Papua New Guinea's Sandline affair provides the most dramatic illustration of militarization among the Pacific Island states. Although this was the first resort to mercenaries, there have been other examples of PNG governments hiring private military contractors for assistance in internal security matters. Recent years have seen an increasing reliance on militaristic solutions to crime and other forms of conflict. This trend is partly a response to the well-documented weaknesses of the police and defense forces. Political leaders have shown a marked preference for "tough," "quick-fix" solutions. Reliance on militaristic responses can, at one level, be viewed as a way of compensating for state weakness by relying on its ostensibly strongest aspect. At the same time, the militaristic orientation of government actions in this area cannot be separated from wider societal tolerance of violence as a strategy for resolving conflict. Militaristic solutions have not only failed to resolve problems of order but have often ended up aggravating them. They have also had a debilitating impact on many of the government agencies concerned. Ministerial autonomy allows senior political leaders to initiate and pursue militaristic schemes that have often been little more than vehicles for the advancement of the individual leader's electoral and other interests. Such initiatives in the area of internal security illustrate the reinforcing nexus between political patronage and the weakness of the PNG state.
|Journal||The Contemporary Pacific|
|Publication status||Published - 1999|