Beyond Convergence: World Without Order

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-07-24-39With a number of my colleagues and experts from the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime, we were really proud to be asked to contribute to a new edited volume, “Beyond Convergence: World Without Order” published by the National Defense University.

This volume makes an effort to understand the multiple dynamics by which weak and fragile states collide with deviant actors: international terrorists, globally networked insurgents, and, of course, transnational organised crime.

Beyond Convergence really pushes wide the boundaries of conventional thinking to explore the impacts of modern technology, the role of ideology, globalisation on the global regime.  It highlights the major failures we are seeing in global governance that is manifesting in systemic costs – financial, but also human.

Andrew Trabulsi wrote a chapter entitled “Virtually Illicit: the use of social media in a hyper-connected world“, which described the incredible importance social media and communication has become to organised crime and terrorist groups.  They use it to recruit, to build loyalty and to conduct operations in increasingly similar ways.

We conclude that understanding and responding to the influence that deviant groups can have over the internet must be an urgent policy priority, but combatting it is a task that state actors are not well structured to succeed – where states deal with majorities and their needs and opinions, deviant groups deal with the fringe, the disenfranchised and the marginalised.

Moreover, trying to fight fire with fire – mobilising the internet for a popular response may produce a ‘clicktivist’ surge of popular support but it is one that not only dies away quickly, but that favours high profile expedient responses rather than an effort to dig deep into the long-term structural responses that will be required to change the nature of illicit business.

I encourage you to check out the volume, not only my article, but some of the fascinating contributions from leading global experts, for example:

  • Mark Shaw’s engaging exposition of mafia capture of politics and the economy through ‘protection economies‘ and the strategic use of violence that this entails;
  • Matthew Levitt’s exposition of the endlessly fascinating narrative of the Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and the tightrope they walk between terrorist group, drug trafficking and crime network, and legitimate political party;
  • Raj Samani’s impressive overview of the rise and evolution of cybercrime, and how it has changed the nature of crime itself.


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