Dr. Peter Lock
European Association for Research on Transformation e.V.

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Dr. Peter Lock
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last updated:03.01.2011
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The Economy of 'New Wars': Cold Consolidation of Peace through Criminalisation?[1]

Initial considerations

The merit of the discussion on 'new wars' is that it has directed attention to those often seemingly diffuse instances of aggression which current political research registers as wars[2]. The use of the term 'new wars'[3] points to an obvious change in the way in which wars are conducted. Nevertheless, by definition, wars remain a matter for states or a matter concerning a state. At the same time, however, the world is increasingly being characterised by the fact that the essential substance of statehood - the ability to provide public goods such as law and order, education or security - is continuing to diminish. This applies above all, though not exclusively, to the Third World. As a result, the majority of states have long since lost their capability to organise the military defence of their country or to conduct interstate wars. More and more states lack the economic wherewithal or sufficient revenue from taxes to maintain effective forces[4].

Despite this, the political science research community is still closing its eyes to the consequences that will ensue when even the core functions of statehood themselves dry up. The resulting substantial changes in state institutions like the military, which has moved in the direction of self-privatisation in many countries[5], are staunchly denied. A prominent example of this is the collection of data on worldwide military expenditures by SIPRI[6]. There, with great effort but with only moderate success in respect to the reliability of the data, the attempt is made to quantify the annual military expenditures of most of the countries in the world. During the Cold War, military expenditures were seen as an early-warning indicator for the escalation of interstate conflicts. That they were transparent was believed to be an essential prerequisite, if political arms-control initiatives were to be adopted. In view of the realisation - after two barbaric world wars in Europe - that war can no longer be legitimised, especially in Germany, total annual military expenditures lent themselves at the same time to the support of cheap moral indignation over this waste. The Peace Movement denounced these expenditures on armaments as the cause of inadequate social policies. Scenarios for an alternative global use of resources for development purposes had already been conceptualised by the North-South Commission under the dedicated leadership of Willy Brandt and took the form of an expectation of a peace dividend after the end of the Cold War[7]. However this proved to be an illusion.

In the majority of countries of the South, military expenditures have long since mutated from a functional point of view into being police expenditures because the regulation of international financial relations, inspired by neo-liberalism after the implosion of the Soviet Union, has further restricted the fragile fabric of statehood in wide parts of the Third World. Subsidies in the form of arms and military equipment owed during the era of hegemonic competition dried up after the end of the Cold War. Nonetheless, these changes have neither altered the way in which SIPRI collects data - which is orientated to a differentiation between internal and external security according to the western concept of an ideal state - nor have they in any way modified the moral outrage at military expenditures voiced within the political debate on development.

Yet the functional change in the role of the military has largely invalidated the comparative analytic function of these data with its political arms-control objective. Additionally, in many countries it is a very long time since the military has sustained itself by using budgetary means: both legal entrepreneurial activities and criminal activities of all kinds contribute to the support of the military. The armed forces and local units acting independently often function as bandits or extortioners of protection money; many buy arms according to the criterion of maximising bribes and/or developing their outfit into a corporation which then concentrates on maintaining the social privileges of its members under the mantel of national security. This manifests itself in the establishment of companies and banks controlled by the military which, in turn, render easier the conclusion of illegal financial transactions in connection with smuggling and drug dealing.

In relation to military tasks which - as distinct from policing tasks - are geared towards national defence, very large sections of the world are on the path to economically determined structural disarmament. As in the case of the absurd, and surely non-representative constellation of war between Eritrea and Ethiopia this can lead to both sides leasing the required capacities to wage aerial warfare from Eastern Europe, including personnel. The prevailing ideology on development[8] has assimilated the changes in reality through the paradigm 'security sector reform'[9] that unites the concepts of development and security programmatically.

For political research, and hence also for the data collection for the SIPRI Yearbooks, this means that the set of instruments previously available no longer adequately reflects reality. Treating the military in a special way is largely obsolete. In most countries nowadays the police and the military are involved equally in the - usually inadequate - production of the public good 'security'. Not least because of the insufficient provision of funds to state agencies, the police and military are considered unreliable by large sections of the public, or even a threat. That is why private security companies are expanding: the public good 'security' is being transformed into a rapidly expanding market for private security services. Even the state acts as a buyer in this market - when prisons are privatised, for instance, or when the United States wishes to keep the political profile of its interventions low. This privatisation process is accompanied by the wide-spread commodification of security, the segmentation of society into separate social areas, the privatisation of public domains and the emergence of areas open to violence in which criminal actors exercise ruling powers and pocket protection money. The lamenting of high military expenditures in the Third World in the political debate on development is only still appropriate in a few, isolated cases. Rather it is question of discussing appropriate forms of, and improvement in the production of, the public good 'security' as a necessary precondition for development. Little indicates that the European model of the social state can be reproduced all over the world, as the programmatic debate on reform of the security sector implies.

