between the United States and single African states indicates that there is a tacit competition among outside powers to link up with African armed forces through planting potential liaison officers. According to one source, the United States held in 1995 combat exercises with 18 sub-Saharan states and 5 medical exercises; in 1996, with 20 states and one medical exercise; in 1997 with 26 states and two medical exercises; in 1998, with 29 states and three medical exercises (Demilitarization 1997:17). There are no indications that the American military posture off-shore the African continent has diminished; to the contrary, upon short notice, the US Navy had a landing ship ready for evacuation during the new crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (former Zaire). And the American capacities of permanent orbital monitoring are continuously expanding. Finally, the option to fill the military vacuum selectively by an emerging private security industry is on the horizon, not least because the United States and other Western governments are condoning, if not actively supporting the acquisitive strategies of the private security industry in sub-Saharan Africa (Howe 1998; Shearer 1998).
Military Downsizing in Historical Perspective
The end of modern inter-state wars usually resulted in military downsizing, but also in some form of military proliferation beyond the geographical area of the battlefield. Thus, a short examination of typical patterns at the end of wars might help to elucidate the on-going international military transactions related to downsizing in the aftermath of the Cold War.
The Napoleonic wars saw transfers of military personnel of losing parties to other scenarios. Hundreds of Polish aristocratic officers who had put all their hopes in Napoleon to resurrect the Polish state, ended up fighting a slave rebellion in Haiti on behalf of France, vainly hoping that their service would eventually be redeemed and the Polish state resurrected. The demise of Napoleon also marked the first large demobilisation in modern times. The new order designed by the Vienna Congress reduced the demand for the military profession in Europe. Not surprisingly, the military histories of the newly independent Latin American states document a corresponding influx of military officers from Europe who sought and found employment in the new world (Schafer 1974; Keegan 1983). The failed revolution of 1848 and the following repression led to the emigration of democratic military personnel and many ended up in the United States fighting in the Civil War. The French-German War in 1870-71 pushed the losing French side to concentrate its military efforts in search of grandeur on the conquest of what became the French colonial empire.
However, the proliferation of military expertise, personnel, and hardware in the aftermath of a war fully unfolded only after World War I and again after World War II. Germany, as the losing party in both wars, became a major source of legal and illegal, governmental and private proliferation. Most of the military hardware was confiscated and either distributed among the members of the extensive winning alliance as reparation or destroyed. After World War I, tight limitations of force strength and equipment were imposed which resulted in large demobilisations, including an outsize officer corps. After World War II, Germany was totally demilitarised, a policy only reversed with the intensification of the Cold War in the aftermath of the Korean War. At the end of the Cold War, the East German NVA (National People's Army) was dissolved and only small parts were integrated into the Bundeswehr. The following table illustrates the broad range of military activities emanating from Germany during periods of forced demobilisation. In many cases, the Germans involved imparted far-reaching strategic and technological innovations on behalf of their foreign employers.
International Military Transactions During Forced Military Demobilisation in Germany
Legal transactions Illegal transactions
Government Licensed exports Covert transfers (Argentina, various countries
Expedition corps Covert training missions
Legion Condor Secret manoeuvres in the
Surplus donations after the end of the Soviet Union
Cold War (e.g. Turkey, Baltic States); sales Covert joint industrial
of surplus (e.g. Indonesia); donations of ventures; covert joint R&D
equipment to UN peace missions (Japan in particular)
Forced recruitment of
researchers and engineers
(USA, Soviet Union, France)
Private Training missions, but privately Covert joint industrial
contracted (Argentina, China, Turkey) ventures to build warplanes
Establishment of foreign subsidiaries in Japan, Sweden,
to evade controls, Netherlands (WW I)
Voluntary contracting of
researchers and engineers Placement of engineers
(USA, Soviet Union, Argentina, in foreign arsenals until
Egypt, India, China) domestic production
Large scale enrolment in the could be resumed (Santa.
Legion etrangere and fighting in Barbara (Spain) G-3 H&K.
Vietnam (mainly Waffen-SS) Trade liaison missions
Advisory missions (Argentina/Rudel) aiming at breaking trade
Engineers teams working on mili- restrictions (China, Soviet
tary projects in Argentina, Egypt, India Union, Argentina)
Broker activities for the Russian military-industrial complex by former NVA- officers
Note: Transactions after World War I marked in italics; transactions after World War I and World War II are underlined; transactions after World War II are in standard script, transactions after 1990 are in b script.
It is beyond the aim of this article to describe in detail the post-conflict proliferation of German military knowhow and personnel. But the largely private involvement of German military personnel in Chiang Kai-Shek's China which was at first tacitly and later openly supported by the German government, displays a number of features which can be observed today in the murky world of the private security industry and private arms dealers as well.
Indicating a clear political shift, Chiang Kai-Shek expelled 60 Soviet military advisors in 1927, and attracted instead a large group of demobilised German officers to work for him.
"They were lured by good salaries, by the opportunity to work for those military men who were dismissed because of the limits set by the Versailles Treaty and by the possibility to be politically active for those officers who had national-revolutionary leanings. Some of them maintained close contacts with the German industry and the arms industry in particular. Among them was Colonel Max Bauer who held a leading post in the general staff during WW I and who had participated in the Kapp insurrection in 1920. Later he served for some time as armaments advisor in the USSR, among others in the field of poison gas, followed by similar consultancies in Spain and Argentina. In 1927 he was invited by the Canton KMT-leadership to inspect the military...he became immediately an economic advisor. Bauer arranged economic contacts, he opened the way for arms deals and eventually enlisted 20 more civil and military specialists...Faced with the civil war, the advisors became more and more involved in military affairs, they organised a battalion of instructors, taught at war schools and laid the foundations for intelligence and counter-espionage...In 1929...lieutenant-colonel Wilhelm Kriebel became leader of the consultants. He was a follower of Hitler and had participated in Hitler's failed insurrection of 1923...The consultants took part at the side of Chiang in the fights against disloyal warlords (! P.L.) in Northern China and in the campaigns against the communists." (Krebs 1998: 12f.)
As this originally private scheme of military consulting expanded, it developed into a brokerage, officers earned lucrative commissions, set up trade companies and finally managed to get first the Reichswehr and later the German government involved in the China connection. Increasing numbers of Chinese officers, including Chiang's son, studied at the German General Staff College. Eventually, Hans von Seekct, whose brain-child the post-World War I Reichswehr was, became the "general manager" of the China connection. "Closely coordinated with the Reichswehr, Seeckt initiated barter trade, which Germany, lacking foreign exchange, was most interested in, because it required for its demanding rearmament programme raw materials, particularly large quantities of wolfram from China." (Krebs 1998: 13). The German arms industry won lucrative orders from Chiang's government to fill idle capacities.
