Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Private sources of military funding

Maiah Jaskoski, ""Public Security Forces with Private Funding: Local Army Entrepreneurship in Peru and Ecuador." Latin American Research Review 47, 2 (2012): 100-119.

Note: this is a great article, but journal dissemination FAIL. I received the paper copy as part of my LASA membership, but I cannot find it anywhere online since the LARR site is months out of date.

Anyway, her argument is that the traditional notion of "mission" needs rethinking. We would expect the military to privilege missions centered on their national security priorities. In fact, that does not necessarily happen because military commanders see many opportunities for gain from private funds, such as oil or mining interests. This need not be corruption, but rather opportunity to receive vehicles, fuel, and food: "Local commanders facing severe shortages of central army funds have ordered much of this work in response to outside compensation for the security services" (p. 95).  Of particular use is the in-depth qualitative analysis, which is top notch. Over 330 interviews, for example.

She ends on a pessimistic note, arguing that this has grave consequences for civilian supremacy over the armed forces since their priorities may be skewed by private interests. I agree, though I would argue that part of the problem could be addressed simply by having civilians more involved. Soldiers are underled and underfunded by the government, not just undercontrolled, though the former contribute to the latter.


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