Within the political-science discipline 'international relations' one has countered the thematic expropriation through the actual development by introducing the paradigms of 'new wars' (that are in fact no longer such) and 'failed states', neatly packaged in numerous anglicisms - and it is this that has set the research community back on its feet again. To my mind, these definitions remain nothing more than a set of blinkers which prevents the discipline from focusing first and foremost on the protection of human life and the right to physical integrity in the face of structural changes in the world community[10]. For, clearly, more people are being murdered in mega-cities and their peripheries, where the apartheid of poverty is rife, than in many of the current armed conflicts listed as 'wars' in the catalogues of research on the causes of war[11].

Shadow globalisation or the indispensable logistics of armed conflict

The term 'shadow globalisation' shines light on the dynamic economic entwinement between the arenas of prosperity, which are largely western, and the great majority of people living in poverty under social apartheid. The ILO reckons that around four billion people are forced to organise their life in informal spheres. This social apartheid outside efficient statehood is exacerbated by the current neo-liberal regulation of the world economy. Shadow globalisation is nothing other than the Siamese twin of a globalisation regulated in a neo-liberal manner whose aggressive systematic pressure leaves hardly any more niches free for autonomous pockets of life worldwide. In place of stable social reproduction that evolves in a predictable manner and is the essential basis for social cohesion, we now have insecurity. The externally caused elimination of productive participation in social reproduction is a daily threat. It leads to marginalisation and has nothing to do with Schumpeter's creative destruction as a driving force in capitalistic modernisation.

Corrupt and bloated states were diagnosed by the World Bank and the IWF as being the cause of underdevelopment. Beginning in the eighties, the premise 'out of the frying pan into the fire' was applied in the form of forced structural adjustment programmes. The result: reduction in the role of the state, social polarisation, and criminalisation of society outside the range of constantly diminishing state power. In the race between hare and hedgehog to secure the most profitable locations on the world markets (and the lowest wages), a race directed by an international financial capital that is becoming more and more fleeting, the majority of the people face elites who are rapidly becoming richer - the hedgehogs who always win - and their co-opted helpers while they themselves remain the losing, harassed hares.

Frequently used terms such as 'black labour' and 'shadow economy' hide the global dimension of the fight for survival of the obvious losers in the world community. The unstoppably growing volume of remittances by migrant workers to their families and creditors, which has long since become the main source of foreign currency for many poor countries lacking natural resources, is a mirror of the shadow globalisation. The extent of these remittances cannot be explained through legal diaspora alone[12]: rather, in many countries the fight for survival under social apartheid forces millions of people to emigrate illegally to a situation where they are completely without rights in an existence in illegality. Governments controlled by small elites see this export of human beings as a financial resource and have even encouraged this hidden and sometimes open emigration from a situation of misery they themselves are partially responsible for[13].

Powerful transnational criminal networks organise the illegal international flows of human beings and control illegal trade on a large scale. It is a facet of the logic of how they function that there is little transparency and we only catch a glimpse of the tip of the iceberg now and then, for example, when people suffocate in containers in which they have been smuggled across borders.

Over one hundred years after the general interdiction of slavery, human beings as a commodity have become a product branch in the sphere of shadow globalisation. The forced opening of the markets and the imperative of international finance flows, that appear a factual necessity, have cheapened the price of human labour in such a radical way that even in a country of coercion like the PR China it is no longer profitable to operate gulags and slave-like forced labour, leading to the almost complete dissolution of the gulags. The allocation of the production of goods and to an increasing extent also services - and thus likewise the chance to earn a living - is now taking place within the global economic sphere, largely detached from individual local conditions. Those who migrate illegally for the purpose of either work or survival only have a chance of illegal employment in the area of locally-bound activities or services in the shadow of prosperity[14]. That is why the largest part of the migrant community increasingly consists of women. The term used is the 'feminisation of migration': child care and housework carried out by girls and women without rights, for example from Southeast Asia, make it possible for even the lower middle class in the prosperous zones of the industrial and the Arab oil-producing countries to live an emancipated, modern and comfortable life thanks to low-cost 'nannies'. But, whatever the situation, the prosperity of the employers' household always increases. A good many women have entered the United States on a visitor's visa in order to support their families back home. There is no turning back from such trips: although the women manage to support their families, they will never see them again as they are damned to a clandestine life without rights[15].