But the foreign activities of demobilised German military personnel were not restricted to China. Against the prohibition of foreign military relations imposed by the Versailles Treaty, German officers travelled as private citizens and were hired as military consultants throughout South America, often in continuation of close military ties which had been fomented during the Kaiserreich. Sometimes they adopted the local citizenship for better cover. But most importantly, they received covert support from the ministry of the Reichswehr. In general, this undeclared foreign military policy was effective in creating markets for the German arms manufacturers. In South America, it became furthermore a precursor of a general resurgence of Germany as a trade partner (Schafer 1974:193). In Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru, demobilised officers from Germany were particularly influential. Ataturk's new Turkey also contracted German military personnel who acted in their private capacity.
This short look into consequences of earlier post-War demobilisations suggests that the privatisation of foreign military and security relations pursued by Executive Outcomes, MPRI and the likes is not an entirely new phenomenon. Neither is their link to economic interests and access to raw materials a new occurrence. Similar situations, both at the supply side and at the demand side, prevailed in earlier periods as well, namely the complementary pattern of demobilisation of qualified military personnel without appropriate civilian job alternatives and weak states and civil wars creating demand for external military and strategic support.
After 1945, the Cold War and colonial wars absorbed most of the military surplus in personnel and hardware. Alternatively, some were lured into settling in the still existing colonies like British officers in Kenya. Many young men from Waffen SS formations of different national origin joined the Legion Etrangere and ended up in Dien Bien Phu and later in Algeria. In the early 1950s, 80,000 Germans were believed fighting in Indochina and Algeria, though many of them were younger than the Waffen SS generation (Cahn 1997:96). Dutch members of the Waffen SS were sent with the Dutch contingent to the Korean War as a precondition to regain their citizenship. Some World War II veterans formed the first generation of mercenaries who became notorious in the early post-independence years in Africa (Burmester 1978:47-50). Only the United States managed to reintegrate their military personnel into the booming post-War economy. In contrast, the Vietnam War produced a trace of disintegrated ex-soldiers who floated around worldwide and served among others as pilots in risky operations like transporting illegal commodities and drugs and provided logistics for right-wing insurgencies.
Yet another pattern can be observed in the Middle East where nations like Saudi Arabia, Oman and others employ foreign military specialists who are on leave from their national armed forces. Among others, Pakistani pilots fly Saudi Arabian fighter aircraft. The main motive for Pakistan to lease pilots seems to be an externalisation of costs which otherwise would accrue to the national military budget, while maintaining a larger, well-trained reserve force. Great Britain pioneered such arrangements in Oman already in the Seventies for reasons of "stealth" accountability. In addition, many military functions are contracted out to private American and British companies which made the Middle East the precursor of a general tendency which begins to spread pervasively.
Whatever seemingly new and sometimes bizarre security arrangements with external (private) participation will be reported from the African continent, it is likely that similar cases will be found in the European history of this century. It is pertinent to recall that a profound study of the foreign military relations of Germany during downsizing and demobilisation is likely to reveal many more similarities with the present situation in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Since the apartheid regime in South Africa clearly belonged to the losers at the end of the Cold War, it is not surprising that South Africa's present problems of internal fragmentation and foreign policy constraints in a context of a tense military downsizing, display a number of similarities with the Weimar Republic. The right wing political orientation of many military officers and the incomplete control of the government over the military and the intelligence apparatus feature among them. The German demobilised officers had successfully carved out a sphere of foreign military policy between corporate autonomy and governmental collusion which provided them with jobs and lucrative business. Thus, from a more historic perspective, the turmoil of South Africa's official and private, covert and illegal foreign military policies do not come as a surprise.
Economic Crisis in Africa and Downsizing of the State
The outside world seems to have accommodated to Africa's economic plight. Increasing volumes of humanitarian aid make up for the lack of any more serious commitment to contribute to overcoming the economic cul de sac of ever mounting debt payment arrears which afflicts most of the sub-Saharan states. Even in cases of gross human rights violations, the outside world has opted to look the other way and is not prepared to consider an intervention. Almost twenty years of World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) sponsored structural adjustment programmes have not alleviated the economic scenario which continues to be marked by sometimes extreme levels of aid dependency, unsupportable levels of foreign debts, decaying infrastructures, etc. But it would be wrong to conclude from the obvious fact, that very few, if any economic improvements were achieved in some countries, whereas in other countries the situation continues to deteriorate, that there were no changes. To the contrary, the character of the sub-Saharan states has changed in response to the pressures of structural adjustment policies and the paradigmatic changes of development aid.
The first long period after independence saw an elite staying in power by means of systems of patronage with an inherent, structurally self-defeating logic of continued expansion (Medard 1992:188). To the extent the available resources were exhausted during the second decade, development aid and its manipulation became the main source of patronage. Not surprisingly, the political systems displayed a strong link between the disposition of economic benefits and political stability. But the elites were still the absolute arbitrator over external economic relations which allowed them to exploit not only the Cold War competition, but also the political rivalries among donor nations. In Francophone Africa, it was also possible to call French troops to quell Opposition forces and protect the elites in power.
The accumulation of unsustainable foreign debts during the Seventies paved the way for international political pressure on the African governments to accept structural adjustment programmes designed by the IMF and World Bank. It was believed that the inflated and inefficient state bureaucracies were the main cause for the economic malaise and that allowing market forces to operate would set the economies on the right path. After more than a decade of structural adjustment programmes and debt rescheduling exercises, most low income countries still face unsustainable and unpayable debt obligations.
However, in the course of this failed restructuring, the entrenched elites of African states saw their situation change, the resources required to govern their own territories, and their legitimacy in the international and in the domestic spheres were removed from them (Clapham 1997:186). The ensuing downsizing of the state did not necessarily eliminate the incumbent elites. Often they were able to manipulate the enforced privatisation and appropriate at knock-down prices the most valuable assets, not unlike the rampant nomenclatura privatisation in Russia (Clapham 1997:250; Reno 1998). The expected catharsis of corrupt systems did not materialise, instead an empirical survey on the state of corruption concluded:
"Rather than witnessing a trend from the bad days of the 'old corruption' of economic dirigisme and political authoritarianism to a new dawn of economic competition and political accountability, we discovered the rise of a 'new corruption', rooted in the logic of economic and political liberalisation, reflecting the activity of rapacious local elites no longer subject to the domestic and international constraints of the Cold War era and increasingly pervaded by criminals of 'mafioso' forces." (Harris-White 1996:4).
But most importantly, this period was characterised by a cumulative externalisation of state functions. Some observers have labelled the process as recolonisation, although the ideologies behind this recent transformation are distinct from the motives behind Africa's conquest in the 19th century. The innumerable agencies in the aid industry happily adopted the new paradigm as well. They boldly bypassed the arbitration of the recipient state and imposed their respective philosophy, though often in collusion with former bureaucrats turned into non-governmental receptacles of aid. "The capacity of African governments to manage the connections between their own societies and the outside world was consequently reduced or even extinguished, and instead such connections were taken over, to the extent that they were sustained at all, by external agencies operating on their own account." (Clapham 1996:186). "Western non-governmental organisations sought to supplement or displace African governments in every field, from famine relief and human rights monitoring to the protection of the elephant and the rhinoceros." (Clapham 1998:265).
