Monday, February 03, 2003

The Five Wars of Globalization

The illegal trade in drugs, arms, intellectual property, people, and money is booming. Like the war on terrorism, the fight to control these illicit markets pits governments against agile, stateless, and resourceful networks empowered by globalization. Governments will continue to lose these wars until they adopt new strategies to deal with a larger, unprecedented struggle that now shapes the world as much as confrontations between nation-states once did.

By Moisés Naím

The persistence of al Qaeda underscores how hard it is for governments to stamp out stateless, decentralized networks that move freely, quickly, and stealthily across national borders to engage in terror. The intense media coverage devoted to the war on terrorism, however, obscures five other similar global wars that pit governments against agile, well-financed networks of highly dedicated individuals. These are the fights against the illegal international trade in drugs, arms, intellectual property, people, and money. Religious zeal or political goals drive terrorists, but the promise of enormous financial gain motivates those who battle governments in these five wars. Tragically, profit is no less a motivator for murder, mayhem, and global insecurity than religious fanaticism.

This is a great article. I have to say the solutions at the end don't quite fit the size of the problem highlighted, but he discusses the problem clearly, which is a start. It seems to me Al Qaeda is the worst of these dangers, since their true aim is to destroy us rather than live off us parasitically.

I think this discussion is related to one I have been having with Arthur Fleischman of Untold Millions a couple of comments down. How to deter an enemy who is willing to die? Apart from any other problems, if a family doesn't have a house the threat to destroy it cannot intimidate. I do not live in Isreal, but this is no idle speculation, because soon I believe American troops in Iraq will be under attack from suicide bombers. I believe that when the neighbors of suicide bombers start cursing them and their families instead of considering them martyrs the battle will be half won.

Perhaps massive investment in Jordan could be a good start - on the condition that some of the investment be used to provide homes and jobs for those Palestinians who are prepared to relinquish any claim to return to Israel. If Jordan could build enough of an industrial base so that it was economically better off that it's xenophobic neighbors (including those with oil) it would make those neighbors who more actively host terrorist groups look worse to their own people. Once the Palestinians inside Isreal began to see that those who had embraced peace had something to live for, they too would wonder what exactly they were fighting for.

I found a couple of links to a similar plan - Stef Wertheimer's peace plan. I originally encountered it here. I hesitate to quote this third link from The Zimbabwe Independent without studying their politics, but the story itself seems to be taken directly from Reuters news wire, near the bottom of the page. For the forseeable future we will need the stick as well as the carrot, but if we are to have collective punishments we must have collective rewards as well - already there are many Arabs who believe we will fight them no matter what they do, so that suicide bombers are martyrs rather than people who bring trouble upon them. At least in the beginning, some of the rewards will have to go to those who refrain from doing horrible things others around them are doing, although I hope their will be less passive things to reward later.

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