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Global Security Upheaval: Armed Nonstate Groups Usurping State Stability Functions / Edition 1

Global Security Upheaval: Armed Nonstate Groups Usurping State Stability Functions / Edition 1

by Robert Mandel


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780804784986
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Publication date: 04/17/2013
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Robert Mandel is Professor of International Affairs at Lewis and Clark College. He is the author of Dark Logic: Transnational Criminal Tactics and Global Security (Stanford University Press, 2011).

Read an Excerpt

Global Security Upheaval

Armed Nonstate Groups Usurping State Stability Functions

By Robert Mandel


Copyright © 2013Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8047-8497-9




Analytical Focus

THIS STUDY CHALLENGES the prevailing understanding of how security provision works within the contemporary international system. Conventional thinking about international stability rests on five main assumptions: (1) states and intergovernmental organizations are "the dominant locus of authority in global society," as "territorial state sovereignty is the natural and right form of political organization that delineates and produces world order"; (2) armed nonstate groups are illegitimate "spoilers," disrupting security and triggering political disorder and violent conflict; (3) the mass public consistently demands state government protection; (4) private bodies can enhance security only if they do not rely on the threat or use of violence, as with transnational market-based or humanitarian organizations; and (5) if a state is not providing stability, "a strategy of strengthening and expanding governmental capacity would be a sensible response to the governance deficit." Both scholars and policy makers have relied on these tried-and-true premises for centuries.

Since the end of the Cold War in 1989, central state governments have typically been considered the most important or even the sole sources of stability, and subnational and transnational nonstate forces have been identified as a major source of global instability, facilitating ominous disruptive flows of people, goods, and services that have moved readily across international boundaries. Although these claims have some validity, both contentions appear to be too sweeping. In a world where it is possible to identify the devolution of authority from the state to armed nonstate groups, these mainstream security beliefs merit reexamination.

So in contrast, this study calls into question all five commonly held contentions about global stability. A careful assessment of prevailing assumptions and recent real-world trends creates a startling set of counterpropositions: (1) areas exist where it makes little sense to rely on central state governments for stability; (2) attempts to bolster such governments to promote stability often prove to be futile; (3) armed nonstate groups can sometimes provide local stability better than states; (4) power-sharing arrangements between states and armed nonstate groups may sometimes be viable; and (5) these changes in the international setting call for major analytical shifts and significant deviation from standard responses. Figure 1.1 summarizes the differences between conventional and unconventional thinking about stability promotion. These differences reveal a drastic rather than an incremental shift in thinking about global security, one that creates challenges for policy that call for nothing less than a new security framework promoting global order.


This study's central thrust is to analyze conceptually and empirically the ongoing global shift in security governance from public to private hands. It focuses on when this shift is most and least conducive to stability, when armed nonstate groups are most and least effective in promoting stability, and when power sharing between central state governments and armed nonstate groups makes the most and least sense. Thus this investigation emphasizes a fluid "emergent actor" approach rather than a reification of the state system, addressing a crucial security gap in understanding the opportunities and dangers posed by nontraditional coercive sources of authority in international relations.

The two pivotal focal points in this study are stability and armed nonstate groups. When considering stability, the study concentrates on the role of armed nonstate groups; and when considering these groups, it concentrates on their impact on stability. This investigation deemphasizes other nonstate stability sources, including noncoercive subnational and transnational groups; and other outcomes, including justice and human rights. Throughout, there is awareness that the relationship between the study's two main concepts is both two-way and dynamically interactive—besides the impact of armed nonstate groups on stability, the presence or absence of stability may affect the likelihood of emergence and strength of armed nonstate groups.

The United States National Intelligence Council, the American intelligence community's center for long-range strategic thinking, has recognized the centrality of both armed nonstate groups and stability. Armed nonstate groups, whose importance the National Intelligence Council noted because of their growing power in the increasingly multipolar global system, are important because, conceptually, anarchy permits coercive forces other than states to assume some security governance functions; and, empirically, several recent armed nonstate group control attempts have challenged states as the exclusive source of international stability. Within the post–Cold War setting, prevailing security conditions have been conducive to the reemergence of these groups and to their filling existing authority voids. Stability, whose importance the National Intelligence Council underscored through the creation since 2004 of an Instability Watch List, is important because (1) conceptually, stability is widely considered a central facet of local, national, regional, and global security; (2) empirically, the current scope and direction of worldwide instability are truly ominous; and (3) empirically, the United States in its foreign military policy has recently begun using the phrase "stability operations" to describe a key component of its strategy—post-combat goals of "winning the peace" and engaging in successful post-conflict reconstruction, or of minimizing the disruptive impacts of failing states and ungoverned areas. Within a chaotic world containing multiple competing core values, stability merits attention as a necessary but not sufficient security prerequisite, for stability is perhaps the only common security goal transcending profound cultural differences. Examining the emerging relationship between armed nonstate groups and stability brings into question crucial related notions, such as "good" security governance, sovereignty, and legitimacy.

This study's central thrust links up with important broader security issues. These include:

1. changes in security governance, incorporating the contraction of state and expansion of nonstate security functions

2. diversity in both form and function of customary authority structures across countries

3. transformation of the notions of sovereignty and legitimacy in the current global security setting

4. differing conceptions of stability, leading to contrasting and potentially contradictory policies toward armed nonstate groups

5. backfire effects of security governance initiatives on stability, emerging when inappropriate actions are undertaken toward armed nonstate groups

6. proliferating marginalized areas without effective security governance in today's world

7. state reluctance to negotiate or share power with armed nonstate groups

8. difficulties encountered by international law and international organizations in recognizing armed nonstate groups playing a role in security governance

9. acceptance by affected populations of coercive rule if protection and basic survival needs are effectively provided for

10. greater savviness by armed nonstate groups than states in coping with imminent global instability challenges

11. differentiation advantages in policies toward cooperative and uncooperative armed nonstate groups

12. accountability losses resulting from increasingly intertwined nontransparent relations

Excerpted from Global Security Upheaval by Robert Mandel. Copyright © 2013 by Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. Excerpted by permission of STANFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Acknowledgments ix

1 Introduction: Analytical Focus 1

2 The Nature of Stability 14

3 The Nature of Armed Nonstate Groups 37

4 The Transformation in Global Security Control 62

5 Case Studies of Armed Nonstate Group Control Attempts 89

6 Analysis of Case Study Patterns 147

7 Private Coercive Stability Promotion Complexities 169

8 Conclusion: Policy Guidelines 196

Notes 237

Bibliography 263

Index 285

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