4GW comes to a town near you

More precisely, near me:

Quiet Atlanta suburbs draw drug cartels

The Mexican cartels responsible for transporting 99 percent of illicit drugs into the United States are “studiously low-key,” said Jack Killorin, director of the Atlanta High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force.

“They are trying not to interact in the communities in a way which draws attention,” Killorin said. …  Cartel operatives find it easier to “hide in plain sight” among the county’s large Hispanic immigrant population, Killorin said.

Killorin said Mexican drug trafficking organizations are running an estimated $28.5 billion-a-year business, and yet the U.S. government only intercepts about $1 billion of it. …

Bill Lind suggests that the defining characteristic of 4GW is “a crisis in the legitimacy of the state.”  This is sometimes simplified to “the decline of the state,” but it does not mean that states everywhere are going away.  That is patently not the case.

What does appear to be happening, however, is that in some areas, large numbers of people are transferring their primary loyalties to organizations other than the state to which they happen to be citizens.  There is nothing new about this:  Organized crime is as old as the species itself, and many state boundaries, particularly in areas affected by European colonialism, are arbitrary and don’t reflect ethnic or tribal composition.

Within the last several decades, however, factors have arisen that have accelerated this trend in some areas.  These factors include:

  • transportation systems, particularly airline travel
  • the Internet
  • the huge amounts of money produced by global drug trafficking
  • the fall of the Soviet Union and the bipolar world system along with it

The question you might ask is not whether these trends are real but whether the type of conflicts they create should be considered as “war.”  Does 4GW represent an evolution of war or of crime?

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Filed in Uncategorized | 10 responses so far

10 Responses to “4GW comes to a town near you”

  1. EmeryNelsonon 26 May 2009 at 6:35 pm 1

    “This is sometimes simplified to “the decline of the state,” but it does not mean that states everywhere are going away. That is patently not the case.”

    I’m not so sure about that. It seems to me the state is “hollowing out” as some like to see 4WG, but it’s happening at a spectacularly fast rate. With the state grasping every harder and faster for “control” it might appear just the opposite but I can’t see it. The Dye is cast with the US economy. No one, least of all Gietner/Obama, has explained to me how we pay for even a fraction of what we owe, let alone remain financially healthy. I won’t even go into the real estate market, which is a turd the Feds are repainting. If someone knows how $9 Trillion in debt (a very conservative number supplied by Obama Industries) is repaid by 2013, I’m willing to listen???

    The classic example is the federal government having a controlling interest in GM, a company with a product no one wants. To top it off, the few products that are being bought are about to go away by Federal mandate. They will file for bankruptcy next week (by all accounts) and this is not likely to make it’s product more desirable. Then with typical government efficiency by 2012 we will come out with a 61 Skoda that cost $48,000 a copy. I know it’s supposed to be only a few thousand (ever more worthless) dollars more then we presently pay, but if you believe that I’ve got a $42 million F-22 I’ll sell you.

    [CR: OK, but there are states other than the United States.]

  2. loggie20on 26 May 2009 at 6:47 pm 2

    “people are transferring their primary loyalties to organizations other than the state”.

    Loyal to something other than the US constitution: common defense and the general welfare.

    Sounds like the PAC’s and congress people selling useless weapon systems, other forms of corporate welfare while attacking entitlements.

    Governments become irrelevant and sell the loyalty to others whether they be drug cartel or warfare state crooks.

    When the state exists for something other than the people what should anyone expect the popular (re)action?

  3. senor tomason 26 May 2009 at 6:49 pm 3

    “many state boundaries, particularly in areas affected by European colonialism, are arbitrary”

    Like Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan – and a place that once was, called South Viet Nam.

  4. Sven Ortmannon 26 May 2009 at 7:44 pm 4

    “It seems to me the state is “hollowing out” as some like to see 4WG, but it’s happening at a spectacularly fast rate.”

    I don’t see such a trend in any industrialized country.

    Instead, I see exactly what happened to the Roman Empire and imperial Spain.

    We don’t do our homework. We have domestic problems that pile up, some grow like cancer. Our societies become stiff and stiffer in their expectations – many states even base their spending habits on the assumption of 2% annual economic output growth. A standstill would already crash many states.

    Certain problems were known to be wrong policies and expectations in the 50’s – scientists warned about them. Yet, we allowed these mistakes to survive and to become habits. Such mistakes are slowly strangling us.

    The same is even visible in large developing states.

    The economic crisis and the many disappointments of he past years should motivate us to do our homework and work on our domestic problems. Instead we’re looking outward, even at tiny little insects that barely managed to deliver a tiny sting to us years ago.

    [CR: Interesting summary. But as a result, what’s happening to the willingness of people in these states to fight and die for them?]

  5. GeorgiaBoy61on 27 May 2009 at 12:51 am 5

    Lind has written that uncontrolled immigration and its attendant consequences represent perhaps the gravest threat to present-day America, especially with regard to Mexico. Does he include the so-called “war on drugs” in that formulation? And is this problem a symptom of the illness or its cause? I’d argue that it is the former; the presence of drug cartels and other 4GW entities on U.S. soil is a symptom of a weakened state. However one views this problem, it is hard to argue with Lind’s conclusion that the modern state is suffering a crisis of legitimacy and a decline in its influence.

    To paraphrase a well-known talk show host, a nation is in part defined by the triad of “language, borders, and culture.” By this standard, our nation is in trouble, because all have three have been weakened, diluted or corrupted.

    ~ Spanish is the de facto second language of the United States, and is approaching primary language status in many locales (Miami, to name one).