Generally the important political implications of this change are conveniently overlooked. In the first place, external actors fully share the responsibility for the continued regress of most economies in the region. (UNCTAD 1997:126-148). The failed development projects, the accumulated debt burden, and the grip an incumbent power elite still holds over valuable assets to the detriment of the population at large are the products of decisions which were long since predominantly externalised or where external actors had at least a veto. Secondly, as UNCTAD correctly points out, economies in regress are prone to state failures or even collapse and internal conflicts, resulting in complex emergencies, which are highly contagious and do not stop at borders. (UNCTAD 1997:127). Thus, any complex emergency cannot any longer be dealt with as an isolated case; in most cases, an entire region is in danger of being drawn into a downward economic spiral.
Finally, while liberalisation and democratisation continue to be sold as the panacea, the state is being virtually hollowed out and little to nothing is left for democratically elected politicians to decide, because the major state functions have long since been externalised. As a result, African states are in a process of steady conversion into Potemkin facades, behind which international agencies and actors are running the economy, mostly in collusion with local elites turned entrepreneurs. This process has been dubbed "the project of external governance" (Clapham 1998:265). Military functions and security services are only the latest additions to the list of state functions being externalised and often privatised.
The End of the Cold War in Sub-Saharan Africa
The mere statistical trends of arms flowing into sub-Saharan Africa reflect the downgrading of this region on the foreign military policy agendas of the leading powers which were the main suppliers and paymasters of the region's military posture. At the height of the Cold War, the region absorbed military equipment worth more than five billion US dollars in some years or up to 15-20 per cent of the region's exports. Two time series taken from SIPRI (1998 and 1996) and Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) (1996) reflect unambiguously the trend, in spite of the differences in data due to methodological differences in the definition of weaponry included and in price estimates.
Arms Transfers Deliveries 1984-1995
(in constant 1994 dollars)
Year Million $
1995 270 (1995 US $)*
Source: ACDA 1996:104; *ACDA 1997:101.
Imports of Major Weapons in Sub-Saharan Africa 1986-1997
(in constant 1990 prices)
Year Million US $
Source: SIPRI 1996; SIPRI 1998.
The changes in volume of arms procured in the region indicate that the military went through a repositioning internally and externally. The figures confirm that with the exception of South Africa, military equipment will be increasingly confined to cheap infantry weapons, and most rudimentarily equipped Air Forces and Navies, because no government seems likely to be able to extract more than minimum budgets which do not even allow for regular replacement of existing stock. The data also hints at the fact that secular trends were also at work, because the reversal of trends precedes the end of the Cold War.
Hence, fighting parties in wars in the region will have basically to contend with the equipment inherited from the Cold War period, except for small arms which are more affordable and in addition readily available on the black market, also for insurgent forces. Since the volumes of hardware supplied during the Seventies and Eighties were not equally distributed in the region, the military level of warfighting will be largely determined by what is left in operational condition in each conflict arena. Angola and Ethiopia alone absorbed almost two-thirds of the regional arms imports calculated to have amounted to $33 billion between 1984 and 1994. While Ethiopia has virtually ceased to import arms after 1990, Angola's arms imports alone from 1991 onwards make up almost half the regional total according to ACDA (1996:104, 111); though SIPRI (1998:301, 318) data on major weapon systems shows a lower share of Angola.
In purely military terms, large parts of sub-Saharan Africa develop into a vacuum where the infusion of a small, well organised external force can tip the balance in on-going confrontations. However, in many cases, state structures have collapsed to such an extent, that a military victory is likely to have little impact on levels of societal violence, social fragmentation and criminalisation of the economy. Still, in the absence of an alternative, leasing military force to meet one's political ends remains always a temptation in the destitute environments that parts of the region represent.
One of the most profound effects of the end of the Cold War is the backtracking of direct US government involvement in African affairs. "The United States...switched to policies which emphasised the role of non-state activities such as those of private companies or civic associations." (Clapham 1996:256). Direct US aid had moulded Africa's political landscape throughout the Cold War, not necessarily in a favourable way, which is documented by the countries topping the list of US aid at the time: Sudan, Zaire, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Liberia. (Waal 1997:625). The "destating" of external relations of Africa was not restricted to the United States. Africa had suddenly lost its strategic significance for the great powers outside; the Soviet Union disappeared altogether. This combined with the general displacement of state-to-state relations as a result of globalisation.
New transitional organisations acquired significant resources of power as the industrial countries underwent a process of institutional restructuring themselves. They took over the external relations with Africa. Foreign aid is a case in point: it was mostly privatised and saw an enhanced role of UN agencies, not a marginal aspect of governmental backtracking because aid amounts to roughly ten per cent of the regional GNP. Transnational corporations like Lonrho and Bridgestone turned into direct political players in East Africa and Liberia respectively, while external non-governmental organisations were effectively privatising diplomacy and acted as mediators in armed conflicts, as for example, Catholic groups in Mozambique in 1992 (Clapham 1996:260f.).
A direct consequence of the strategic repositioning of Africa, which forebodes major changes in the region, is the reduced significance of international borders. After thirty years of tacit agreement sanctifying the arbitrary borders of African states inherited from colonial times many indications point to changes of borders in the region. The secession of Eritrea may just be a harbinger of a new geo-political order in the region. But a possible restructuring of the region's political geography will not necessarily follow the European model, as Eritrea apparently did, where most actors throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries aimed at forming homogeneous nation-states. Instead in the age of globalisation, control over commerce, particularly trading with the global market, has become the key demarcator of political power. (Reno 1998:71; Reinicke 1998:54ff.). Therefore, the classical nation-state may well be restricted to taking a back seat in the reorganisation of Africa's political economy and the ensuing new continental map after the Cold War. The major powers are not likely to defend the territorial status quo provided their interests are not endangered by the changes.
Privatisation and Criminalisation of the State
To a different degree most sub-Saharan states appear to move along a similar path, always at the brink of state failure. The inherent expansion of clientelistic political systems requires a steady flow of additional resources the elite must appropriate in order to stay in power. Hence, clientelism carries steadily increasing costs. This secular trap that the elites in control of the state were constantly confronted with was reinforced by international pressures to accept the need for structural adjustment of the economies burdened with unpayable debts.
