Warlord Governance: Transition Towards, or Coexistence with, the State?

Daniel Biro (unedited draft, 21 June, 2011)

Building on the findings of the previous research (Biro, 2010; Biro,2007), the core objective of this essay is to identify a governance space within the particular social context of warlordism. In so doing, it is my intention to describe the phenomenon of warlordism as an alternative form of organising political communities beyond the classical state’s centralized monopoly over violence. To this end, this paper is structured in a number of parts. The first section develops an argument for moving beyond the “state-building” perspective in the study of non-state armed groups. Previous such Continue reading

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Respectable Warlords? The Politics of State-Building in Post-Taleban Afghanistan

Antonio Giustozzi

(A version of this paper previously appeared as Working Paper 33 of the Crisis States Programme Working papers series no.1, Development Research Centre, London School of Economics)

Definitions of warlordism and the debate about legitimacy

In recent years the term ‘warlordism’, initially used to indicate a specific period of the history of China, has been in vogue as a way of describing the competition between military factions in collapsed or crisis states. The term is not only popular in the press, but also among academics, especially Africanists. A special issue of the Review of African Political Economy launched the debate about the suitability of this term for use in the African context, giving a largely positive answer. J.A.G. Roberts, in particular, explained in what sense it is suitable. “The decay of nationalism into regionalism and sectarianism”, “the extent to which such provincial power centres link up with foreign interests”, “the disintegration of the military hierarchy and the rise of lower- ranked officer strata”, “the burdens imposed on civil society by the extortion and violence” it occasioned and “the obstacles it places in the way of political solutions to problems” were, in his judgement, all aspects of warlordism which made it applicable to Africa.1

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Innovation, Deviation and Development: The Warlord Entrepreneur as Proto-State Service Provider

Nils Gilman, Jesse Goldhammer and Steven Weber

Excerpted from Gilman, Goldhammer and Weber, “Deviant Globalization: Black Market Economy in the 21st Century”, Continuum Books

Development Between the Cracks

Deviant entrepreneurs are some of the most audacious experimenters, risk-takers, and innovators in today’s global economy. In their relentless search for competitive advantage, they engage in just about all of the activities that other entrepreneurs do—marketing, strategy, organizational design, product innovation, information management, financial analysis and so on. In many cases, they create enormous profits while extruding inefficiencies from huge markets. And they often go to extreme lengths to drive new business ventures to success, placing their economic livelihood and sometimes their lives at risk. Talk about “animal spirits” (Adam Smith) or “disruptive innovation” (Clayton Christensen) or “creative destruction” (Joseph Schumpeter)—it is all here. Just because these markets feature goods and services that may disgust us, does not mean we can’t learn a great deal from deviant globalization’s “success stories” and “best practices.”3

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The Politics of a Climate-Changed World: Pyongyang, Puntland, or Portland?

William Barnes and Nils Gilman

[A different version of this paper is published as “Green Social Democracy or Barbarism: Climate Change and the End of High Modernism,” in Craig Calhoun and Georgi Derluguian, eds., The Deepening Crisis: Governance Challenges and Neoliberalism, Volume 2 in the Social Science Research Council’s series Possible Futures, NYU Press, June 2011.]

As the present volume documents, the early 21st Century is a sea of icebergs, full of hazards, threats, and crises-in-the-making, whose obscured bulk we are just beginning to fully appreciate and map. Atmospheric carbon, accumulating out of sight for 200 years, is a mega-berg, one with the potential to sink modern civilization by itself. The exploding and enduring presence of climate destabilization, now inescapable, promises to exacerbate other crises and hazards, turning this mix into a thousand-year “perfect storm.” The long-term futures of societies all over the planet will be shaped in large part by their experiences of and responses to the destructive ramifications of climate change, especially as those ramifications intersect and interact with other burgeoning problems and crises. It is already too late to avoid a cascade of local and regional “natural” disasters in the medium term (i.e. by mid-century), and heroic near-term action will be required to drastically reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions if a longer-term civilizational catastrophe of world historical proportions is to be avoided. This, in combination with the panoply of other system-threats and crises covered in this volume, is humanity’s playing field going forward – like it or not.

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On Warlords and Rodeos: the Competitive Dynamics of Post-State Transition Zones

Vinay Gupta

“What happens when nothing works?”

This simple question is at the heart of the gradient which manifests the Warlord Entrepreneur. Whether it’s the little guy who “fixes” your passport for a small fee, or an armed logistics cartel in a war-torn city who takes over the energy grid; the warlord entrepreneur exists in the space that other actors cannot fill.

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Bringing the End of War to the Global Badlands

Hardin Tibbs (Updated 20 June, 2011)

Weapons production is a major global business. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the total sales of the world’s hundred largest arms producing companies was about $315 billion in 2006. They also estimate that the total exports by the top three arms exporting countries, the United States, Russia and Germany, rose from $12.6 billion in 2001 to $17 billion in 2010.

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Mexico’s criminal organizations: weakness in their complexity, strength in their evolution

Sam Logan and James Bosworth (Updated 21 June, 2011)

(Portions of this essay appeared previously on the Southern Pulse website; Links to previous essays: Part 1, Part 2.)

Transnational organized crime exists as a networked system that creates a high degree of resiliency. Government systems laden by a pyramid-shaped bureaucracy and sovereignty have had little effect when attacking networks of organized crime in Latin America. This uneven playing field is easily observed at the strategic level, where non-state threats appear to run circles around slower moving governments. The criminal system rapidly adapts, strengthens and increases in violence, independent of whether independent groups are fighting each other, government forces, or civilian vigilante groups. As a “counter-system,” criminality (or warlord entrepreneurs in the parlance of this volume), is inherently resilient, displacing from one territory to another and across international boundaries, as market conditions or threats to organizational structures present themselves.

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Intelligence, Sovereignty, Criminal Insurgency, and Drug Cartels

John P. Sullivan

Intelligence plays an important role in shaping understanding of national and global security at strategic, operational, and tactical levels. This paper discusses intelligence as a lens for understanding shifts in sovereignty and state change. Specifically, it addresses early warning, strategic foresight, and contextual sense-making applied to criminal insurgencies and drug cartels. Contemporary cartel and gang wars are challenging states and state institutions. A range of illicit activities—local and transnational–including non-state armed groups (criminal soldiers) attacking state institutions, seizing control of territory, and corrupting state organs may contribute to criminal insurgencies and fuel the rise of new state forms. This paper examines the evolving situation in Mexico and Latin America in order to suggest variables, observable indicators, and analytical approaches for understanding these threats and their potentials.

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Weaponizing Capitalism: The Naxals of India

Shlok Vaidya

“I have said in the past that left-wing extremism is the single biggest security challenge to the Indian state. It continues to be so.”

  • Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Despite the attention potential conflict with Pakistan, Kashmir, and the menace of radical Islam receive, there is another, more immediate threat to India’s existence. In 2005, the government estimated that the Naxals are responsible for 89 percent of violent deaths. Their influence spans 200 districts, up from 75 just five years ago. Over the same time period, the Naxals have murdered thousands of civilians, killed hundreds of security forces, and lost many of their own.

The once-suppressed Naxalite insurgency is already siphoning the flows of globalization and inhibiting the economic expansion of almost half the country.

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