Gazes into the crystal ball to forecast what the future of war looks like in a world dominated by private armies.
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. Arduino unpacks the tradeoffs involved when conflict is increasingly waged by professional outfits that thrive on chaos rather than national armies. This 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. Individual stories narrated by mercenaries, military trainers, security entrepreneurs, hackers, and drone pilots are used to introduce themes throughout. Arduino concludes 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.
The book follows private security contractors that take on missions in different countries with a variety of challenges. First-hand data and intimate knowledge of the actors involved in the market for force allow a fully grounded narrative with personal input. Through this prism, readers will gain a better understanding of the human, security, and political risks that are part of this industry. The book specifically reveals the risk that unaccountable mercenaries pose in increasing the threshold for conflict, the threat to traditional military forces, the corruption in political circles, and the rising threat of proxy conflicts in the US rivalry with China and Russia.
Dr. Alessandro Arduino's expertise spans two decades in China, where he specializes in risk analysis and crisis management. With a focus on Belt and Road Initiative security, private military and security companies, cyber security, combat UAVs, and China's political economy in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Arduino is an affiliate lecturer at the Lau China Institute at King's College London, a fellow at the China Africa Research Initiative at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a member of the advisory group for the International Code of Conduct Association.
Foreword by Sean McFate
Chapter 1: Private Armies
Chapter 2: From Russia with Love: Mercenaries Fit the Bill
Chapter 3: Russian Grey Is the New Black
Chapter 4: Mercenaries' Russian Roulette
Chapter 5: Private Security with Chinese Characteristics: No More Local Guards, Not Yet Wolf Warriors
Chapter 6: Defending the Belt and Road Initiative from Africa to the Middle East
Chapter 7: How China Sees Its Own Private Security Sector
Chapter 8: The Evolution of a New Chinese Security Actor
Chapter 9: Turkey's New Janissaries
Chapter 10: Drone Mercenaries: A New Security Paradigm from China, Russia, and Turkey
Chapter 11: Drone Warfare: Lessons Learned?
Chapter 12: Drone Casus Belli
Chapter 13: Cyber Mercenaries: From Boots on the Ground to the Metaverse
Chapter 14: Two Opposites: None-Combatant Contractors and Jihadist Mercenaries
Chapter 15: Mercenaries, PMSCs, and the Future of Warfare
Appendix I: From Mercenary to Cyber-Mercenary: A Timeline
Appendix II: The Duma and Russian PMSCs
Appendix III: The Evolution of Chinese Private Security Laws and Regulations and the Data Security Law
Security consultant Arduino debuts with an exhaustive examination of governments’ increasing reliance on mercenaries, arguing that a new ‘anarchy’ is taking hold internationally.... He covers major state players in the mercenary market, including the U.S., China, Russia, and Turkey, and describes the typical uses for mercenaries, including operating as private security contractors, aiding citizens during natural disasters, and maintaining ‘plausible deniability’ in foreign military engagements. Arduino discusses each country’s history with mercenaries, assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the available troops, and highlights unique issues such as China’s problem with impostors—mercenaries who falsely identify themselves as former Gurkhas or Mossad agents.... He also addresses new developments in warfare, mainly cyberattacks and drone assassinations, that further obfuscate just who is fighting whom, and which are increasingly outsourced to contractors.... Readers will be intrigued to learn about this understudied phenomenon.
This is an important and timely book on an emerging issue. China is now a major player in foreign investment, regularly in places with considerable risk. It is no surprise that private security is part of this, but high standards and professionalism are key to avoid reputational risk.
Move over Blackwater and Eric Prince. Russian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern mercenaries and private armies demand their share of the pie. That is the story of Money for Mayhem. With unique access, Alessandro Arduino weaves a tale that is must-reading for understanding the way warfare is evolving with mercenaries, private armies, and technological innovation taking centerstage.
The most consequential book I've read in some time about mercenaries. Arduino lays out many of the actors and why they fight, and his knowledge of China’s emerging private security industry is second to none.
Money for Mayhem is a very timely and exceptionally important contribution to today’s understanding of the new wave of private military contractors in armed conflicts globally. A must-read for a better understanding of the trends, challenges, and possible solutions to manage the impact and fallout of the activities of these private actors.
6/27/23, South China Morning Post: Author Alessandro Arduino pens an op-ed about the Wagner revolt in Russia and the book is included in his byline.
7/1/2023, The Wall Street Journal: Author Alessandro Arduino is quoted in an article about Chinese security firms and the book is mentioned.
7/19/23, Foreign Policy: Alessandro Arduino wrote a piece about the Wagner revolt and what it means for China in Africa. The book is included in his byline.
10/5/23, Choice: This title was featured in the “Forthcoming Titles in Political Science and Economics 2023” roundup.