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Book Review

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This is a review of Paul Verkuil's new book: Outsourcing Sovereignty: Why Privatization Threatens Democracy and What we Can Do About It. The book consists of a wide-ranging and well-documented critique of what Verkuil views as excessive reliance on private contractors to perform a variety of inherently governmental tasks, with particular emphasis on military and other national security functions. Verkuil discusses in detail numerous ways in which the U.S. might reduce the scope and severity of the severe problems that excessive reliance on poorly-supervised contractors is now having.

Pierce praises Verkuil's description and documentation of the problem he addresses in the book, but he expresses skepticism with respect to the likely efficacy of the remedies Verkuil discusses. Pierce proposes two other remedies that he believes would at least enhance the efficacy of the remedies Verkuil proposes - election of a President with better judgment than George W. Bush and congressional refusal to immunize private contractors from potential civil and criminal liability. Pierce also suggests, however, that downsizing and outsourcing military functions has had an important beneficial effect - it has limited the ability of the U.S. to invade and to occupy countries that displease the U.S., thereby reducing to two the five or six countries the U.S. might have attempted to invade and to occupy if it had a more robust military capability.

GW Paper Series

GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 360; GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 360

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