US narratives of privatemilitaryandsecuritycompanies in Iraq
While many of us wanted to be a pirate in our childhood or had sympathies
with rebels such as Che Guevara in our teenage years, very few people wanted
to be a mercenary or privatemilitaryandsecuritycompany (PMSC) operative when they were young. And still nobody seems to like PMSCs. As Kateri
Carmola (2010: 9) points out, ‘whatever they are, we do not like them’. At least
since reports broke out of several fatal shootings in post-invasion Iraq – including the killing of seventeen civilians by
This book is a story about the importance of stories in International Relations. It brings insights from Literary Studies and Narratology into IR and political science by developing a new discourse analytical method of narrative analysis. Focusing on the three narrative elements of setting, characterization and emplotment, the book argues that narratives are of fundamental importance for human cognition and identity construction. Narratives help us understand the social and political world in which we live. The book emphasizes the idea of intertextual narratability which holds that for narratives to become dominant they have to link themselves to previously existing stories. Empirically the book looks at narratives about pirates, rebels and private military and security companies (PMSCs). The book illustrates in the case of pirates and rebels that the romantic images embedded in cultural narratives influence our understanding of modern piracy in places like Somalia or rebels in Libya. Dominant romantic narratives marginalize other, less flattering, stories about these actors, in which they are constituted as terrorists and made responsible for human rights violations. In contrast, in the case of PMSCs in Iraq the absence of such romantic cultural narratives makes it difficult for such actors to successfully narrate themselves as romantic heroes to the public.
The introduction outlines the overall argument of the book that narratives in international politics cannot be freely changed or manipulated by narrators, but that narratives have to conform or at least connect to previously existing ones. The acceptance of narratives is contingent on the intertextuality of the narratives being told and those embedded amongst the audience. The introduction briefly embeds narrative analysis in a wider field of discursive approaches in IR, and then elaborates on the role of the media and cultural artefacts in the articulation of stories in international politics. Finally, the introduction outlines the structure of what is to follow in the remaining empirical chapters on German narratives of pirates in Somalia, British narratives of rebels in Libya and US narratives of private military and security companies in Iraq.
: Föderalistische oder
hierarchische Ordnung (1648–1684) (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1993), p. 19;
Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde, ‘Der Westfälische Frieden und das Bündnisrecht
der Reichsstände’, Der Staat 8.4 (1969), 449–478; Heinhard Steiger, ‘Die
Träger des ius belli ac pacis 1648–1806’, in Staat und Krieg: Vom Mittelalter bis zur Moderne, ed. by Werner Rösener (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck &
Ruprecht, 2000), pp. 115–135; Kyle M. Ballard, ‘The Privatization of Military
Affairs: A Historical Look into the Evolution of the Private Military Industry’,
of political actors such as pirates, rebels and privatemilitaryandsecuritycompanies which are to be analysed in the chapters to follow.
Literary studies and narratology
Literary studies and narratology commonly stress that narratives can be found
in almost every realm of human life where someone tells us about something. As
Arthur Berger (1997: 1) highlights, ‘[w]e seldom think about it, but we spend
our lives immersed in narratives. Every day, we swim in a sea of stories and tales
that we hear or read or listen to or see (or some