A core area of shadow globalisation from the very beginning has been drug dealing. Dealing in narcotics is the product of the interdiction of the use of drugs, including alcohol, which first arose in the United States less than one hundred years ago. The ban on alcohol was lifted almost immediately because criminality began to dominate the social life of the USA and also because it had not proved effective. However the pressure to prosecute the consumption of other drugs was stepped up. After World War II, and under pressure from the USA, the ban on these drugs became an international norm, and the United Nations were given the task of implementing it. However, there is no evidence to show that the worldwide machinery enforcing this ban actually restricts drug use. On the contrary, transnational, highly profitable criminal networks have emerged as a result of this policy. Moreover, the pressure of law enforcement, which costs the tax payer billions worldwide, is the direct cause of the high profit margins of various drugs whose production costs are in fact minimal. In the USA alone, there are more than a million 'street dealers' in prison, mainly young men from social backgrounds where apartheid is predominant, and Afro- and Hispanic Americans. In Germany as well, it is estimated that two-thirds of prison inmates have been imprisoned either directly or indirectly in connection with drugs (drug-related crime).

Drug use and the black market labour of men and women emigrating in order to survive must be seen as examples of the numerous symbiotic trade-offs between the 'Siamese twins' globalisation and shadow globalisation. On the other hand, urine tests in the toilets of parliaments and stock exchanges, especially in Wall Street, bear witness to the cocaine consumption of various elites on the executive levels of neo-liberal globalisation.

Since the end of the Cold War, when the rival support from the Soviet Union or the United States to the conflict parties of the Third World ceased to be available, this dynamic dual structure of the world economy has formed the arena of action in which warring parties must assert themselves. It is particularly true of non-state actors in armed conflicts that shadow economic competence is a prerequisite for the capacity to carry out military action. However most governments involved in hostilities see themselves likewise confronted with similar requirements, as their tax reserves tend to be minimal or to collapse in the course of the conflict. Hence diverse chains of criminal economic transactions on a global scale are a characteristic of current armed conflict, as military equipment almost exclusively stems from production in the industrialised countries. The means of payment is foreign exchange. As they say in the milieu: "No 'greenbacks', no arms". Thus actors involved in wars are dependent upon acquiring goods which can be traded internationally, and usually only illegally, or on extorting foreign exchange from some other source such as their own diaspora. On the other hand, armed formations can also be supported by taking over humanitarian aid by force.

In other words, each cartridge, each automatic weapon that reaches the hands of so-called child solders, for example, is preceded in time by a mostly complex chain of transactions through which the goods are channelled out of illegality and into regular economic spheres in order to generate the necessary foreign exchange for the illegal purchase. The warring parties are therefore dependent upon greedy brokers in tropical wood, precious stones, diamonds and money laundering, and on the demand for illegal drugs. Alternatively they can resort to transactions regulated by force - such as extorting protection money, trafficking in human beings or kidnapping.

If an armed conflict makes it into the spotlight of the international media, this normally sets the machinery of the international aid industry in motion, opening up opportunities to appropriate resources which in turn help to fuel the armed struggle. Many of the actors concerned have long known this and now 'stage-manage' the armed conflict so that humanitarian instincts and sympathies are mobilised in western societies via the media[16].

The interweaving of globalisation and shadow globalisation takes a great many forms. The current debates on development on the one hand and strategies to curb violence on the other, which regularly call in the United Nations, fail to acknowledge this intermeshing which also spreads over into our society or to identify the dealers who profit so well from it. It is in this way that small elites plunder the wealth of their own countries and heat up property markets at fine locations in areas of prosperity with their ready cash. The money is usually laundered on the pirate islands of financial capital, previously Geneva and Zurich, now among others the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. When these elites gain control of coveted raw materials, as for example in Angola, Nigeria or the republics of the Caucasus, the chances are high that the western world will not interfere. Take, for example, the ending of the war in Angola which has up to now been limited to the co-opting of the UNITA elite by the MPLA oligarchy. Together they continue to appropriate considerable income from the export of raw materials as an oligarchy while the population at large sinks further into the misery generated by the war.

