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Security Aesthetics from "Risk A"

Hi, I'm Frank Beauregard, a transnational consultant for GSA -- the Global Security Alliance, "Risk A" division. I'm speaking from my location in Paris to make a pitch for a Franco-American concept that is going to change an entire industry. The target audience is you: our partners, our investors, our clients, our admirers. The idea is simple: security aesthetics. The new image of safety in Europe. The new feeling of certainty at the cutting edge. Take the risk of existing with style in the chaos of the contemporary world!

Look around the planet today, or just turn on your TV. What do you see there? Babies crying, bombs bursting, buildings burning, soldiers pulling triggers, men hustling big machines. It's not a pretty picture. And after Afghanistan, after Iraq, after Lebanon, everyone knows this new military cycle is still in full swing. Everyone knows there's a fortune to be made in what we call risk management. Already, the liberalization of security services, the introduction of new technologies, the ready availability of highly trained personnel, and the range of sophisticated problems presented by assymetrical warfare have led to a massive boom in our industry. Just go into any airport, far from the battlefield, and it's all there before your eyes. That's the situation as it stands today. But we at GSA want to ask the question of tomorrow. The question of a new aesthetics for expanded security operations in the European theater.

The problem is, being a mercenary, a soldier of fortune, or what they now call a private military company, is the oldest profession in the world. And it looks like it. Archaic, dusty, unshaven, ugly. I don't mean to criticize our colleagues, the people responsible for so many innovations, whom we at GSA would like to work with, or merge with, or hopefully even own someday. But if all of us want a different industry tomorrow, after America's wars are finally over, then we have to ask the hard questions, the strategic ones, and we have to do it right now, before the competition does it for us.

Here are the questions that now face the industry. How did a brand-new British firm like Aegis snap up the coordinating contract for the US reconstruction security support services in Iraq? What's their business model? Where does it come from? And how can it be expanded, remodeled, transformed to fit a world where the struggle against war and terrorism doesn't just take the traditional face of men with guns far away in the desert, but instead extends into every moment of corporate life, and even into the very fabric of urban existence in the most prosperous Western cities? How can we put a new twist, or inject a new aesthetic, into an increasingly outdated profession?

You all know the story of the contemporary security industry, the one that stretches back to Executive Outcomes, to Sandline International, to the dodgy days of dirty wars in Angola, Sierra Leone and Papua New Guinea. You've all heard of the legendary Tim Spicer, a 50 year-old British army veteran and former Special Air Services volunteer, who fought for those companies in the mid-1990s, and is now the CEO of Aegis. Many of you have probably even heard of the elite Special Forces Club in London -- a private social organization open exclusively to current and former members of the special forces and intelligence communities of Britain, the US and selected Allied states. You're all aware of the extraordinary revolving door between official army commands and these former SAS men; and none of you can ignore the ease with which the British government can "mix and match" its regular forces and these special market operators, to address conflict situations that threaten its major corporations anywhere in the world. These are the unique combinations of national history and individual intelligence that have catapulted British firms to their new role as purveyors of imperial expertise to the American state itself -- to the point where a British outfit like Aegis can now give orders to Kellog Brown and Root, or DynCorp, and even set the rules of engagement for the elite units of Blackwater, which is the leading private military company in the USA today.

But what you probably don't know is that Aegis, with Tim Spicer at the helm, is already looking beyond the Iraq war, and lobbying for new legislation to shore up the leading position of the British risk-management firms. Aegis wants to formalize the private-public partnerships that currently exist on a de facto level between companies like itself and the UK government. They want to make corporate warfare into a legal and legitimate reality, and to spin off their military savoir-faire into every branch of privatized security. They want to make the British desert rat into the uncontested expert and arbiter of safety on the streets, not only of Iraq, but of London, Paris, Munich, Berlin and every other European city. This, ladies and gentlemen, partners, investors, clients and admirers, is the moment for a different kind of vision -- and the perfect time for GSA's "Risk A" division to intervene.

The thing is, as you know, that the Anglo-American war is not going very well right now -- not very well indeed. Does the British desert rat really have the savoir-faire to make the European nightclub-goer feel safe out on the streets? Well, they certainly don't make us feel very safe in the London underground, now do they? But let's put the question another way. Would you entrust your capital to a traditional mercenary operation, when security on the Continent is at stake? Do you see a future for the dogs of war inside the European Union?

GSA doesn't think so. We believe that enormous fractions of capital, even in the USA, are uncomfortable to say the least with the situation as it stands today. We believe that even before the inevitable collapse of the dollar, enormous international transfers will take place. We believe that the Old Continent, with its healthy single currency, is now uniquely poised to provide a new safe-haven for investment, with a growth market of potentially monumental proportions. But for that, we will need at least two things. The first, of course, is tranquility on the streets: without bombs going off, but without any goose-stepping soldiers there either. And the second is style, the style that the Old Continent thrives on, the real spice of life in good old Europe!

This is where an American businessman like myself has everything to learn from our French colleagues. Have you noticed their attitude toward the Iraq war? Do you see any bombs going off in their metros? Don't we need to take a lesson from Yves Saint-Laurent, from Jean-Paul Gaultier? Don't we need to do for security what Jacques Lang did for culture, what François Mitterand did for politics? Surely you know what I mean: a very profitable business beneath an urbane, artistic veneer!

GSA's Risk A division has this vision of the future: security that you don't see, the power to influence results invisibly. We want you to look good, to feel fine, and above all, to stay clean, while all the dirty work is done behind the scenes. We think countries like Luxembourg, or Switzerland, or Germany itself, would pay enormously for this kind of oblivion. We can imagine and even implement an urban condition where security operations take the form of a vernissage, a fashion parade, a Mayday march, or why not even an Oktoberfest? Our agents can be everywhere, and your citizens don't even need to see them. All you need to do is follow the British example, and legalize every form of private security provision, even the most intrusive spy operations or the most violent expulsions of aliens outside the border, just like they do in France today -- but forget the desert rats, forget the dogs of war. Take Yves Saint-Laurent instead, take Jean-Paul Gaultier!

Do you think that's risqué? Would you take the risk of doing business any other way?

: GSA provides a rich spectrum of system solutions and individual applications for a diversity of requirements. The broad range of task reaches from issues of security esthetics, symbolic and mental defense, to consensual manipulation, deep structural analysis and artistic personal protection.

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