Corporate Warriors: Teaching Guide


Corporate Warriors has been used as a course book in a variety of venues, from undergraduate introductory classes to international relations to more specialized graduate courses in international security, international law, and even business ethics. Below are a series of discussion questions, as well as audiovisual resources, that many professors have found useful in teaching courses that relate to Corporate Warriors.


Potential Questions for Class Discussion/Essay Assignments

  • Why do you think private military contractors have been used in greater numbers in places like Iraq? In what way have contractors been a help to the military? In what ways have they hindered the overall mission? What is your final assessment of them?

  • Many think that what is going on today with private contractors is an echo to the use of mercenaries and other uses of private troops in history. How is today’s situation comparable to a time of the past? How is it different? Based on past events, how do you see the future unfolding?

  • Watch the following homemade music videos, posted by supporters and critics of private military firms:

    Homemade music video, pro-industry:

    Homemade music video, anti-industry:

    Which do you find most persuasive and why? Are these types of efforts at shaping pubic opinion effective?

  • What roles in fighting wars should be handled by the military and what should be outsourced?

  • Watch this video of President Bush in 2006 being questioned by a Johns Hopkins University student about private military contractors:

    Imagine you are a member of President Bush’s staff and have been asked to follow-up on this issue of how to ensure contractor accountability. What would you recommend?

  • What does the rise of the private military industry say about the future of war?

  • The following video was reputedly made by contractors of the Aegis firm in Iraq, who set footage of their missions to an Elvis song and then posted it on the Internet: 

    Were the actions in this video justified or not? Why or why not? What should be done by the U.S. government in response? What should the company do?

  • Watch the following videos on tracing funds spent in Iraq:

    Halliburton commercial—message from CEO

    Clip from film Iraq for Sale about Halliburton 

    60 Minutes report on Iraq funds

    Do contractors save money or not? Why or why not?

  • Watch the following movie trailer for Shadow Company, a documentary made by a filmmaker, whose college friend joined a private military firm in Iraq:

    If one of your friends announced that they were joining a private military firm, what advice would you give them?

  • What is your sense of the difference between “contractors” and “mercenaries?” Is there one?

  • The military has long been a unique job, the only one for example to have its own legal system and the only one in which one is expected to both fight and even die. In democracies, military service is also traditionally linked with ideals of citizenship. How does the rise of this new industry of private military firms affect the public military profession?

  • You are a member of the UN Security Council. The UN finds itself unable to attract enough troops to be sent into a place where civilians are being killed in large number. A PMF offers to do the job, if sufficient payment is allotted. Do you propose the option to the council? What are the arguments for and against?

  • Watch the following homemade music video about Blackwater’s presence in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina:

    Should the U.S. government hire private military firms to work inside the U.S., as after Katrina? Why or why not?

  • What academic theories appear to be bolstered by the rise and use of the private military industry? Are there any that are now questioned?

  • What does the rise of the private military industry say about the role of nation-states in global security in the 21st century?

  • You have been asked by the UN to develop a framework for international law on the issue of privatized military firms. Should the industry be banned or not? If so, who would enforce it? If not, who should be allowed to hire the firms or not? Who should be allowed to work in the firms or not? What sort of controls and consequences should be included in the law?

  • What will the private military industry look like 20 years from now?