A panel discussion with Douglas Brooks, Founder and President, International Peace Operations Association (IPOA); Marcela Gaviria and Martin Smith, Co-Producers, PBS/FRONTLINE documentary Private Warriors chronicling the activities of private military companies in Iraq; and William Hartung, President's fellow at the World Policy Institute and director of the Institute's Arms Trade Project. Moderated by Michael A. Cohen, Co-Project Leader, Privatization of Foreign Policy Project, World Policy Institute.
As the "era of the nation-state" gives way to the "era of the non-state actor," private actors - from wealthy philanthropists and multi-national corporations to international terrorists and even individuals - are coming to play a defining role in U.S. foreign policy. Nowhere is the traditional dividing line between public and private authority becoming more blurred than in the realm of national security. More than ever, the U.S. military is relying on the services of private military companies (PMCs) to support combat and stabilization missions essential to America's national security. In fact, it is estimated that more than 20,000 private contractors are currently serving in Iraq. The contracting of private security forces is changing the very way that combat operations are planned and executed. Operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have highlighted the substantial benefits PMCs can offer, but they have also shown that PMCs can operate in an ambiguous legal and regulatory environment that leaves open important questions about transparency, accountability and the rule of law. It is not only U.S foreign policy that is being affected - NGOs and international organizations are facing difficult questions and when and how to utilize this new and undefined fighting force- The New School
Brooks is an advocate of ethics, industry standards, regulation and transparency. Representing the industry and working with lawmakers on such regulations, Brooks is a lead advocate for legitimizing the further role of the private sector in peace and military endeavors.
Michael Cohen (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is Director of the International Affairs Program. He also works as Advisor to the Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Design, and Urban Planning of the University of Buenos Aires.
Before coming to the New School in 2001, he was a Visiting Fellow of the International Center for Advanced Studies at New York University.
Marcela Gaviria is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker with RAINmedia. Over the last 10 years she has produced over 20 documentaries for PBS FRONTLINE, including five films on post-war Iraq and four hours on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Working with veteran FRONTLINE producer and correspondent Martin Smith, Gaviria has earned nearly every major award in broadcast journalism. She is also the recipient of the 2008 Peter S. McGhee Fellowship award, which honors an individual whose work reflects excellence, intelligence, fairness, passion and scholarship. Gaviria first worked for FRONTLINE in 1994 with renowned producer William Cran on The Godfather of Cocaine, a film about the drug baron Pablo Escobar. After the production of that hour, she stayed on in her native Colombia and continued to field produce scores of documentaries for PBS and the BBC. In 1997 she was awarded a MacArthur grant to set up the first natural history filmmaking unit in Latin America. In 1999, she returned to FRONTLINE to work on the four part series, Drug Wars.
She is currently producing a one-hour film on Private Bradley Manning and Wikileaks. Gaviria was born in Bogota, Colombia, and obtained her BA from Brown University and her MA from Columbia University.
Director of the Project on the Control of the International Arms Trade at the World Policy Institute; Research associate and project director at the New York-based Council on Economic Priorities; speech writer and policy analyst for New York State Attorney General Robert Abrams.
He has appeared as a guest on national television and radio programs including CBS' 60 Minutes, the NBC Nightly News, the MacNeill/Lehrer Report, CNN's Inside Business and National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation.
Martin Smith is a leading documentary producer with over 30 years experience in television. Smith began his career at CBS News as a film editor in 1978. In 1983, Smith moved to PBS where he began producing for the PBS science series NOVA and for FRONTLINE. In 1998, Smith founded Rain Media, an independent production company in New York City.