Under the pressure of adjustment, the incumbent elites often relinquished their social obligations and concentrated on safeguarding their economic fiefdoms while duly paying lip service to the imposed financial regime. (Marchal 1997:32) As more and more core functions of the state were outsourced to foreign contractors like the profitable trade certification to the Swiss SGS, in order to comply with the dictate of the international financial institutions, the incumbent elites in control expanded into parallel informal networks aiming at maintaining their controlling stake. This move has been labelled as "creation of a shadow state" (Reno 1996) or "dedoublement de l'etat." (Hibou 1997) and provided the incumbent elites with continued control of exploitable resources. An American scholar's assessment is even harsher. "In a number of countries, the state is slowly being merged into a web of informal business associations instituted by rulers who have little interest in carrying out the traditional functions of the state and who do not recognise or respect boundaries, while enriching themselves through trade" (Herbst 1996:124f.)
However, the failure of the formal state as a normative authority made informal settlement the norm, arbitrariness the rule, corruption a political philosophy, and shrewd double-dealing the only way of existence. (Vircoulon 1996:205). The nomenclatura privatisation of the state sector demonstrated that the market forces were ineffective to take over the regulation of the economy against the well-entrenched informal networks. The privatisation reallocated the "economy of pillage" into less accountable, almost by definition shady or illegal spheres. (Hibou 1997). In search of new resources, these economic networks expanded into international criminal dealings and transformed parts of sub-Saharan Africa into an important turntable of the global drug trade. (Observatoire 1996:188-191) Money laundering and financial fraud became viable industries in the region. (Bayart 1997a:26).
The elite networks maintained their leverage at the price of relying more and more on violent coercion while the cannibalisation of all public goods has become a rule (Vircoulon 1996:205). Rent seeking continues to expand along with the growth of illegal activities and an influx of dirty money. Violence as a mode of economic regulation penetrates more and more economic spheres and thus prepares the ground for an escalation into armed conflict and anarchy (Hibou 1997:146).
The double structure of economic, financial, and political power deprives the formal state increasingly of the means to provide at least a minimum of its functions. The extensive community of public servants which grew under the patrimonial state is being expropriated of its income. The state does not regularly pay salaries, if at all. Rampant inflation, often caused by criminal fiscal manipulation like bringing printed money into circulation on behalf of kleptocratic leaders, has devalued public salaries to such an extent that office holders must either extort illegal fees for their services or moonlight in the private sector or in the informal economy. As a result of policies of structural adjustment, the formal state has lost its attraction for the rent-seeking elites—they withdraw their allegiance and abandon their former power base without remorse.
Police and the military are not spared from this absolute weakening of the state and the ensuing privatisation of its functions. In all but name we can describe the effects on all armed agents of the state in many countries as a slow-motion demobilisation. The rules a market economy relies on to function are not any longer enforced. To the contrary, the public security forces either sell their services to an oligarchic group or live on some form of extortion themselves. In response to the ensuing general insecurity, all social actors take up their own defence against criminality. This privatisation of security polarises the society because security is converted into a commodity. It can be purchased in the regular economy from a private security company, in a gray area by buying off state agents, in the informal sector by militianisation, or in the criminal sector by paying a racketeer. Once violence has begun to regulate economic transactions, security becomes a major occupation because it is a functional precondition for any transaction. A private security escalation is the logical consequence, which eventually takes on the dimension of an internal arms race encompassing mainly small arms. The productivity of the economy, including the criminal and informal sectors, rapidly contracts further because of cumulative transaction costs related to security.
From such an aggregate condition of a society to armed conflict, from a criminalised economy to a war economy, is only a small step. In both cases, security is the major concern and violence a means to achieve foremost economic objectives. While demobilisation is typically associated with the end of armed conflicts, it is argued here that many weakened states are faced with de facto demobilisation of their armed agents even without an open armed conflict coming to an end. In the process, the security personnel, military and police alike, transform themselves into private instruments of violence, offering their services to the highest bidder either as moonlighters or full-time, notwithstanding the criminal character of the services required (Keen 1998:31f.). Alternatively they enter self-employed the world of pillage, looting and extortion. Thus, post-conflict demobilisation is not so much a unique circumstance. This should not come as a surprise, because the principles of economic circulation in most of the sub-Saharan region are the same whether a war is on or not. (Duffield 1998:98; Keen 1998:23ff.).
The Organisation of Security in Weak States: The Case of Sub-Saharan Africa
"The notion that Africa was ever composed of sovereign states classically defined as having a monopoly on force in the territory within their boundaries is false. Most colonial states did not make any effort to extend the administrative apparatus of government much beyond the capital city...After independence, African countries did try to extend the administrative reach of the state, but were always more focused on the urban populations." (Herbst 1996:122). The facade of sovereignty was maintained throughout the Cold War, helped by the unconditional support for basically dysfunctional states whose territorial composition was neither based on economic or ethnic cohesion nor on a democratic consensus.
The armed forces played an important role in maintaining this facade either as arbiters over elite factions or footsoldiers of entrenched leaders. But the military balance between the state and the society has profoundly changed. At independence, the state was basically in full control of any weapons on its territory. However, this is not any longer the case because states have atrophied further (Herbst 1996:123) and weapons spilling over from armed conflicts throughout the region have begun to circulate virtually uncontrolled and allowed societies to arm and challenge the incumbent elites. As Africa's Armies seem to melt into a new privatised security order dominated by oligopolistic groups, a short review of the evolution of the armed forces will help to understand the process.
Africa's armed forces are basically a colonial institution which served to police the empires, but they were also enlisted as cheap cannon fodder during the two World Wars* and in some cases in colonial wars elsewhere. The colonial recruitment exploited existing group rivalries, so that the respective territorial population was never proportionately represented in the colonial regiments. Upon independence, the colonial military personnel formed the Army of the newly independent state. They became the most visible expression of sovereignty. However, the under-represented groups could not identify with this national "symbol." Furthermore, the armed forces were burdened with their image of colonial coercion.
But post-colonial interests and the Cold War opened the military academies of the foremost military powers, including the People's Republic of China and Israel, for African officers. Eventually the give-away competition in surplus disposals and new arms among the major powers reached the procurement of Africa's armed forces as well. But the weak economies hardly allowed to maintain the cascaded surplus equipment operational, except for the large stock of rugged light weapons.
The elite had a strong interest not to touch the inherited borders, since their position depended on the status quo and the pretension of being a nation-state (Kacowicz 1997 p. 382). This predilection combined with resources too limited to maintain armed forces capable of fighting cross borders wars (Kacowicz 1997 p. 374). However, if an armed internal conflict was dubbed to be a deputy war, the fighting parties were stocked with military equipment, often beyond realistic requirements. This left huge surplus stocks at the end of those wars which were bound to be offered in black markets, because the regimes were unable to sustain an orderly demobilisation. Instead, armed formations often fragmented into autonomous units which appropriated military property of the government to generate income whereever an outlet could be found. As already mentioned, these weapons flow freely throughout Africa in search of effective demand; the prices are volatile, but often they sell well below the production price.
