[Dated 4 years ago]
The following article was previously published in WorldStar, a weekly periodical providing news and in-depth analysis focusing on international issues, politics, business, technology, and culture.

Mercenaries For Hire: Can the World Afford It?
By Loria Tem

As of last year, nearly 89% of all countries have hired the services of a private military company. Perpetual war has become its own global economy and for those who enlist the aid of PMCs (and for the PMCs themselves), business is lucrative. According to data accumulated last June by the United Health Organization, 57% of countries have engaged in some form of proxy war which, in turn, has led to profit. With new international laws giving PMCs more freedom, it seems like ‘conflict for cash’ has simply become an accepted business practice. It was recently discovered that certain megacorpations have also been hiring PMCs to conduct operations on foreign soil. Recent changes to international law have created gray areas that allow for megacorps to skirt certain legalities—this has created a newfound ‘war industry’ where countries with valuable resources, geostrategic land, and ‘uncooperative’ political leaders are in the crosshairs of big business. The threat of expansive foreign powers, once a major concern to developing countries, has been replaced by the ever-present whims of wealthy industrials, eager to broaden their reach, influence, and marketplace on a global scale.

One nation’s act of aggression against another foreign country would, in most cases, lead to retaliation. Yet, the basics of warfare have become murkier than ever. Does a country under attack by a private military force know who hired that PMC? This has created a cover for both foreign powers and megacorporations to act with impunity. To further complicate matters, the vast majority of PMCs operate as independent pseudo-states, not bound or regulated by any one country. Therefore, any direct blowback or wide-scale military counterstrike is often moot. A country being attacked by a PMC typically has one viable option—hire their own PMC to defend their soil.

Due to the presence and benefits of PMCs, national militaries across the world have decreased. Assigning military operations to private enterprises has also left politicians able to sidestep accusations of war crimes (now reported to be on the rise by 60%), while civilian deaths can be blamed on PMCs instead of national military agencies. As of this writing, not one PMC has been held accountable in international court for alleged crimes, despite overwhelming testimony from victims.

With the demand for PMCs growing daily, many private contracting companies have become massive corporations in their own right. Death Widow, Inc. is currently the leading private military in the world, with thousands of employees in the field. Cauldron Iron, which recently rebranded themselves as a private security consultant (but conducts itself no differently from any other major PMC), is currently the second-largest contractor.

With profit flowing in from all sides, analysts and experts are in agreement that the war economy is here to stay, and that the global presence of PMCs will only become more apparent in years to come.

Danger Zone One. Story by Midnight. Art by Salaiix.