Everything gets privatised nowadays, including killing people, but hiring security companies in war zones is something we expect the CIA to do. Now those geeky Germans are in on it too.
I’ve only ever interviewed someone with a gun once. He was called Horst Rütten, a former navy man who seemed to think his office in Hamburg was not as safe as it looked. He carried a pistol with him, but the effect was ruined a bit by the fact that he carried it in one of those cases that tourists attach to their belts to keep their mobile phones.
Horst runs a private security company in Hamburg, and one of the things he provides is a team of five well-trained likely lads to guard your cargo ship against pirates. Officially, you’re not meant to allow hired guns onto your ship – at least the German shipping association advises against it – but it is not illegal.
Similarly, the German government advises against German security firms sending one hundred ex-soldiers to go and fight for a Somali warlord. But the company Asgaard, made up of former Bundeswehr people, has just signed a deal with one such “opposition leader” to fight against the UN-supported government in Somalia, guarded by African Union troops trained by current German soldiers.
Effectively, former German soldiers are fighting new ones. As much as this raises the impression that Germans haven’t got the hang of using naked capitalism to serve their own military purposes, it is still alright. Considering that all armies are basically hired killers anyway, maybe in some madcap way Asgaard are doing this, and the government is allowing it to happen, just to keep the economy going.
Horst Köhler (I’m all about Horsts this week) sacked himself the other day for saying that Germany was at war to protect its economic interests – not a very controversial point, and not worth jacking it all in over. Maybe he was just bored of being President of Germany – unsurprising, seeing as it is the most nondescript political office ever invented. The Belgian minister for chairs gets out of bed every day by reminding himself that he is not the German president.
He should have said that war IS the economy, and the economy is war, and then recited some TS Eliot and explained that space travel is impossible because you can’t land on a fraction. Then he could have sacked everyone else and unleashed his private army of Horsts. They’d be a host of Horsts, I suppose.