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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