In my latest column for UnHerd I chart the rise of private military and security companies (PMSCs) — the modern version of mercenarism. There’s much talk these days about the infamous Wagner Group, Putin’s “private army” that is playing a leading role in Ukraine. But Wagner is just the tip of the iceberg. The corporate security and military industry is a global and growing phenomenon, with the West leading the way. In 2022, the PMSC sector — whose largest businesses are American and British — was valued at $260 billion and is projected to reach a value of around $450 billion by 2030. Ultimately, the growth of the PMSC sector is just another example of how economic transformations in recent decades have blurred the boundary between the public and private-corporate sphere to the point of making it indistinguishable.
I also have a new piece up at Compact, where I argue that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may be immoral, but it cannot be considered irrational or unprovoked, as the Western narrative contends. In fact, it may be seen as a rational response to the Western encirclement of Russia’s borders that began during the dissolution of the Soviet Union and continued to the eve of the war. By that point, events in Ukraine had reached a tipping point, and were plausibly understood by Russia’s leadership to represent an existential threat to its survival. The point is not to justify Russia’s actions in Ukraine; the point is to understand how we got into this mess, because that’s the only way of getting out of it. Appreciating the rational motivations that drove Russia to invade, and acknowledging the responsibilities of all the parties involved, including the West, are preconditions for reaching a solution capable of putting an end to the humanitarian disaster in Ukraine — which must necessarily involve credible security guarantees for both Ukraine and Russia. Read the article here.