    ~ Government at all levels, state and local as well as federal, has proven unwilling or unable to enforce our border with Mexico. Historian Victor Davis Hanson coined the term “Mexifornia” to describe what California is becoming, a pseudo-state or hybrid of Mexico and the United States. The same could be noted of Arizona and Texas,

    ~ The dominant civic culture that was once taught in American schools has now been diluted, if not discredited among certain segments of American society. It has been replaced by multiculturalism, which holds the notion that all cultures are equally valid, and that upholding a specifically American culture is chauvinistic and xenophobic.

    If protection of language, borders and culture are foremost among the responsibilities of the state, can it be argued that our government and other institutions have failed in this task?

    Nor is this the only failure of the American state. According variously to law, precedent and tradition, the government has a fiduciary responsibility to its citizens, to live within its means, balancing revenues and expenses, and exercising restraint and judgment in economic matters, whether in crafting and adhering to a budget, levying taxes, controlling the national currency, or the like. In the span of only a few decades, the USA has moved from being the world’s biggest creditor to being its biggest debtor. So in-hock is the state that it has resorted to borrowing from other nations, such as China and Japan, not to mention our children and grandchildren, who are tens of thousands of dollars “in debt” before even before attaining adulthood, in some cases before being born!

    Implicit in the notion of the nation-state is a social contract. The state reserves certain prerogatives to itself, including a monopoly on the use of force, as well as the levying of taxes, regulation of central banking and the money supply, and other functions. The state may also conscript able-bodied citizens for military or other service as it sees fit. In return, the state is expected to assure the prosperity and safety of its citizens in return for their loyalty.

    We aren’t the only ones struggling with the problems of statehood. One simply has to look around the globe to find functioning and dysfunctional states. The continuum of ranges from more-or-less functional first-world nations such as the USA, Japan, the EU nations, South Korea, the PRC, Taiwan, and others to dysfunctional entities such as the Sudan or Somalia, states in little but name. Most nations reside somewhere between these two poles. For some “nations,” statehood has never been the preferred way of organizing society, as in some tribal cultures such as Afghanistan. Globalism has applied severe strains on even the most robust of states, and many are struggling to cope with its implications, often unsuccessfully.

    If one cannot get a job, feed one’s family or secure the basic necessities of life living according to the present regime, then any viable non-state alternative that fulfills those needs will be taken very seriously indeed. Love of country can a good thing, but if it doesn’t pay the bills or put food on the table, then what? South Americans growing cocoa for the drug cartels and Afghans raising poppies have already been confronted with this existential question, and chosen their paths. So far, a minority of Americans have been forced into this bind, but there are troubling signs of worse times to come. The rise of methamphetamine labs across rural America is one such troubling indicator; there are others. Sales of “survivalist” gear are now so mainstream that such kits are sold on Amazon.com and in chain stores. Hardly a show of confidence in the future, is it?

    When does a functional nation-state become a dysfunctional one? The answer is simple – when enough people opt out of the system, and a tipping point is reached. That’s when Lind’s nightmares of 4th generation warfare on American soil will come to pass.

    As recently as three decades ago, it would have been unthinkable for a major foreign drug cartel to set up shop in a major American city and get away with it. The act they now can attests to the weakness of the American state relative to times past.

    [CR: This is an interesting comment, but it is FAR too long and should be a post of its own. I don’t have the time to deal with it now, but future comments that don’t respect our comment policy will be deleted.]

  6. Polarbear1605on 27 May 2009 at 7:29 am 6

    I think the answer to Chet’s question is determined by what laws we use to fight these conflicts. We can use the “Rules of Law” that do not extend outside the boundries of the US or we can use the “Laws of War” that currently only apply to states. Either way, both have gaps and in those gaps is where the bad guys (both enemies and criminals) will play.

  7. senor tomason 27 May 2009 at 10:16 pm 7

    “what’s happening to the willingness of people in these states to fight and die for them?”

    If a senator or representative in the United States Congress submitted a serious bill proposing to restore the draft we would find out real fast.

  8. Maxon 28 May 2009 at 7:46 am 8

    CR:” Interesting summary. But as a result, what’s happening to the willingness of people in these states to fight and die for them?”

    *”Ask not what your country can do for you,”


    Somehow, those words, just don’t fly anymore, it’s
    as if pepole have had enough, and no longer “believe.”

    We maybe seeing the early stages, or at least
    the formation of myriad catalysts that will lead to the disalusion of
    the United States itself, into peices.

    If that’s not a crisis of legitimacy, what is !?


    “In a recent budget-cutting order, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and legislators slashed $1 million, or 25 percent, of funding for 11 groups that help veterans through a maze of paperwork and bureaucracy to get disability and pension benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The cut is forcing layoffs and likely will be carried over to the next budget, too.”

  9. GeorgiaBoy61on 28 May 2009 at 11:15 pm 9

    Mea culpa. My apologies at exceeding the comment length… my enthusiasm for the topic sometimes gets the better of me.

    [CR: Happens to all of us. Over about 250 words, send it to me as a candidate for its own post.]

  10. Maxon 12 Jun 2009 at 5:38 am 10

    PB writes;

    “We can use the “Rules of Law” that do not extend outside the boundries of the US or we can use the “Laws of War” that currently only apply to states.”

    Sure, sounds great, use international law and consensus among
    civilised countries, and like minded allies to curtail the “bad guys.”

    But first, it might be a good idea for the United States Of America,
    to respect and obey THOSE SAME LAWS.

    Here’s one problem, first the mindset, and then the crime.