Feb 7, 2008

GWOG - Global War On Gangs


It's not completely beyond the wobbly trajectories of SMC to channel, via jacked & hacked pieces, the work of notable other to explore eclectic node and intersect within the matrix of shrinkology, IO, and insurgency/COIN. Posted less often than perhaps our ambitions would have it are materials pertaining to Western European and American insurgency type movements and their state sponsored counter-movements. Perhaps an exception to this rule of negligence is in order. This then on advanced gangs (3G gangs) as insurgent entities - from the perspective of state.

Dr. Max Manwaring's recent (2008) A Contemporary Challenge to State Sovereignty: Gangs and Other Illicit Transnational Criminal Organizations in Central America, El Salvador, Mexico, Jamaica, and Brazil [67-page pdf], explores a marginalized species of SMC fetish as he asserts that gang-generated instability leads to threats to national, regional, and global security; nation-state sovereignty; failing and failed states; and a "clash of civilizations." The objective of these illegal non-state entities is to neutralize, control, or depose governments to assure their own commercial or ideological expectations. Their ultimate threat is the coerced criminal imposition of a radical restructuring of the state and its governance. This monograph builds on his 2005 monograph, Street Gangs: The New Urban Insurgency [53-page pdf]. Below we serve up des amuses bouches from SSI's summarizing efforts for both papers - for the sake of context, not flatulence.

2005 Monograph

Although differences between gangs and insurgents regarding motives and modes of operations exist, this linkage infers that gang phenomena are mutated forms of urban insurgency. In these terms, these “new” nonstate actors must eventually seize political power to guarantee the freedom of action and the commercial environment they want. The common denominator that can link the gang phenomenon to insurgency is that some third generation gangs’ and insurgents’ ultimate objective is to depose or control the governments of targeted countries.

[There are] issues that must be taken together and understood as a whole before any effective countermeasures can be taken to deal with the half-criminal and half-political nature of the gang phenomenon. This is a universal compound-complex problem that must be understood on three distinct levels of analysis: first, the gangs phenomena are generating serious domestic and regional instability and insecurity that ranges from personal violence to insurgent to state failure: second, because if their criminal activities and security challenges, the gangs phenomena are exacerbating civil-military and police-military relations problems and reducing effective and civil-military ability to control the national territory; and, third, gangs are helping transitional criminal organizations, insurgents, warlords, and drug barons erode the legitimacy and effective sovereignty of nation-states . The analytical commonality linking these three issues is the inevitable contribution to either (a) failing and failed state status of targeted countries, or (b) deposing or controlling the governments of targeted countries. In these terms, we must remember that crime and instability are only symptoms of the threat. The ultimate threat is either state failure or the violent imposition of a radical socio-economicpolitical restructuring of the state and its governance.

In describing the gang phenomenon as a simple mutation of a violent act we label as insurgency, we mischaracterize the activities of nonstate organizations that are attempting to take control of the state. We traditionally think of insurgency as primarily a military activity, and we think of gangs as a simple law-enforcement problem. Yet, insurgents and third generation gangs are engaged in a highly complex political act—political war. Under these conditions, police and military forces would provide personal and collective security and stability, while they and other governmental institutions combat the root causes of instability and political war—injustice, repression, inequity, and corruption. The intent would be to generate the political-economic-social development that will define the processes of national reform, regeneration, and wellbeing. The challenge, then, is to come to terms with the fact that contemporary security and stability, at whatever level, is at base a holistic political-diplomatic, socio-economic, psychological-moral, and military police effort.

2008 Monograph

Another kind of war within the context of a “clash of civilizations” is being waged in various parts of the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere around the world. Some of the main protagonists are those who have come to be designated as first-, second-, and third-generation street gangs, as well as their various possible allies such as traditional Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs). In this new type of war, national security and sovereignty of affected countries is being impinged every day, and gangs’ illicit commercial motives are, in fact, becoming an ominous political agenda.

Rather than trying to depose a government with a major stroke (golpe or coup) or in a prolonged revolutionary war, as some insurgents have done, gangs and their allies (the gang phenomenon) more subtly take control of territory and people one street or neighborhood at a time (coup d’ street) or one individual, business, or government office at a time. Thus, whether a gang is specifically a criminal or insurgent type organization is irrelevant. Its putative objective is to neutralize, control, or depose governments to ensure self-determined (nondemocratic) ends. This objective defines insurgency, a serious political agenda, and a clash regarding the authoritative allocation of values in a society.

The purposes of this monograph are to (1) introduce the gang phenomenon as a major nonstate player and a serious threat in the global and regional security arenas;( 2) examine the gang phenomenon in Central America in general and in El Salvador, Mexico, Jamaica, and Brazil more specifically; and (3) summarize the key points and lessons and make brief recommendations. These cases demonstrate the analytical commonalities of various types of gang activities as they contribute to the instabilities that lead to the erosion of national security, nation-state sovereignty, the processes of state failure, and the struggle between democratic and criminal values.

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