Highlights

 
Quotable
True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.
Clarence Darrow
Original Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

 
April 29, 2005

More on Gangs and Guerrillas vs. the State


by William S. Lind

A story in the April 26 Washington Times, "Drug Smugglers, Rebels Join Hands," by Carmen Gentile, offered an interesting illustration of the argument I made in my last column, that Fourth Generation entities may do everything they want to do within the framework of hollowed-out states. The article reports,

"Brazilian drug traffickers have teamed up with Colombian rebels to smuggle narcotics through Paraguay, creating a lucrative new channel for distribution to the United States and Europe. …

"Using a precisely orchestrated system of flights from the Colombian jungle, Marxist rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, are shipping 40 to 60 tons of cocaine annually to farms in Paraguay owned by Brazilian drug lords, who then put the cocaine in cars and small trucks and drive them across the nearly unmonitored border into rural western Brazil … in return for arms, dollars, and euros from Brazilian traffickers [for the FARC]."

Of course, the states in question – Colombia, Paraguay and Brazil – would like to put a halt to this arrangement. But what can they do? If the United States cannot control its border along the Rio Grande, how can Brazil possibly keep drug traffickers from crossing its vastly longer land border, much of it through difficult country? Colombia is a hollow state, with the FARC, drug gangs, and other non-state elements in effective control of much of its territory.

Paraguay illustrates another effective technique non-state forces use against armed forces of the state: taking them from within. The Washington Times article quotes the U.S. State Department's 2005 International Narcotics Strategy Report concerning corruption and inefficiency within the Paraguayan National Police, who have been accused of protecting Brazilian narcotics traffickers. What a surprise! Given the profits involved in drug smuggling, how hard would it be to buy off some Paraguayan cops? Or all Paraguayan cops?

Meanwhile, drug smugglers and guerilla forces like the FARC work together more easily than states do. The state system is old, creaky, formalistic, and slow. Drug-dealing and guerilla warfare represent a free market, where deals happen fast. Several years ago, a Marine friend went down to Bolivia as part of the U.S. counter-drug effort. He observed that the drug traffickers went through the Boyd cycle, or OODA Loop, six times in the time it took us to go through it once. When I relayed that to Colonel Boyd, he said, "Then we're not even in the game."

Not surprisingly, the FARC and others find they can use the drug trade for political ends. The Times piece noted,

"But the [State Department] report did not mention FARC's recent cultivation of ties with leftist rebels in Paraguay. …Colombian Marxists infiltrating Paraguay beyond the drug trade made headlines in February when former presidential daughter Cecilia Cubas was found dead after being held captive for more than two months."

How long will it be before al-Qaeda and other Islamic non-state forces make their own alliances with the drug gangs and people-smugglers who are experts in getting across America's southern border? Or use the excellent distribution systems the drug gangs have throughout the United States to smuggle something with a bigger bang than the best cocaine?

Just as we see states coming together around the world against the non-state forces of the Fourth Generation, so those non-state forces will also come together in multifaceted alliances. The difference is likely to be that they will do it faster and better. And they will use states' preoccupation with the state system like a matador's cape, to dazzle and distract while they proceed with the real business of war.


comments on this article?
 
 
Archives

  • The Magic Potion
    2/18/2009

  • Israel Doesn't Get 4GW
    1/14/2009

  • Intervention: A Problem of Means?
    12/12/2008

  • The Other Election
    10/29/2008

  • Al-Qaeda in Iraq:
    Another Case of Failed Interventionism?
    10/21/2008

  • Pas d'Argent, Pas de Suisse
    10/9/2008

  • War on Two Fronts, Without Railways
    10/2/2008

  • Why Obama Is Wrong
    9/18/2008

  • Defending the Baltics
    9/9/2008

  • The Necessary War?
    7/3/2008

  • The Yellow Press
    6/27/2008

  • Don't Miss the Train
    6/25/2008

  • The Ancient History of Military Reform
    5/29/2008

  • A Confirming Moment
    4/18/2008

  • Operation Cassandra
    3/26/2008

  • When the Money Stops,
    Military Reform May Start
    3/12/2008

  • Linear Tactics in a Chaotic War
    3/5/2008

  • Kosovo: Fools Rush In
    2/28/2008

  • The Best Counterinsurgency: Unentangle
    2/14/2008

  • Die and Win
    2/5/2008

  • Side Effects of Our War in Afghanistan
    1/16/2008

  • Kicking the Can Down the Road
    1/10/2008

  • In the Fox’s Lair
    11/29/2007

  • No, the US Is Not Winning in Anbar
    10/11/2007

  • Truth-Tellers
    8/31/2007

  • The Petraeus Report:
    More Kabuki?
    8/22/2007

  • One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
    8/9/2007

  • America's Last Successful Mideast War
    8/3/2007

  • US Military Riding the
    Perfect (Sine) Wave
    6/13/2007

  • Flickers of Light
    3/23/2007

  • The Washington Dodgers
    3/8/2007

  • Insurgency May Be Back on Its Heels, but It's No Setback
    1/30/2007

  • Identifying Variables
    1/18/2007

  • Less Than Zero
    1/13/2007

  • Somalia: A State Restored? Not So Fast
    1/6/2007

  • Knocking Opportunity
    12/12/2006

  • More Troops?
    12/1/2006

  • Lose a War, Lose an Election
    11/14/2006

  • Third and Final Act
    10/31/2006

  • Why We Still Fight
    10/12/2006

  • The Sanctuary Delusion
    9/29/2006

  • General Puff
    9/15/2006

  • Collapse of the Flanks
    8/11/2006

  • Welcome to My Parlor
    7/29/2006

  • The Summer of 1914
    7/19/2006

  • To Be or Not To Be a State?
    7/6/2006

  • Air Strikes in Afghanistan: Aargh!
    6/20/2006

  • Fourth-Generation Hell
    6/14/2006

  • The Power of Weakness, Again
    6/8/2006

  • The Perils of Threat Inflation
    6/3/2006

  • Off With His Head!
    4/29/2006

  • Sweeping Up the Debris
    4/20/2006

  • Taking Pakistan's Temperature
    2/24/2006

  • The Long War
    2/9/2006

  • The Next Act
    2/2/2006

  • Forcing the World to Be Saved
    1/21/2006

  • Two False Options
    12/21/2005

  • Questionable Assumptions
    12/8/2005

  • It Ain't Fair
    12/1/2005

  • Engagement: An Exit Strategy
    11/5/2005

  • Condi's True Confessions
    10/28/2005

  • Important Distinctions
    9/24/2005

  • National Defense for a Republic
    8/3/2005

  • Discouraging Lessons From Imperial Spain
    7/29/2005

  • Hunting for Cops
    7/15/2005

  • William Lind is Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation. He is a former Congressional Aide and the author
    of many books and articles on military strategy and war.

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2003 Antiwar.com