In general, the armed forces were eager to adopt the role of a symbolic guardian of the nation, charged with the task of external defence. This explains the many jet fighter aircraft that were procured during the Seventies, while there was no defence doctrine in place to justify such an acquisition. Sophisticated weaponry was seen as a means not to be drawn into internal security. However, the armed forces never managed to abandon the colonial canon of their role and were often exclusively engaged in internal security, particularly as the general economic conditions deteriorated. At the same time, the professional standards declined together with the social status of the military personnel, not least because military budgets were shrinking and often misappropriated.
The general economic decline led the military personnel to seek additional sources of income to supplement their meagre and often irregular payment. Moonlighting in the private security industry is among the more benign alternative activities; rackets and other predatory activities turned the military institution in a number of countries into a scourge permanently haunting the civilian population. Marchal depicts the ensuing confrontative dynamics between the dispersed military formations and the society at large as "double militarisation" (Marchal 1997:33). It reflects a process of deinstitutionalisation which puts the procedures of hierarchical and bureaucratic functioning into question and transforms entire units of the armed forces into bands who receive the main part of their income not through their allegiance to the state, but through the confiscation of resources belonging to the public and through theft from civilians. This provokes a reflexive organisation on the civilian side and marginalises the authority of the state and its monopoly of violence in the societal security equation. Kleptomaniac governments prolong their survival by proliferating the coercive forces of the state. The creation of a Presidential Guards is often the most visible step, but other specialised security services are created as well to keep challenges of power at bay. These formations are likely to be better equipped and paid than the mostly neglected armed forces, but they may also face sudden dissolution if they do not fit into the security equation of the ruling elite any longer (Waal 1996:7). In the terminal stages of state atrophy, special forces protecting the "Big Man" (Medard 1992) are sometimes remunerated out of the privy purse of the incumbent to ensure their allegiance.
In countries involved in long lasting civil wars, the insurgent Army often also benefitted from intensive military training abroad. This is not without relevance for the downsizing and demilitarisation procedures, because this training consisted either of Maoist guerilla doctrines or right wing destabilisation manuals depending on who the patron was. In the northern part of the region, former volunteers from the war in Afghanistan are said to transfer what they learnt during their destabilisation training with US-special forces. The final addition to the potential surplus personnel with military experience are children. Thus, no matter whether large scale demobilisation after conflict or the pervasive slow-motion demobilisation characterises the scene, the emerging private security industry in Africa and the criminal sectors of the economy alike can draw from a labour market oversupplied with a wide range of military experience and knowhow to chose from.
But if this were not enough, the on-going debate on how to cope with violence in Africa generally ignores that the police forces are in a miserable shape as well. Social science paid surprisingly little attention to the police forces in Africa. This contrasts with the large body of literature on the role of the military. "When the police are discussed, it is usually in relation to the military, compared to whom they are seen academically as the poor relation: lower in status, educational level, resources and discipline, and less prone to political intervention" (Hills A.E. 1996:339). During the Cold War, the way political leaders were policing their country did not really matter, as long as the regime was not in danger to be overthrown and shift sides.
Colonial in their origin, the police forces in most African countries are run like quasi-military units (Montclos 1997) and are, therefore, by definition badly prepared to function as a modern police force e.g. acting proactively (Midgeley 1996). In spite of significant differences in the political evolution of African states after independence, their police forces share many characteristics. "The salient features of policing across a number of African states are its low status, paramilitarism and propensity for violence. In turn, the features of existing African police systems are that they are generally organised as a nationally-unified, vertical body with a centralised force directed from the top, but whose divisional administration units are divided into regional, district, station, substation, and police-post levels" (Hills E.A. 1996:340).
In spite of their marginal formation (Hills 1996:289), police officers are typically endowed with extensive power of discretion which invites unequal treatment of citizens among others. In fact, most police forces became notorious for corruption, greed, violence and weakness, and partiality. The population learnt to perceive the police as part of the (security) problem and not as a solution. Compared to the armed forces and other special coercive units, the police was of little importance to the ruling elites. They felt more threatened by the likelihood of an insurgency or a coup d'etat and focussed accordingly on the military and special forces of confidence. Proper policing of the society at large was not their priority.
The weak state structure and extremely low pay pave the way for the inevitable deterioration of policing in the circumstances of fragmenting states. The police increasingly turns towards illegal remunerable activities. What has been described as "sobels" in Sierra Leone (Hills 1997: p. 47), soldiers who turn rebels at night, has its equivalent in "pobers," police officers who turn into robbers at night and not only at night. The syndrome of predatory policing is widespread in Africa and not restricted to war-torn countries. In Kenya, this expression of societal fragmentation seems to fester in extremes (Majtenyi 1996: p. 22f.) Kenya is a case of direct colonial lineage in the organisation of the police; it also exemplifies that extreme societal fragmentation and formal democratic procedures are not necessarily a contrast.
The emphasis of policing systems in Africa is towards the order-and-control end of the spectrum of police functions rather than justice and crime prevention (Hills 1996, p. 278). At the same time, in African political systems, the distinction between state and government has little tradition. Security means in the first place, regime security. Governments usually appropriate state institutions. Police and military functions are not properly separated, riot control and counter-insurgency are distinguished. The control of resources, patronage, and means of coercion come into the hands of privileged individuals, and are methods of political reward (Hills 1996). The next step, the quasi-privatisation of the state, as in Zaire (Meditz 1994:279-327), for example, is but a matter of degree, the path is prepared almost everywhere.
In fragmenting states, the coercive agents, mainly the police and the military, do not any longer provide security. The physical security decreases often dramatically, because the police and the military act locally on their own and become pobers (police-robbers) and sobels (soldier-rebels), at least part time. "Some form of localised protection becomes necessary because physical force (rather than 'traditional' moral authority) provides the only possible basis for creating limited stability in conditions of societal breakdown." (Hills 1997:35). If the state fails, as was the case in Somalia or Liberia, there is no civil order to enforce or maintain, then there is no role for the police (Hills E.A. 1996:343). Under the circumstances, the police personnel will focus on personal reproduction and survival which is not necessarily a predicament for increased violence. It marks merely the final dominance of a general private rearmament process which takes many different forms, from the local strongman who has the potential to become a warlord during conflict escalation to the international private security firm selling protection. The society turns into a web of competing militias. In the process, the perception of insecurity suffices to feed the escalation which explains the difficulties to reverse this dynamic and reinvent a state which commands the monopoly of legitimate coercion. Thus, policing takes on new private forms. Vigilant groups and militias can be seen as a form of societal adaptation to a major failing of the state security equation. The reconstruction of a legitimate state will have to account for the existing societal policing and transform them into accountable formations. But this requires an understanding that the absence of state policing is not identical wth chaos and an absence of policing. Or as Hills (1997:36) referring to the "web of radically privatised, quasivigilante security arrangements" which "provide reasonable deterrents to crime," emphasises, "policing exists in Somalia (as in most fragile and fragmented states) as an activity, rather than as an organisation."