But the almost regular, direct results of UN peace missions, like prostitution and trafficking in human beings, must also be brought into focus. The mirror image of the massive international presence in Kosovo are criminal networks. Among their sinecures is the demand induced by international helpers, and their preferred hunting grounds is the totally impoverished Moldova; here they acquire women who are then forced into prostitution in Kosovo and throughout Europe. The list of the symbiotic interweaving of regular spheres of life with the illegal networks of shadow globalisation is long. Many areas have not yet been recognised while others are ignored because of small personal advantages. Generally speaking, we simply do not have a sound picture of social reality characterised by this two-sided global networking.

In the political debate on development one sometimes hears voices that see in the dynamics of the informal spheres of life a chance to overcome poverty. This however overlooks the fact that a reliable legal system and security are essential prerequisites for functioning markets, and hence for development. As long as the monopoly of force lies in the hands of locally dominant, violent actors who extort protection money or control trade through the threat of physical harm, then entrepreneurial activities will be paralysed. For economic success, even at the very lowest level, has no protection against violent expropriation unless a legal system based on the monopoly of legitimate (state) power exists.

Everywhere where security is not provided by the state as a public good, people have to rely on an alternative way of organising security. In such situations of insecurity social formations develop on the basis of ideologies of identity. These define 'we' and 'the others' and thus trigger a dynamic process of social segmentation which imparts the 'we' with a feeling of collective security and at the same time a collective threat from 'the others'. In many cases this polarisation escalates rapidly and leads to conflicts that turn violent. It is an inherent characteristic of this segmentation that the political agents of the ideology of identity are transformed into criminal (economic) actors because, as is usual with informality, the social disintegration linked to this polarisation encourages their integration into the networks of the shadow globalisation. Under Milosevich, rump-Yugoslavia took this path and mutated into a regime controlled by criminal economic actors who had cynically instrumentalised a Serbian ideology of identity in order to retain their sinecures in the face of the dramatic impoverishment of the people. For Milosevich at the time, Cyprus was a gateway to shadow globalisation, just as it was for Russian oligarchs who thrived on and controlled the ‘transformation’.

From self-deception of the policy of intervention: The example of ex-Yugoslavia

The long-term expectation that Bosnia, Macedonia, Serbia, including the province of Kosovo claimed by Serbia under international law, and Montenegro would embark, or are indeed already on a path towards economic development and the development of political institutions in the internationally administered territories, in order to become 'EU-compatible', stands in stark contrast to what is possible from an economic and above all employment policy-related point of view under the conditions of the ruling neo-liberal orthodoxy of regulation. This situation is exacerbated by the continued or even increased phobia towards immigration into the EU directed towards non-EU citizens.

The following considerations relate to the province of Kosovo claimed by Serbia, for which the ethnic Albanian population is demanding national autonomy under the name of "Kosova". The basic arguments also apply to the other above mentioned parts of former Yugoslavia. If one disregards the geographical feature of being close to the EU, similar processes can also be observed in other countries in conflict such as Algeria or El Salvador.

As with numerous other UN missions, the political assignment of the international administration in Kosovo is to promote the development of a democratically legitimised and constitutionally drafted statehood. In doing so it is basing its task on a model of developed statehood and of the corresponding social norms that only became completely effective in Europe last century, during the seventies, at the end of a long process. The costs which are being incurred by the current attempt to implement statehood are neither in any reasonable proportion to the returns, nor will the economy of this area be in a position to support this state constitution independently in the long run[17].

This historical burden of the current state of Kosovo society is above all due to the persistent failure of the Tito dictatorship in respect to economic and integration policies. The many years of legal migration to find work, mainly to Western Europe, and, after the labour markets there were closed, the illegal migration have turned the economic structure of the province into a hybrid transnational entity in which remittances from migrants and the powerful transnational networks of the shadow economy play a central role. According to Czempiel's terminology, the country of Kosovo would be located almost entirely within the international ‘society world’ (Gesellschaftswelt), and not in the world of nation states, as a kind of state-free, transnational zone in which an international administration was to all intents and purposes living an independent existence. The latter generates a demand for qualified (translators, etc.) and criminally organised services (such as sex workers). As soon as the enormous costs of this 'peacekeeping' with its inefficiency become transparent in Europe, the European strategy will be forced to change because numerous similarly structured demands from the Third World will press the EU to provide comparable commitments.

