RARE RETREAD: BLACK GLOBALIZATION AND SMALL WARS
Very seldom do I ever lift something from the archives, but I came across a guest-post I did a number of years ago for blogfriend Josh Manchester
at his now defunct The Adventures of Chester
blog. The basic content of the post has held up fairly well, though some of the original links that supported the data have since vanished ( reminding me that links are really, really, transient but a footnote is forever); most of the economic data came from NIC/CIA.gov PDFs that have been moved or removed from the web, so take that for what it is worth (the dollar figures are more than stale now, regardless):"BLACK GLOBALIZATION AND SMALL WARS
When Saddam Hussein emptied his prisons prior to the Iraq War it seemed at the time a sign of his regime’s impending doom. Either Saddam’s amnesty was an act of desperation to shore up support among the Iraqi people or his grip on power had so weakened that he had lost control even over elements of his own security apparatus. In actuality, the dictator had made a preemptive asymmetrical strike against American forces by releasing Iraq’s professional criminals whose well-organized networks badly undermined the CPA and today are connecting an otherwise heterogeneous insurgency. Although this move ultimately did Saddam Hussein little good it demonstrated the potential power that
” has to effect the outcome of military interventions, even those of the United States.
It’s rather strange that given our history, American intelligence did not forsee this outcome in Iraq. It was the United States government that used the Mafia of Charles “ Lucky” Luciano to gather naval intelligence, suppress sabotage on the dockyards and enlist the Sicilian Mafia to undermine Mussolini’s rule to soften the island for Allied invasion. WWII however was the age when nation-state control and the exercise of sovereignty and economic autarky were at their zenith and non-state actors like criminal syndicates were peripheral to events.
Today, the strategic situation is vastly different. The relative primacy of nation-state sovereigns has been eroded by globalization that opened their economies and borders to greater flows of “connectivity” and challenges to their political legitimacy mounted by international, transnational and subnational actors. Some of these, the WTO or the internet for example, at least have brought tremendous benefits. Not so the metastasis of transnational criminal networks that constitute black globalization and have an economic reach that in the aggregate, rivals the greatest of regional powers and are centered on a few geographic nexus points. A sampling of annual estimates:
Governmental Corruption $ 500 billion
Global Narcotics trafficking $ 400-500 billion (matching or exceeding U.S. Defense budget)
Conflict Diamond trafficking $ 24 billion/ 10 % world market
Human Trafficking $ 7 billion
Stolen Automobile Smuggling $ 9 billion
Piracy ( maritime) $ 16 billion ( high end estimate)
Even leaving aside minor or hard to estimate contraband markets or legal “ gray “ markets like international arms dealing, these revenues are enough to field armies or acquire the most expensive technology to evade capture or launch asymmetrical attacks on state forces.
Clearly, the days when even a weak state ruler like Ngo Dinh Diem could scattter a criminal organization with a whiff of grapeshot are over. Expeditions into failed Gap states like Somalia or major military invasions of countries like Iraq must take Black Globalization networks into account during strategic planning as they would subnational or even full-fledged state actors. In terms of on the ground, policy, options for U.S. policy makers and commanders for engaging these networks would include:
Alliance ( Luciano Model)
Benign Neutrality ( Transactional Model)
Armed Neutrality ( Deterrence Model)
Active Containment ( Limited military action)
Belligerence (Counterinsurgency model)
Ideally, the U.S. would seek to prevent the Black Globalization network from actively aligning itself with the enemy and avoid direct engagement to suppress the network until the primary mission was accomplished. Imagine the state of Iraq today if the criminal networks were working hand in glove with American and Iraqi troops to root out the insurgency instead to aid the insurgents against coalition forces. Circumstances, however may not always prove to be so simple, corrupt and violent networks being what they are, any negotiated result is at best transient.
A second indirect form of pressure could be exerted on the money laundering aspect of Black Globalization which must at some point attempt to “ clean” their cash flow through or by acquiring legitimate banks and financial markets in Western countries. Strategic financial attack was evidently taken against the major backers of Slobodon Milosevic during the Kosovo War with positive results. Exploiting this avenue might require that the Marines have more than just a few good accountants, a genuine financial intelligence service would be required to maximize effectiveness.
The complexity of small wars is almost enough to make diplomats and generals long for the good, old days of the Warsaw Pact. Almost. "
Labels: best of zenpundit, black globalization, brave new war, COIN, foreign policy, globalization, IC, insurgency, iraq, military, networks, piracy, small wars council, transnational criminal organization