The Guns for Hire podcast is a production of the Atlantic Council’s North Africa Initiative. Taking Libya as its starting point, it examines the causes and implications of the growing use of mercenaries in armed conflict.

The podcast features guests from many walks of life, from ethicists and historians to former mercenary fighters. It seeks to understand what the normalization of contract warfare tells us about the world as we currently find it, but also about the future of the international system and about what war could look like in the coming decades.

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Season 2

Season 2 looks at foreign mercenary activity in a range of conflicts, from Americans in Yemen to Columbians, Indians and Nepalis in Ukraine. It asks whether being a mercenary is legal and considers the ways in which applicable law might evolve. It also asks what lessons emerge from successive white mercenary interventions in Africa in the 1960s and 1970s.

Season 1

Season 1 asks what makes mercenaries different from regular soldiers, practically and morally, and if there is a distinction to be made between mercenaries and private military companies. It discusses specific case studies, including mercenary activity in Libya, Ukraine and Syria, and examines the strategic significance of particular companies, such as the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group. It also seeks to understand the cases for and against mercenaries, as well as the mercenary experience.

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Through our Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative, the Atlantic Council works with allies and partners in Europe and the wider Middle East to protect US interests, build peace and security, and unlock the human potential of the region.

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