The Evolution of the Private Security Industry: Its Impact in the Region
The apparent emergence of the private security industry is not an entirely new event. It has repeatedly been pointed out that international commerce was over long periods alone responsible for its security. The East India Company paid for its own "army." Only at the zenith of the imperialistic age did the states begin to fully shoulder the cost of maintaining the public order required to exploit the colonies. In the 19th century, big industries were dominions apart which also had their own police forces. The eventual preponderance of public law is an achievement of the early 20th century. Finally, the worldwide mining and oil industries were always known to employ special protection forces which is not surprising as they often ruthlessly pentrated into territories lying outside the functional perimeters of modern states where traditional social formations were disturbed, if not destroyed. Though the many parallels between current activities of the private security industry in sub-Saharan Africa and private coercive forces in previous periods are certainly a field worthwhile to be studied in detail, they shall not be dealt with in this context except where they were related directly to massive demobilisation as was the case with the already discussed German China connection.
Instead this analysis departs from the hypothesis that the on-going globalisation and global changes of the security equation away from the state towards private spheres are bound to determine the security order in Africa as well. The debate about weakening states losing their legitimate monopoly of coercion juxtaposes on-going changes and the regulation of violence in the constitutional welfare-state whose historical climax was represented by the social-democratic area in Western Europe during the Seventies. At no time and in no other region, did the social reality come as close to this ideal model of democratic equality.
It goes without saying that the prevailing security order in sub-Saharan African never came close to this European constitutional model, the leaders of the first hour had copied and paid lip service to. To the contrary, the dominant form of regulation in the region has been classified as neo-despotic (Trotha 1995:136f.). The neo-despotic form of regulating violence is characterised by a state whose radius of influence is limited to urban concentrations. Its jurisdiction over its subjects is rather limited. The resources of the neo-despotic states have but two main sources: customs and foreign aid. The state acts arbitrarily through local brokers, a rational bureaucracy does not exist. Instead, the bureaucracy turns into an unstable web of personalised relations. It implies that all political and administrative functions are based on personal relations forming a concentric circle around the "big man of the day" or President. The state is effectively transformed into their booty and loses any societal legitimacy. The important feature of this form of regulation in the context of the privatisation of security is the absence of an efficient public control of violence. Hence, such systems are characterised by a complex web of societal security and self-defence arrangements on the one side and the pervasiveness of certain forms of violent crime like armed smuggling, preying, and banditry, on the other. It is against this background that the impact of the secular trend to privatise security in sub-Saharan Africy must be explored.
The secular growth of the private security industry (PSI) gathered speed in the early Eighties and has accompanied since the triumphant march of neo-liberalism. Ever since, the growth rates of the sector are well above the average in industrial countries--8 per cent annual growth--and virtually exploding in transition countries--20 per cent annual growth--and in most parts of the Third World--10-30 per cent annual growth--(Nachrichten 1994). So far, the growth of the sector has been counter-cyclic. In other words, economic and political crises fuel the demand. The expansion of the PSI has three dimensions. Hitherto governmental security activities are being privatised e.g. prisons, patrolling, etc. (Christie 1994); citizens, economic actors in particular, are rapidly increasing their demand of often new types of security and intelligence services from the PSI (Wrong 1996; Galeotti 1997, 1997a); and in a climate of perceived insecurity, the commodification of security through infrastructure investments and applications of modern high-tech is spreading pervasively (Nogala 1996; Bayley 1996).
In this process the state loses cumulatively its role of guarantor of security and individual security becomes a function of disposable income. The changes in the social fabric include major transformations of the social geography with deep social segmentation. Public space turns into commercial centres and private confines, sometimes under the disguise of Private Business Districts financed through "private" taxes (Pike 1997). Gated communities spreading rapidly in the United States, in Third World capitals, and in transition countries are the most visible manifestation. While the well-to-do social strata opt for self-ghettoisation and give notice to the social contract of the constitutional welfare-state (Blakely 1997), the criminal energy directs itself against the poorer strata of the society living in an apartheid of poverty without the economic resources required to seek protection through the PSI. The polarisation between no-go areas for the public police and the appropriation of public security services by the middle and upper classes is also reinforced by corporate sponsoring of local police forces.
The boom of the PSI has a self-promoting effect. The visibility of its activities nourishes perceived insecurity, no matter what the real crime situation is like, which feeds back into the growth of the sector. Individual arming, permanent supervision, bodyguards, etc. mark the escalation towards an oligopolistic-preventive regulation of security and a gradual end of the state monopoly of coercive violence (Trotha 1995:153ff.). The new order translates economic inequality into social inequality of security. Outside the barricades of the waggon laager, an order based on violence develops, self-defence groups, rackets, youth gangs, drug cartels, etc. compete for territorial control. In the apartheid of poverty, violence becomes an integral part of the culture which develops ideologies allowing for group identification and self-respect. Religious sects, reactivated or even invented ethnicity (Dorier-April 1997) are among the vehicles of communitarian ramparts in deeply fragmented societies. The sharp borderline of "no trespassing" between the segregated spheres reinforces the prevailing trends on both sides and promotes the ideological foundations of the internal security race which is, in fact, an arms race. Not unlike the former strategic bipolar arms race, it absorbs enormous economic resources and creates jobs in the regular and the illegal economy which do not add, however, to collective welfare. The extension of this race into the informal and illegal sectors of the economy marks a major difference between the former state-centred bipolar world and the societal polarisation in the age of globalisation with its neo-liberal privatisation and international externalisation of state functions.
The analysis so far clearly shows that the growth of the PSI is a secular trend and that there is no straight causal linkage to the massive military demobilisation accompanying the end of the Cold War. However, in certain contexts, the availability of trained personnel fitted perfectly into suddenly emerging markets as in Russia, for example, or allowed the PSI to move into entirely new fields much closer to military tasks than its traditional fields of activity.
The PSI is not a capital intensive sector; it mostly works with cheap labour. Until a few years ago, the sector was characterised by thousands of small companies. But presently, a rapid transnational consolidation of the industry is taking place. Among the reasons for this concentration is the bad reputation of the sector which often brings crime from within (Redmond 1987). Also private security companies lend themselves as an ideal cover for criminal organisations and are running rackets among others. Therefore, the social capital of big internationally operating companies allowed them to rapidly increase their market share in the global market place. Borg-Warner, Pinkerton's Inc., Wackenhut, Securitas, Securior, G-4, and ISI are among the big players. But other more specialised companies have arrived on the scene, taking advantage of new opportunities in strategic consulting, military training, operational support and logistics, armed protection, and in some cases also military operations. The latter category relies heavily on demobilised personnel from special forces and on particularly qualified military officers. Executives Outcomes, DSL, and MPRI are the icons of this new category (Radio 1997; Goulet 1998).
