Ethics and International Affairs 22 (2):143–162 (2008)
The use of private military companies (PMCs) has become increasingly prevalent, with such firms as Blackwater, MPRI, and DynCorp taking over a growing number of roles traditionally performed by the regular military. This article uses the framework of just war theory (JWT) to consider the central normative issues raised by this privatization of military force. In particular, I first examine the claim that private contractors are inappropriate actors to wage war because they contravene the JWT principle of right intention. The next section asserts that the use of PMCs is largely consistent with the application of the principle of legitimate authority but undermines two of its central rationales. In the third section, I apply the jus in bello principle of discrimination to PMC personnel. Overall, I argue that JWT needs to be updated and extended to respond to the issues raised by the privatization of military force.
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