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Experts convene at Middlebury College Oct. 9 to discuss privatization of American national security

September 30, 2004

Middlebury, Vt.-With national elections just around the corner, the debate over the war on terror, the war in Iraq, and the privatization or "outsourcing" of American national security has intensified in the United States.  On Saturday, Oct. 9, policy experts from the U.S. government, military and private sectors, and academia will gather at the Rohatyn Center for International Affairs at Middlebury College for a day-long conference titled "The Privatization of American National Security" to explore this topic.  All conference events are open only to Middlebury College faculty, staff, students and alumni, but journalists are encouraged to attend. 

Co-sponsored by Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Studies and the Rohatyn Center, the conference will bring together such experts as Harvard University's Michael Ignatieff; John Hamre, president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington; Gen. Ed Soyster, special assistant to the secretary of the Army; William Dobson, managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine; retired Army Gen. William Odom, former director of the U.S. National Security Agency and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute; Charles MacCormack, president and chief executive officer of Save the Children Federation and a 1963 Middlebury College graduate; and Anne-Marie Slaughter, Woodrow Wilson School dean.

Conference participants will discuss such timely questions as: To what degree has U.S. national security been privatized out of government hands to corporations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other groups? Has the U.S. gone too far?  What kind of limits should policy makers impose when outsourcing American national security? How can private actors be held accountable for protecting U.S. interests as well as following the rules and laws of combat?  What is the framework for thinking about privatized foreign policy?  Participants will also discuss related security topics in the context of warfare, post-war reconstruction and development. 

Conference co-organizer Allison Stanger, director of Middlebury's Rohatyn Center for International Affairs, commented: "The conference will examine the implications of privatization for American national security and the costs and benefits associated with it.  With the extensive use of private military firms in Iraq and the involvement of American contractors in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, the topic could not be more important or timely." 

Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School and Princeton Project Co-director Anne-Marie Slaughter concurred.  "Privatization issues are an important part of what has changed in the foreign policy landscape, not only the privatization of military services but also of aid and development services provided through NGOs," Slaughter said.

During the day-long conference, expert panels will examine the forces pushing privatization and discuss what functions have been privatized and why, as well as consider the long and short-term effectiveness of privatized security efforts, and discuss the reconstruction of Iraq in comparison with other nation-building endeavors.   In addition, conference participants will consider the question of whether or not foreign policy by proxy is a destabilizing force, and what the costs and benefits are to privatizing American national security. 

All sessions of the conference will take place at the Middlebury College Rohatyn Center for International Affairs, located in the Robert A. Jones '59 House on Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125) in Middlebury.  All conference events are open only to Middlebury College faculty, staff, students and alumni, but journalists are encouraged to attend.  For a complete conference schedule, please visit

The conference is part of a series of events organized by the Woodrow Wilson School's Princeton Project on National Security.  The Princeton Project is a nonpartisan effort funded by the Ford Foundation to strengthen and update the intellectual underpinnings of U.S. national security strategy.


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