In the non-violent dispute with the Serbian state under the leadership of Rugova before the NATO intervention, the ethnic Albanian population had rendered extraordinary, quasi-state services, above all the public good 'education', on the basis of a revenue from informal taxes. This dynamic pre-form of effective statehood vanished within the course of the quasi-colonial structural renewal. It reverted to solidarity networks consisting of wider family members and became increasingly dominated by criminal actors. At any rate it is to be expected that the transformation of this colonial pre-form into regular statehood will fail. Hence, in the near future, the EU will have to set these high subsidies against the meagre results.

It is unlikely that the situation will develop in the direction of statehood, that is, in the direction of a social contract between the people and the state in which the citizens honour the services of the state by paying taxes in a disciplined manner. For among other things this would presuppose the voluntary dissolution of the dominant shadow economic structures. According to this hypothesis, the sovereignty of a territory "Kosova" composed of people of Albanian origin and set up in the near future would lack the economic prerequisites necessary to sustain statehood through tax revenues that would be required to be based on the economic performance of this state. The "Criminalisation de l’État"[18] (criminalisation of the state) would be the unavoidable result of "Kosova" immediately becoming an sovereign state, for formal sovereign statehood above all creates additional opportunities for criminal appropriation if it has to function or is created in an environment of powerful shadow-economy networks.

When one considers the economic facts, the chances are minimal that the development both expected and formulated by the EU will come about, a development, that is, which would fulfil the entry criteria to the EU within the medium term. Economic development is dictated by the neo-liberal regulation of markets and finances, a situation which unavoidably requires open markets and thus leads, among other things, to the marginalisation of local agricultural production. If one looks at the endowment with resources[19] and at the location in respect to successful, that is, competitive participation in the worldwide competition in goods and services then it quickly becomes clear that a nation state "Kosova" would have no chance of offering its population regular employment in sectors that would be competitive at an international level. If one takes stock of the human capital available within the Kosovo-Albanian identity group, then it soon becomes clear that the more productive sections of the population are living either legally or illegally as diaspora. These people have little incentive to return to the region even if they still see it ideologically or emotionally as their home. They are living a postmodern, transnational identity, mainly in the EU and Switzerland, a fact which generates substantial remittances for family networks.

Migration is the motor of economic development; this is what the history of Europe, and especially Germany, shows. The EU and, above all, Germany have been strongly marked by migration. There have been many economic areas in Europe's history whose extreme underdevelopment and subsequent poverty could only be overcome by emigration[20] to other European countries or to the USA. Take as a target region the Ruhr Area or the USA, both of which profited from immigration, and Sweden, Poland or Galicia as countries of origin from whose emigration many states have benefited extraordinarily, even if they have not always admitted it.

In view of the dismal prospects of integrating themselves into the regular economy, especially for the coming generation, the pressure to migrate will by necessity increase. In sharp contrast to nationalist rhetoric, the individual plans that many, and perhaps even most of the young people have made for their life are geared to this bitter but realistic perspective. They are looking for chances to emigrate with all their might, if necessary even illegal ones. This stands in stark contrast to the growing phobia within the EU towards immigration and even towards temporary residence for the purpose of work on which the prosperity of the EU will depend in the future. In other words, the geographical political entities left over after the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, mentioned above, now find themselves in a boiler isolated from the EU[21] whose internal pressure is bound to rise, preventing the development of democratic structures.

No perspective without a change in the paradigm of regulation

In the foreseeable future, the territorial entities left over from the former Yugoslavia that are hardly viable must be granted employment-orientated protection for their national economies in deviation from the present regulative orthodoxy, preferably within a common internal market. Yet this on its own will not be enough to put these entities on the development path towards the EU to which there is no alternative. It is necessary to realise at last that this area belongs once and for all to Europe and that a liberal migration regime, especially for young people, is in the interest of all parties. For, on the one hand, the isolation practised at present by the EU only creates additional opportunities in the criminal markets of the shadow economy without restricting actual migration to any considerable extent. Through the current paradigm of isolation[22] generated by the EU policy only the criminalisation of migration is encouraged while migration itself is not prevented. The majority of citizens of former Yugoslavia are still 'Europeans sans papiers'.