The present circumstances in Russia are a prism of all post-Cold War trends of the PSI. While the government recognises about 5,000 firms in the sector employing 155,000 persons, independent estimates put the figure between 800,000 and 1,200,000 plus 200,000 employed by small companies without a licence. These figures compare with roughly 500,000 police related personnel. On the basis of this estimate, the conditions in Russia have caught up with the United States where the ratio is three private security officers per one police officer. Bad pay and low prestige have lured the best and brightest from among the military police and the extended security apparatuses into the better paying PSI. It is estimated that 70 per cent of officers of the infamous KGB who quit before the age of retirement have entered the PSI. Russian corporations and banks often have their own security branch; Gazprom's security service alone employs 20,000 men. The Russian PSI industry provides all services from bodyguarding, intelligence and counter-intelligence to plant protection and transport of valuables. Foreign firms said to have entered the market in partnerships are Kroll, Control Risks Group, International Security Services, Defence Systems Ltd. among others. A particular feature of the Russian PSI, typically found in weak states, are the government agencies which hire out their services to the highest bidder in an unending quest for resources and payment. And the PSI is said to pay typically four to six times the salary of a government employed security officer (Galeotti 1997a). Finally, many firms are front operations of the Mafia, though some may be in a move from open racket to formalised protection. A society fragmenting with frightening speed and a government with little legitimacy make it almost impossible to draw clear lines in Russia between state and private, between crime and the wilderness of early capitalist appropriation. There are no indications, however, that the mushrooming of the PSI has contributed to an improvement of security in Russia or to a reduction of crime: armed violence booms, smuggling is rife, etc. PSI and crime seem to be interdependent variables heading for further growth.
One result of the impudent appropriation of state property in the former Soviet Union is a large number of air transport companies prepared to provide worldwide logistical support with military transport planes, not only in regular markets. The availability of cheap demobilised, but experienced personnel in combination with weak state controls makes these companies, typically registered in some ominous tax haven, worldwide the preferred choice for illegal transports, including the logistics for on-going conflicts in Africa. There are reports of other military relevant services in maintenance, etc. being carried out by demobilised former Soviet military personnel. But it is probably due to the cultural distance and lack of international experience of demobilised Russian military personnel that so far Russian firms have not entered the market of comprehensive private military services, except as subcontractors and individuals pilots for security firms operating in Africa.
Finally, a rather specific segment of the PSI must be addressed as it will certainly play a role in sub-Saharan Africa as well. Outsourcing of foreign military policy to military advisory and training companies appears to mark a trend led by the United States which gained momentum after the end of the Cold War. For the time being, this market segment is not fully open to international competition. MPRI, Vinnell, and DynCorp are among the leading American contenders. In most cases, a certification by the State Department is required, because either the United States is financing the contracts or the contracting government explicitely pursues a strategy to get as close as possible to an involvement of the United States unwilling to send troops directly. Goulay (1998:41) resumes: "The use of a private military contractor permits Washington to project its influence quite cheaply and very quickly to countries where it would be normally difficult to send troops because of political sensitivities. Moreover, the cost of cutting any links with a foreign regime is even less expensive, as MPRI protects Washington behind a potential screen of deniability."
There is also military-related business for the PSI without indirect state sponsoring. Defence Systems Ltd. (DSL) is contracted to protect oil wells and pipelines in Colombia where a civil war makes the protection a particularly daunting task. It is most likely for this reason that former British SAS officers are involved. Moreover, the contract extended also to training of special units of the Colombian armed forces. It is thus an intriguing case of corporate sponsoring of foreign armed forces by BP through DSL.
Based on the African experience after independence, the United Nations came to condemn mercenary activities and still has a special rapporteur for the issue (Ballesteros 1994). But the unanimity behind this condemnation begins to falter. It may be argued that the US interest in the military segment of the PSI is behind the surprising shift in opinion with respect to military support missions carried out by the private sector (Shearer 1998; Howe 1998). Thus, the interventions of Executive Outcomes in Angola and Sierra Leone might well be a harbinger for future international military relations.
Against this background, it is not altogether futuristic to see political actors enhancing their military capability by internationally leasing military personnel and hardware from the private sector. In purely economic terms, such a move would resemble the rationalisation and restructuring of industrial production in the maelstrom of globalisation. But military restructuring affects the very core of the nation-state and, therefore, this trend is likely to see many modifications and interventions.
If we now look at the likely impact of the global trends on the privatisation of security in Africa, the similarities in urban African conglomerations with observations in Russia are obvious. Particularly striking are the similarities with respect to the de facto privatisation of state agents and the loss of the monopoly over legal coercion, the slow-motion demobilisation in Russia in addition to large-scale demobilisation, and the fatal role of violence as a means of economic regulation which makes bank directorship a high risk profession in Moscow.
The PSI in sub-Saharan Africa is boom business in Africa. The traditional, individually employed watchman was more a symbol of social prestige than an efficient protection against crime. He is being replaced by security firms modelled after the industry in developed countries. Many international firms have branched out into the African security market (Wrong 1996). This PSI operates in the regular economy only and depends on the monetarisation of the respective economies which is always linked to the viability of the export sectors. The demand derives from high concentration of incomes and valuable productive assets. The reports that demobilised military personnel in post-conflict situations or in slow-motion demobilisation in failing states and security personnel as moonlighters find employment in the PSI always refer to countries and sectors or regions therein which produce and export a commodity. Alternatively, the demand is fuelled by expatriates involved in externally financed development projects or humanitarian aid (International Federation 1997:chapt.2).
Thus, more than anything else, the massive presence of the PSI in African countries is an indicator of the insertion of a viable economic sector into the global economy. Putting it differently, one can argue that, in contrast to the dismal economic performance of the region as a whole, the expansion of the PSI in Africa indicates the resilience of Africa's participation in the global economy; the context, however, are otherwise polarised and deeply fragmented societies, further propping up the PSI-demand.
Africa's difference consists in the extensive informal economy and its high proportion of rural population which is only marginally integrated into monetary economic circuits. It is estimated that about half of the region's trans-border trade is not part of the regular economy (Constantin 1996:326) and defies presumption of national sovereignty. This large segment of African societies relies also on differentiated, though informal security systems of its own. From a sociological point of view, it mirrors the PSI in the modern sector. It provides roles that demobilised soldiers are just as likely to take up, if the circumstances do not allow clinging onto the modern sector after demobilisation.
To the extent the fragmentation of African societies progresses and the state functions are being hollowed out, the role of violence in playing out the confrontation between the different security arrangements in the modern and informal sectors will increase and eventually convert into the dominant mode of economic regulations. The escalation along this path will eventually be recognised as civil war. As in Russia, it is difficult to prove that the massive growth of the PSI contributes to societal security outside the limited confines of its customers.
Economic Zones or States, Whose State?
