Could a private company do a better job in places like Iraq and Afghanistan than the U.S. government?

That was the question I set out to explore with my Justice Incorporated series, of which the first novel, Justice, Inc., has just been released.

Justice Inc cover

It’s an idea that’s been in the news recently, because of a plan that Erik Prince, founder and former CEO of Blackwater, developed and presented to the President. After 16 years in Afghanistan and trillions of dollars spent with no end in sight, Prince thinks the efficiency of private enterprise could offer the administration a possible solution.

Writing in the New York Times (boo, hiss), Prince explains:

“Just as no one criticizes Elon Musk because his company SpaceX helps supply American astronauts, no one should criticize a private company—mine or anyone else’s—for helping us end this ugly multigenerational war.”

But his idea isn’t really a new one (which he readily admits, even referencing the Flying Tigers—private, non-military volunteers who fought the Japanese in WW2—as a good example).

In fact, extremist libertarians and anarchocapitalists like myself have been thinking about and advocating similar solutions for years.

The idea really caught my imagination after I watched a documentary about how a South African military firm called Executive Outcomes had, with just a couple hundred men, completely ended a bloody civil war in Sierra Leone and crushed the previously undefeated rebel army.

It’s a fascinating story and I recommend you watch the whole documentary.

It’s also a story, unfortunately, with a sad, though instructive, ending: bowing to UN pressure and anti-“mercenary” hysteria, the government of Sierra Leone ended its contract with Executive Outcomes and brought in UN peacekeepers instead. The peacekeepers proved ineffective (and 40 times more expensive) and the rebels re-armed and overran the capital shortly after, slaughtering tens of thousands.  

Years later, as the war still raged, surveys within the country showed huge numbers of people wanted the “mercenaries” to return.

With Executive Outcomes on the brain, I had a chance geopolitical discussion with my CEO about the continued existence of third-world dictatorships. How could the Mugabes of the world continue ruling if any competently trained and armed western force could topple them in five minutes flat (I exaggerate, but not by a lot)?

He mused that a nonprofit-type organization could collect donations to fund military action against murderous despots.

Being quite taken with the theories of people like David Friedman, I wondered if such an operation could be run as a for-profit.

But I wasn’t clear at all on how it would work.  The steps in my mind looked like:

1. Topple bloodthirsty dictator
2. ???
3. Profit!

So I actually did quite a bit of research into past and present private military corporations and other security enterprises, and their costs and revenues (including reading books like Prince’s Civilian Warriors) to see if such a thing was even feasible.

I decided it would be, and the idea excited me enough to form the basis for a series of novels beginning, as I mentioned, with Justice, Inc.

Most of these numbers and this research won’t be explicit in the novel, but it’s all working under the surface to present as plausible and realistic a story as possible.

I’m definitely excited to delve deeper into this concept in books two and three, and hope you’ll join me when I do.

Justice, Inc.  is out now and available at Amazon.

Check it out!

(And if you’d like to sample the series before committing your hard earned money, a free prequel short story, The Contractors, is also available at Amazon.)