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February 2, 2024

Money for Mayhem

Mercenaries, Private Military Companies, Drones, and the Future of War

Event Series: China and the Global South

Showing the Money for Mayhem: Mercenaries, Private Military Companies, Drones, and the Future of War Video

The way war is waged is evolving quickly—igniting the rapid rise of private military contractors who offer military-style services as part of their core business model. When private actors take up state security, their incentives are not to end war and conflict but to manage the threat only enough to remain relevant. In Money for Mayhem: Mercenaries, Private Military Companies, Drones, and the Future of War (2023), Alessandro Arduino unpacks the tradeoffs involved when conflict is increasingly waged by professional outfits that thrive on chaos rather than by national armies. In this event, Arduino reviewed how the book charts the rise of private military actors from Russia, China, and the Middle East using primary source data, in-person interviews, and field research amongst operations in conflict zones around the world. Arduino concluded by considering today’s trajectories in the deployment of mercenaries by states, corporations, or even terrorist organizations and what it will mean for the future of conflict.

This event was co-sponsored by the Africa-China Initiative and the Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues.


Alessandro Arduino is an affiliate lecturer at the Lau China Institute, King's College London, and a member of the International Code of Conduct Association (ICoCA) advisory group. He is a renowned expert on security concerns pertaining to China's Belt and Road Initiative projects and China's political economy in Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

John A. Lechner (discussant) is an analyst concentrating on the politics of Russia, Turkey, and African nations, with a special focus on conflict in the Central African Republic. Previously, he worked as part of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan federal government advisory body.

Paul Nantulya (discussant) is a research associate at the Africa Center, where he researches and prepares written analysis on contemporary Africa security issues. His areas of expertise include Chinese foreign policy, China-Africa relations, African partnerships with Southeast Asian countries, mediation and peace processes, the Great Lakes region, and East and Southern Africa.