Day By Day

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Austin Bay on Gangs and Insurgents

Austin Bay has an interesting post commenting on the U. S. Army War College publication considering the nature of insurgency and its relation to criminal organizations. It's a good, thoughtful post that illuminates much of what we have experienced in Iraq.

Here's the money quote:
The traditional problem of external aggression against a state territory, markets, sources of raw materials and hydrocarbons, lines of communication, and peoples remains salient, but does not hold the urgency it once did. However,the Western mainstream legally-oriented security dialogue demonstrates that many political and military leaders and scholars of international relations have not yet adjusted to thereality that internal and transnational nonstate actors such as criminal gangs can be as important as traditional nationstates in determining political patterns and outcomes inglobal affairs.

Similarly, many political leaders see nonstateactors as bit players on the international stage. At best, many leaders consider these nontraditional political actors to below-level law enforcement problems, and, as a result, manyargue that they do not require sustained national securitypolicy attention.

1 Yet, more than half of the countries in theworld are struggling to maintain their political, economic, andterritorial integrity in the face of diverse direct and indirectnonstate including criminal gang challenges.

2 For sovereignty to be meaningful today, the state, togetherwith its associated governmental institutions working underthe rule of law, must be the only source of authority empoweredto make and enforce laws and conduct the business of thepeople within the national territory. The violent, intimidating,and corrupting activities of illegal internal and transnationalnonstate actors such as urban gangs can abridge sovereign state powers and negate national and regional security…

Read the whole thing here, and follow his links to other discussions. This is important stuff, if not necessarily all that new. Maybe here is where enterprising historians can make a solid contribution.


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