It would be to the advantage of the EU to revert to the historically proven fact that migration has always shown itself to be a factor for growth if it wishes to develop a policy towards the Western Balkans whose perspective is realistic. To put this succinctly, the prospect of democratic statehood only has a chance to materialise in the province of Kosovo which is still claimed by Serbia if the EU opens itself up to migration and transforms the problem of the dominance of the shadow economy into regular economic opportunities, especially for young people, over a fairly long period of time. Only in this way can a social contract facilitating statehood develop. This applies to all territories claiming state autonomy in the Western Balkans. On their path towards state autonomy - which might in any case lose some of its significance in time - it could be advantageous to demand in unison a deviation from regulative orthodoxy and to create a protected internal market with employment as the central goal. For, if the horrendous unemployment which is increasingly hitting the younger generation is not overcome by migration into the EU on the one hand and employment in the local economy on the other, the Western Balkans, including the territory of Kosovo, will remain a boiler which will sooner or later explode causing violent catastrophes and contributing to the extension of transnational criminal networks.

The economy of 'new wars' as a normal characteristic of dual globalisation

Much speaks for the thesis that the dynamics of shadow globalisation provides conflict parties with a productive room in which to operate that is generally not affected by sanctions on account of the highly flexible, and therefore stable, network structures. The widespread weakening of statehood - and the extension of areas open to corruption and violence which this entails - allows them to skilfully evade the pressure of prosecution by state organs[23]. Viewed in terms of volume, transactions connected with war economies are not of great significance in this area of operation[24]. Nonetheless they fit into the dynamic expansion of shadow economic structures in the world economy in the era of neo-liberal regulation.

In their functional multidisciplinarity as military strategists, shadow economy operators and political agitators, the leaders of the armed conflicts are required to maintain a permanent balance between these three typical ideal roles. Being successful as a shadow economic operator is however always an essential prerequisite for the other roles. At the same time, though, in this role, the 'warlords' and 'political leaders' are exposed to global competition. In order to be able to survive in the face of this competition from powerful shadow economic networks, it is normally necessary to concentrate primarily on this role, a fact that has wide-reaching consequences for the character of armed conflicts: the absolute priority of the economic dimension brings about a tendency to apply more discipline to military acts of violence.

At the same time it is true of the entire shadow economic area that transactions are generally carried out through the application of violence; that is, the necessary security of the contract depends on a credible threat of violence. Be that as it may, stable economic success always demands that violent acts take a low profile in the public eye. Thus identity groups which are widely dispersed and which often include economically potent diaspora have a competitive advantage on the markets of the shadow economy. For, in networks which can rely on group solidarity and on being safely closed off from the outside, activities are less at risk from state persecution because visible regulative force is to a much lesser extent necessary to secure the guarantee of a contract in shadow economic transactions than would be the case without the social capital of an identity group.

If a longstanding conflict is ended by an internationally sanctioned peace agreement then the recipe is usually: Disarm the 'fighters' and conduct democratic elections as speedily as possible. For the time being, the economic structures, and in particular the power structures linked to these, continue to exist. Moreover, for the time being, the leaders in the post-war scenario also remain the same; only their military role is reduced or ceases to exist. Survival and economic roles continue to be dealt out within the hierarchies of the war-economy power structures characterised by clientelism and identity groups. Discourses on political identities in armed conflict may be transformed into election platforms but the persons remain the same. In this way, democratic elections simply offer a new facade for existing power relations which thereby receive political legitimacy under international supervision.

The surprise - and sometimes outrage - voiced by the liberal public that warlords, drug bosses, pimps and black-market dealers who have presented themselves as national agitators turn into members of parliament and ministers after elections[25] is naive and shows that the political discussion shies away from an honest analysis of the contradiction between the ruling ideology of economic regulation and the demands of restructuring war economies in the shadow economic area into economic areas organised in such a way that statehood leads to a social, legitimately confirmed contract that can be reproduced by tax revenues. As long as no strategy of protected integrative employment is provided with international help, especially for young people, the dictatorship of the international community offers no alternative in post-war societies to the relative security of being integrated into the powerful clientelistic hierarchies left behind by the war economy or to emigration which is normally only possible by illegal means.

