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One Nation Under Contract

One Nation Under Contract: The Outsourcing of American Power and the Future of Foreign Policy

Allison Stanger
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    One Nation Under Contract
    Book Description:

    International relations scholar Allison Stanger shows how contractors became an integral part of American foreign policy, often in scandalous ways-but also maintains that contractors aren't the problem; the absence of good government is. Outsourcing done right is, in fact, indispensable to America's interests in the information age.

    Stanger makes three arguments.

    •The outsourcing of U.S. government activities is far greater than most people realize, has been very poorly managed, and has inadvertently militarized American foreign policy;•Despite this mismanagement, public-private partnerships are here to stay, so we had better learn to do them right;•With improved transparency and accountability, these partnerships can significantly extend the reach and effectiveness of U.S. efforts abroad.

    The growing use of private contractors predates the Bush Administration, and while his era saw the practice rise to unprecedented levels, Stanger argues that it is both impossible and undesirable to turn back the clock and simply re-absorb all outsourced functions back into government. Through explorations of the evolution of military outsourcing, the privatization of diplomacy, our dysfunctional homeland security apparatus, and the slow death of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Stanger shows that the requisite public-sector expertise to implement foreign policy no longer exists. The successful activities of charities and NGOs, coupled with the growing participation of multinational corporations in development efforts, make a new approach essential. Provocative and far-reaching,One Nation Under Contractpresents a bold vision of what that new approach must be.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15632-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. 1 The New World
    (pp. 1-11)

    In the twentieth century, if you wanted social change you demonstrated in the streets, lobbied government, or ran for political office. As the successful strategy of the Obama campaign demonstrated, the engaged activist in the twenty-first century has other options. Technology can be deployed to unleash the force of social networks to do unprecedented things. As a result, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have never had greater power and reach. For-profit entities are becoming—or at least claiming to be—agents for social change. They have political platforms and pursue agendas that used to be the exclusive domain of government.

    Even some...

  6. 2 The United States of Market Values
    (pp. 12-33)

    Knock on the door of the federal government in 2009, and chances are that you will find nobody home. The U.S. government’s impulse to exploit the comparative advantage of the private sector, and the private sector’s responsiveness to demand for its services, have combined to replace big government with a staggeringly large shadow government. In this new world, the private sector increasingly handles the everyday business of governing.

    It is hard to grasp the scale of this shadow government. The biggest federal contractor, Lockheed Martin, which spent $53 million on lobbying and $6 million on donations from 2000 to 2006,...

  7. 3 State Power in a Privatized World
    (pp. 34-55)

    During the Cold War, the White House met the threat of nuclear weapons with deterrence and arms control summits with the Soviet Union. Weapons of mass destruction cast a shadow over the prospects for world peace, and, while they may not have done all they could, the U.S. and Soviet governments led the effort to avert nuclear catastrophe. In 2006, however, Washington did not set the agenda but took a back seat to private initiative by the megarich investor Warren Buffett.

    Buffett offered $50 million, provided the U.S. government matched it, to establish an international nuclear fuel bank under the...

  8. 4 The End of Statesmanship
    (pp. 56-83)

    The Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 ended Europe’s Thirty Years’ War between Protestants and Catholics by enshrining the principle of state sovereignty and ushering in the era of modern diplomacy. Building on that foundation in 1814–15, the Congress of Vienna brought together Europe’s great powers to forge a peace settlement based on a balance of power. The aim of great statesmen like Austria’s Metternich and Britain’s Castlereagh was to inoculate the continent against the sort of devastation in the name of universalism that Napoleon’s forces had wrought in their drive to dominate the European continent.¹ Today, while violence rages...

  9. 5 The Privatization of Defense
    (pp. 84-108)

    The use of contractors on the battlefield is as old as organized warfare. American revolutionaries fought Hessian troops-for-hire in the Revolutionary War. In the Civil War, the Union army hired British and Canadian volunteers as well as a range of immigrants aspiring to citizenship.¹ Eighty thousand contractors supported U.S. operations in Vietnam.² Hiring help to bolster American power is an American tradition. It is also wholly consistent with standard corporate practice. When an American business faces a new challenge, it typically brings in an expert team of consultants to help chart its future course. Yet the current scale of privatization...

  10. 6 The Slow Death of USAID
    (pp. 109-135)

    The Marshall Plan of 1948–51 is one of the few undeniable success stories of American foreign policy. The great infusion of aid into the war-devastated economies of western Europe came at a critical moment. Today it seems obvious that liberal democracy could well have faltered in postwar Europe were it not for the foresight of men like George C. Marshall. By rebuilding Europe’s economies, the Marshall Plan restored a market for American goods and services and diminished communism’s appeal. In so doing, the United States helped its friend Europe to get back on its feet and alleviated the suffering...

  11. 7 Laissez-Faire Homeland Security
    (pp. 136-161)

    The spectacle of government paralysis after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans in August 2005 is not easy to forget. Some of America’s most vulnerable citizens were in dire need, a major American city was devastated and partly destroyed, and our federal government seemed incapable of responding. President George W. Bush debated whether the crisis merited him cutting short his vacation. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, under the newly constituted Department of Homeland Security (DHS), was so uninformed that it seemed not even to be watching the reports on cable news. In contrast, private security firms like Blackwater and DynCorp dropped...

  12. 8 A Postindustrial Foreign Policy
    (pp. 162-184)

    Established to confront threats no longer salient, the core institutions of American foreign policy were quietly transformed as they endeavored to adapt to the information age. The preceding chapters have mapped the rise of outsourcing at the State Department, the Pentagon, USAID, and the Department of Homeland Security. These departments’ approaches to diplomacy, defense, development, and security ranged widely, but they had one feature in common. Private actors, both for-profit and not-for-profit, increasingly played roles that were once the exclusive preserve of government—so much so that a February 2007 story in theNew York Timescalled contractors “a fourth...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 185-212)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 213-230)
  15. Index
    (pp. 231-242)