Dr. Sean McFate is an author, novelist and foreign policy expert. He is a professor of strategy at the National Defense University and Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Additionally, he is an Advisor to Oxford University’s Centre for Technology and Global Affairs. McFate’s career began as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army’s storied 82nd Airborne Division, and then he became a private military contractor. He has dealt with warlords in the jungle, raised small armies, rode with armed groups in the Sahara, conducted strategic reconnaissance for oil companies, transacted arms deals in Eastern Europe, and helped prevent an impending genocide in the Rwanda region. He is the author of several books, including The New Rules of War: Victory in the Age of Durable Disorder (2019). McFate co-wrote the novels Shadow War and Deep Black (William Morrow) based on his military experiences. He has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Economist, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, BBC, and other outlets. McFate holds a BA from Brown University, MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a Ph.D. in international relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He lives in Washington, DC. More at 

Speech topics

The Future of War and Geopolitics

Many imagine future wars will look like WWII with better technology, but this is dangerously wrong. Forget what you know — conflicts of the future will look nothing like those of the past. War is getting sneakier; China and Russia are already at war with us. This presentation will explain the future of war; who, how and why people will fight; and how to win.

A Grand Strategy for the 21st Century

The Westphalian order of nation-states is disrupted and being replaced by “durable disorder.” Already it has taken hold in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, and Latin American. Soon it may creep to our shores. Yet American foreign policy seeks to put the Westphalian Humpty-Dumpty back together, a doomed approach. We urgently need a grand strategy to contend with durable disorder or we will find ourselves surrounded by chaos.

The New Rules of War

The US has not decisively won a war since WWII yet it has the best military in the world — so what’s the problem? Warfare has changed but our strategic thinking has not. Modern conflict is governed by new rules, ones our enemies have grasped but we have not. We can win again if we comprehend the new rules of war. If we do not, terrorists, rogue states, and rising superpowers will inherit the world.


The New Rules of War: Victory in the Age of Durable Disorder

"Stunning. Sean McFate is a new Sun Tzu." -Admiral James Stavridis (retired), former Supreme Allied Commander at NATO.

he Modern Mercenary: Private Armies and What They Mean for World Order

The Modern Mercenary is the first work that combines a broad-ranging theory of the phenomenon with an insider's understanding of what the world of the private military industry is actually like.

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