The Dark Side Of Globalization

Globalization offers many benefits from cultural exchanges to greater access to products and resources. But there is too a dark side. Josh Marsh pens an article in Quartz that looks at the emerging theory known as deviant globalization, which is described as “the convergence of all of the types of criminal activity that flourish in the teeming underworld of black market economies.”

While the threat from criminal syndicates is not new, Marsh says it is gaining more traction foreign policy analysts acknowledge it is more than mere theory. In an age of globalization and open borders a singular criminal event may be dangerous, but the convergence of criminal human activities pose a far greater threat than previously recognized.

[In 2010, the Congressional Research Service issued an analysis on the emerging threat of transnational terrorism and organized crime and its impact on US policy.]

Threat Reaches All Aspects Of International Security
Nils Gilman, one of the San Francisco theorists from whom the idea originated, tells Quartz that more analysts are recognizing the threat as they begin to realize “that this topic touches on all of the issues that are animating policy—trade policy, security policy, human rights policy, cybersecurity, counterterrorism, humanitarian aid and anti-trafficking—all of the dominant issues when it comes to international security.”

The seriousness of the threat is further reflected in a recently-published and lengthy 200-plus page report  written by Michael Miklaucic and Jacqueline Brewer of the National Defense University. The report discusses in detail how illicit networks, such as drug dealers, pose a real national security threat as they broaden the scope of criminal trafficking activities

“It will take a combination of initiatives to defeat the threats created by illicit criminal networks. These transnational organizations are a large part of the hybrid threat that forms the nexus of illicit drug trafficking—including routes, profits, and corrupting influences—and terrorism, both home grown as well as imported Islamic terrorism,” he writes.

In A Globalized World, Nations Favoring Self-Interest
Despite the reality that the threat is global, many nations continue to favor the interests of their own state over international cooperation. Philip Stephens writes in an op-ed in The Financial Times that while economic interdependence “is an inescapable reality for large as well as small states,” there is not a complementary sense of interdependent cooperation.

“National moods may have changed but the facts of globalisation have not. If anything, the diffusion of state power to non-state actors has accelerated,” Stephens says.

“As an ageing continent with a fast-declining share of global output, Europe has to act as one to uphold its values and interests. China is acutely vulnerable to the depredations of climate change, and to any threats to open markets and global supply routes. For all its relative self-sufficiency, the US cannot avoid distant threats to its prosperity and security.

Flexibility Allows Networks To Stay One Step Ahead
What makes these networks a true threat is not only the freedom of movement that globalization fosters, but that these networks “have demonstrated an ability to adapt, diversify, and converge.” This has enabled them to “continuously reorganize themselves to stay ahead of efforts to combat them.”

Foreign policy analysts have long underestimated the existential threats posed by these networks to the international system itself.

“More important even than insufficient recognition of the efficacy of these adversaries is the absence of a plan to counter the threat they pose to both national security and the international state system. In short, this view does not see the big picture—the long view of the declining robustness and resilience of the global system.”

Unfortunately, the threat may be even more perilous as international cooperation is falling prey to a rising desire among nations to “go it alone.”


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