It’s not been mentioned much on this side of the pond, but I imagine Stateside readers will have already heard about the US soldier allegedly “sold” to a militant Afghani clan by local-level insurgents. Here’s hoping he gets hauled out of there sooner rather than later. [image by Soldier’s Media Centre]
John Robb points out the marked difference in military networking that this sort of action represents; the Haqqanis are leveraging an entrepreneurial instinct in their local supporters, a sort of monetized and crowdsourced insurgency that relies less on having a standing army and more on rewarding local people for doing things your way.
As Fourth Generation Warfare becomes increasingly prevalent, perhaps the military forces of the West should take a page or two from the playbooks of their opponents – maybe wallets and billfolds are better targets than hearts and minds. After all, if your country is being torn apart economically by a war you don’t understand, who are you going to support – the alien invaders with expensive military hardware who blow a lot of stuff up in the name of political concepts that you don’t fully understand, or the guys who reward you for easily accomplished favours on your home turf?
The news is full of the escalating war between Mexican drug traffickers and that country’s government, and it’s not a pretty picture – especially not for Mexico’s more northerly states and cities.
But what if the problems could spill over? Apparently they already have – there are claims that Canadian gang violence is connected to the Mexican situation, as is often the way with complex illicit supply chains.
John Robb hypothesises that it wouldn’t take much to spark an open-source insurgency in the region – one that could turn the northern states of Mexico and the southern states of the US into a no-go zone for the military forces of either country.
By itself, it’s doubtful that a narco/smuggling open source insurgency could accomplish this goal, although it would make a very good run at it (particularly given the declining budgets of their opponents). However, the prospects for successful achievement of the plausible promise would radically improve if the coming global depression drives
- the creation of new violent groups — new primary loyalties formed from fear, revenge, and necessity — and
- the economic deprivation necessary for a vibrant bazaar of violence — this is a marketplace that forms when, due to a need to purchase food and shelter, there is an endless pool of people willing to kill for a couple hundred bucks.
It’s not really that implausible an idea, and an illustration of the way that nation-state borders are being broken down by modern technology, economics and realpolitik.
When a nation can’t control an insurgency at this sort of scale, what will that do for its credibilty among its more stable neighbours?