In This Review

Mercenaries: An African Security Dilemma
Mercenaries: An African Security Dilemma
Edited by Abdel-Fatau Musah and J. Kayode Fayemi
Pluto Press, 2000, 349 pp

This pioneering work seeks to publicize the alarming trend toward government hiring of private military companies (PMCS) in African countries. These companies step in when weak governments face challenges from rebel groups and can no longer count on armed intervention by former Cold War benefactors. PMCS began proliferating in Africa in the early 1990s and now operate in dozens of countries, where they organize weapons transfers, train palace guards, form business partnerships with shady politicians, police mineral-extraction sites, and often take payment for their services in mining concessions and oil contracts. Many are run by South Africans, Serbs, and Israelis with dubious human rights records who have successfully interpreted political instability as a market opportunity and positioned themselves adroitly in that market. As they expertly survey the legal, political, economic, and moral issues of "mercenarism," the authors argue that the best hope for arresting it lies in regional cooperation among African governments led by Nigeria and South Africa and organizations such as the Economic Community of West African States and the Southern African Development Community.