The kleptomaniac exploitation of exportable resources by the corrupt elites for their own benefit seems to have exhausted the necessary recourse of power, not least because following the end of the Cold War, the steady flow of external support has stopped except for humanitarian aid. The brokerage of these often non-requited transfers provided the central tool that kept the prevalent regimes in power or alternatively has kept an armed conflict going as has been the case in Sudan for example (Duffield 1997). Humanitarian aid has often turned into an innovative asset fuelling the economy of on-going wars by creating humanitarian sanctuaries (Rufin 1996b:27). The persistence of armed conflicts and the pervasive absence of governmental control over the national territory, what Elwart (1997) describes as spaces open to violence (gewaltoffene Raume) in the entire region is consistent with the hypothesis.
Observing the African situation, Rufin (1996a: 80; 1996b: 19-59) takes a detached view and interprets the violence and the on-going armed conflicts in the region as a step of sub-Saharan Africa finally taking possession of its own history. He supports the interpretation of Bayart who sees the present turmoil as a mode of political production whereby sub-Saharan Africa finally plays out autonomously a new political economy of the region. Most of the armed conflicts are about repositioning African resources in the world market. Reno believes that warlords who manage to be recognised as heads of state, will be the central figures in the new political economy of the continent (Reno 1998:222). He predicts that the international community will rush to give recognition to these new rulers, just as the dictators of the quasi-states during the Cold War period, like Mobutu, were recognised without batting an eyelash.
Since nobody any longer seems to give credit to the idea of forming a normal territorial state with reasonable bureaucratic structures on the basis of wide democratic consent, alternative political projects are evolving which have abandoned the Western model of a democratic state. In parallel to the decay of the quasi-states, the regular segment of most economies has been shrinking, in many cases, dramatically. However, dynamic parallel and illegal economic circulation across the region and often connected with the global economy is also an important part of the African reality. It is not being accounted for statistically and by definition organised outside the legal order, corrupted as that may be. In the absence of any law-based regulation, this circulation operates, therefore, permanently under the menace of blackmail, racket and violence. The dynamics of this situation are the origin of the profound destating and privatisation of security in the region, which eventually leads to a militarisation of the entire society.
The joint articulation of the parallel and illegal sectors results in a pervasive arming of the economic actors involved which cumulatively affects all layers of the society and the regular economy as well. Though markets are at the centre of parallel economies, just as well, no legal arbitration controls the battles over predominance. Coercion and intimidation rule over access to these markets; force is often used to deny access to unwelcome competitors. However, as battles over access escalate, politico-ideological instrumentalisation of group identities is often applied to dominate specific markets in the parallel economy. This step has great potential to eventually escalate into armed conflict, because the original economic motif to exclude others in a specific market place readily converts into a general enemy image, triggering violence not any longer related to the originally limited intention. The large numbers of internally displaced persons and refugees in the region are a tragic manifestation of such exclusion strategies (UNHCR 1997:51ff.).
Such armed conflicts are no longer only civil wars, where two or more parties fight over the hegemony of a traditional state. Instead, the battles are over economic sectors, regions, trade routes, preferably over those allowing access to the world market. In these cases, the established term intra-state war is somewhat misleading, because the conflict is over the creation and control of a new local-global economic space, which is not any longer burdened with the ballast of an exhausted territorial nation-state. And most importantly, new alliances are being formed during on-going armed conflicts between the substate, international, and supranational actors which labour in the midst of fighting to develop competitive production locations for the global market, no matter whether the access routes are legal or criminal. The local monopoly of coercion being the precondition to advance such projects makes successful warlords indispensable partners. All this is possible because in our age of deregulation, substate units are able to interact with the world market on their own and in defiance of a still existing formal state without fearing sanctions. "Taylorland," UNITA's trade networks are cases in point (Jean 1996:269ff.). Additionally, there are many shady actors in the international financial markets eager to lend the necessary capital in exchange for exploration titles.
It remains, however, attractive for a warlord who controls an economically viable territory to strive for control over the formal state, because it provides a legal cover for the ruthless appropriation of state enterprises and property titles. For a warlord being the formal head of state it becomes feasible to contract military services of the international PSI to bolster his position without running into international opposition. The United States, among others, has come to consider an intervention of the PSI as an acceptable way to stabilise conflicts by allowing one side to take all. What is needed, according to the proponents of this qualitatively new form of mercenarism, are internationally accepted rules to make sure that certain standards of humanitarian law will be respected (Howe 1998).
Contrary to the political rhetoric of warlords turned Presidents like Liberia's Taylor, there is not any longer a vision to create an integrated territorial state living up to the responsibility of providing a social infrastructure, education, etc. The externalisation of state functions like customs and certification of trade merely continues to expand, just as direct control over resources by international capital. The inclusion of security into the externalised sphere marks a new step in the process of externalisation of political accountability. This open private militarisation of security speeds the destating process in the region, though it is portrayed as stabilisation. Therefore, these scenarios become acceptable turfs for the international emergency aid industry which regularly moves in to alleviate the worst excesses of the social polarisation and the ensuing apartheid of poverty. There is no easy solution for the dilemma that the aid agencies become useful partners of the new political economy which separates Afrique util from Afrique unutil.
While the evolution of Africa's new political economy will be marked by many contradictory trends, it is possible to outline the parameters of the PSI in this process. The PSI will thrive in the monetarised export-oriented pockets of Africa's economies. Its service will be instrumental in positioning these sectors competitively in the world market, because security is a fundamental precondition to attract the foreign capital required to realise the potential wealth in the region. The economic logic of these pockets puts a premium at keeping the rest of the society at bay, in order to remain profitable. To the extent the excluded sectors contest their marginalisation, the demand for the services of the PSI is bound to diversify and escalate up to levels at which the industry is pricing itself out of the market because the competitive advantage of the respective economic zone is lost.
Demobilisation, in turn, provides a large pool of trained labour for the PSI. While demobilisation is usually associated with the end of a conflict (Kingma 1998), this paper argues that actual demobilisation of security-related personnel is a pervasive phenomenon in the region and produces an oversupply of dislocated labour as a result of slow-motion demobilisation in imploding states and post-conflict demobilisation. It is not likely that the PSI, thriving as it may be, absorbs more than a small proportion of this oversupply. This does not come as a surprise, because the PSI surges because it provides a rationalised and effective, though rather selective form of security, replacing the failed state security institutions. For the time being, international firms run by expatriates dominate the market of the PSI. One might speculate about when the many foreign trained African officers turn to become entrepreneurs and begin to create an African PSI.
Due to the general economic conditions in the region, few of the demobilised will be absorbed by the regular economy; the majority will join the ranks of the parallel economic circulation and the informal sectors in the context of weak or failing states. The resulting fragile security equations in most African states are permanently in danger of flaring up into open armed conflicts. In addition, the post-Cold War demobilisation outside the region has facilitated easy rearmament of such conflicts, because huge black markets emerged stocked with surplus weaponry from the weakly controlled arsenals of the Cold War. But also in this market place, dollars are the only currency. Thus, conflicts will concentrate on "global" spots on the continental map (Bigo 1996:413) where the local economy can be linked to global demand.
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