"The Total Blurring of Crime and War":
The Small Wars Journal describes 3rd Generation Gang Warfare. Iraq may lead, but Latin America and parts of the USA are following hard behind.
This brings us some measure of concern with regard to the future prospects vis-à-vis the gang situation in the Americas. As more and more 3 GEN Gangs begin to emerge, thrive, and expands their networks in the Western Hemisphere the long term prospects for large regions of the Americas may very well, at some point, also come into question. Currently, 3 GEN Gangs have already take control in slums and other urban no-go zones, prisons, and some provinces and territories of various states including Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico. That such gangs are now starting to emerge within the United States should also give pause for concern. These developments in global context may ultimately cause us to re-examine our policies in the Americas and elevate our concerns over the “Gangs of the Americas” to the same level as that currently afforded the “Gangs of Iraq.”
Whether or not the Small Wars Journal article is overstating the case, the fact remains that traditional tools of statecraft such as the United Nations, foreign aid, diplomacy and even armies have proven very ineffective against this mode of warfare -- if warfare it is. But given the potency of subnational groups like Hezbollah which squared off against the IDF, or Hamas which threatens to take over Gaza, or al-Qaeda which aims to devour the world and actually attacked Manhattan or even Ansar al-Islam which is rampaging in the Lebanese refugee camps it would be Jesuitic to split semantic hairs.
It is this fact: the discovery of a disease without an apparent cure, which makes the debate over the withdrawal from Iraq somewhat beside the point. It makes as much sense as finding an incurable, virulent plague in a Middle Eastern city and saying, "oh well, time to go back to Topeka. I won't read about it there." If nations have no counter to 3rd Generation warfare then what to do when it spreads to Kurdistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan and elsewhere? Keep withdrawing? Maybe Murtha was right after all. Best to fall back all the way to Okinawa from Iraq if we're going to wind up there anyway. What is germane is to ask in the face of a plague is what does our dearly bought experience tell us about how to confront it? What have we learned about fighting 3rd Generation warfare or whatever you want to call it? Can we mobilize all the elements of national power to effectively fight it in its many settings?
One good place to start counterattacking is to achieve bipartisan consensus that a threat exists so the focus can shift to finding solutions rather than imagining that everything is imaginary. That awakening will come eventually. The enemy itself will see to that. But if there is any statesmanship left in the West then its leaders should anticipate its public by a little. Better to sound the warning themselves then wait until al-Qaeda -- or some other outfit -- announces it with blood and mayhem.
In this respect the interview between Robert Wright and Gershom Gorenberg on what to do, if anything, about the dogfight in Gaza may be interesting. Short take: ain't got it figured out yet.