The Economist reviews a new book by Africa Center Nonresident Senior Fellow Sean McFateThe Modern Mercenary: Private Armies and What They Mean for World Order:

In the pirate-infested waters off the coast of Somalia around 180 private military contractors from 35 countries work to protect international shipping. They cost as little as a tenth of the official protection provided by the governments of France, Holland and Spain. Yet they can deploy lethal force and have proved very effective; they have even formed an industry group, the Security Association for the Maritime Industry, to represent their interests.

As Sean McFate shows in a fascinating and disturbing book, “The Modern Mercenary”, the provision of private armies to the world’s conflict zones has boomed in the past 25 years. The market for these firms could evolve from a monopsony, in which the dominant buyer has been the American government, into something more open and competitive. As it does so, he argues, these armies may turn from a force that is mostly for peace into a threat.

Read the full article here.

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