Handbook on the Economics of Conflict
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Handbook on the Economics of Conflict

Edited by Derek L. Braddon and Keith Hartley

The Handbook on the Economics of Conflict conveys how economics can contribute to the understanding of conflict in its various dimensions embracing world wars, regional conflicts, terrorism and the role of peacekeeping in conflict prevention.
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Chapter 20: The Reprivatization of War

Stefan Markowski and Peter Hall


Stefan Markowski and Peter Hall 20.1 INTRODUCTION In the history of armed conflicts, state control over the application of coercive force is a relatively recent phenomenon. From a historic perspective, private (non-state) agencies have dominated the organization of military activity. In this chapter, we are interested to explore what determines the extent to which the conduct and pursuit of conflict-related activities is contracted out to private providers. The chapter draws on recent US war experience in Iraq and Afghanistan and its title captures the essence of what we wish to emphasize here: the scope for private sector involvement in military conflicts as opposed to peacetime support for the military. The modern democratic, capitalist state, based on private ownership of productive assets and recognition of individual entitlements to gains from specialization and trade, has evolved as an institution designed to reduce the scope for internal conflicts among its members. Much effort has been expended on the design of economic institutions, such as systems of enforceable property rights, which prevent and/or resolve conflicts by rewarding mutually advantageous forms of activity, deterring free-riding and predatory behaviour. However, ultimately, the state may use force to secure individual compliance with state-determined norms of acceptable behaviour or to protect individual and collective property rights. In democracies, the monopoly of force, in particular the legal right to use lethal force against those regarded as dysfunctional members of the polity, has been the sole prerogative of the state and only the state may sanction armed violence threatening human...

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