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Decommodification of Security

AB interesting proposition would come about from the recommodification of security. What if Japan paid the US outright for its security coverage, it would hire the US as a mercenary force in the style of the old Italian and Carthegian states. Then the US wouldn’t have to maintain a rhetoric of supporting democracy and wasting efforts of legitimacy, instead it would simply supply security to whoever needed it. Now this proposition obviously undermines US claims to status of world hegemon, the US gets political compliance to its demands as well as economic openness. The benefits of being hegemon of decommodifying security provisions is that instead of being paid in money in return you are paid in favors and political preponderance and preferential treatment. but the US also likes to see itself a security provider, an umbrella protector for its allies, the legitimacy of this status is a liberal one, but I would be interested in pushing an alternate framework to define and order the US relationship with its security dependents. There is a possible utility for just paying the US as a security provider and avoiding the complication of political hegemony that come with a decommodified security provision. This would take the politics out of security, which may not be a good thing, but it benefits the US by paying the costs of the role it plays as security provider, and it benefits the client countries by giving them the autonomy and flexibility that companies give to clients.

I mean clearly I haven’t thought this through. How would you guarantee a merchant based style of army procurement wont lead that country to overtake your own? The Romans proved the utility of a martial force of civilians over the merchant force of the Carthaginians, as did the nation states over the Italian and German city states and leagues. But what are the benefits of hiring a merchant force?

First look at whether it is possible, today with Iraq war we see that perhaps private companies have developed enough to supplement standing armies, (See UAE), the age of the standing army with mass ranks is closing, the age of the professionalized military is emerging, smaller size and higher capital investments mean that the structural factors are shifting the weight back to the opportunity for merchant armies to develop again. But what of the US as a merchant army in a way the Swiss pikemen were? That is different from saying you supplement your national army with mercenaries, or your local militia with mercenaries.  This is seeing a state become security provider according to market. Obviously this is the last phase of neoliberalism perhaps. US would never sell its protective force to North Korea. But if the liberal argument is right this should lead to greater peace, more secure states with less interference from great powers.

In the end all this amounts to is wishful thinking about the end of great power games and the emergence of great power companies. Kind of a stupid idea.

For commodification definitions see Polanyi and Esping Andersen

Categories: Uncategorized
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