If one fits these considerations into the structural changes that characterise the worldwide social reality as a result of radical modernisation and the adjusting of production structures to suit the global market, then there seems to be a tendency towards a decrease in armed territorial conflicts and/or a transformation in the form in which armed conflicts are conducted[26]. For only in exceptional cases does the relative reproductive autonomy of rural life, which was a necessary resource for conducting war in the past, continue to exist. With this, there is a tendency that the survival of the largest proportion of the world community is directly put at risk in a short space of time by the infrastructural disturbances triggered almost unavoidably by warlike actions, as the flow of goods, necessary to ensure survival, is interrupted. This is all the more so the case because the breathtaking expansion of more than one hundred mega-cities has created agglomerations that are hypersensitive. People's lives - and above all those of the poor and the marginalised - are dependent upon the functioning of a 'just-in-time' circulation for subsistence. This global social change, or this modernisation, reduces the 'elasticity for survival' vis-à-vis infrastructural disturbances. Possibilities of securing subsistence within the local or regional environment in the case of war do not exist within a system of agriculture specialised to meet the demands of the (world) market.

The structural reduction in social 'elasticity for survival' as a result of social modernisation can be interpreted as a tendency towards the structural inability to conduct traditional territorial war. For tendentially, under such conditions, wars that are conducted in a territorial manner must immediately turn into total humanitarian catastrophes. Along with the demands of a war economy, discussed in detail above, this means a further limitation of action for potential war actors whose as a rule rational calculation for action ought to prevent a humanitarian 'worse-case scenario'.

However it would be wrong to expect that peace would be consolidated through the criminalisation of the state, along with correspondingly less victims of violence. For, in the present world order, social fragmentation does not only lead to ‘regulative violence’. The loss of social capital in the wake of marginalisation and the criminalisation of statehood spawns a great variety of violent eruptions which cannot be explained away as calculated, ‘regulative violence’.

A differentiation between 'regulative' and 'situative violence' is useful. 'Situative' denotes forms of violence which cannot be termed strategic action. Here it is a question of local, uncontrolled, spontaneous occurrences. The actors and victims are primarily young men who experience their situation in life as one of dual exclusion: without a chance on the regular work market, the world they live in is one of exclusion in poverty. The ubiquitous friction caused by modernisation determines the wide-scale dissolution of traditional structures so that there is no longer any context into which these young people can grow up. In view of the lack of perspective with which young people in many parts of the Third World have to live, social norms and traditions and/or pre-modern informal authorities lose their ability to guide behaviour. These young people have to look after themselves and find their place in this situation of insecure informality. They see their situation as one of intergenerational apartheid.

At the same time the media continually confronts them with a world of mass consumption which is unattainable for them. This is reflected in hip-hop and rap. Worldwide, these cultures of youth music have developed into the mode of expression of young people living in exclusion, oscillating between individual fantasies of violence, which open up the way to the world of mass consumption, and political recriminations.

Brazilian and South African studies confirm that a considerable proportion of homicides are the result of a combination of the dissolution of traditional social ties, particularly to the family, and alcohol and drugs. Social norms have not been properly internalised; social cohesion is correspondingly weak. Petty quarrels lead to the use of violence, often ending in death. These are manifestations of situative violence showing the loss of social control through accepted norms. However each act of situative violence harbours the risk of an uncontrolled escalation with its own dynamics. In armed conflicts, the leadership hierarchies are at the same time usually not able to assert themselves. This harbours the constant danger that the actions of war take on a reality divorced from their original strategic aim. Every time the warlike application of violence takes on an situative independence of its own, this means an escalation of brutality because the other side naturally does not perceive this differentiation.

For an adequate reaction, for example, by a peace mission, it would however be of decisive importance to know the actual code of the violent occurrences. Current wars are characterised by discontinuous processes, the parallelity of military action and shadow economic transactions, including those between the warring parties, and islands of normal civilian life. Thus the worlds that people live in in decayed states, new wars and post-war situations have many characteristics in common. Among these are always situative and regulative violence which are seldom differentiated in the portrayal of wars by the media.


[1]This text arose in connection with the international research project "Challenge The Changing Landscape of European Liberty and Security" (Sixth Framework Programme of the EU).

[2]Among the most important lists of wars are: SIPRI Yearbook; Gurr, AKUF

[3] In the English-speaking area, the term was introduced by Mary Kaldor, New & Old Wars, Organized Violence in a Global Era, Oxford 1999 and in the German-speaking region by Herfried Münkler, Die neuen Kriege, Hamburg 2002.

[4] Naturally it is in keeping with the corporate self-interest of the military to deny such a development and to claim that only they have the capability to wage wars.

[5] Two forms of self-privatisation with fluid transitions between them dominate. On account of insufficient remuneration from tax revenues, members of the institutions of the state apparatus of power transform themselves into predators on their own behalf, extorting payments as a corporation via the threat of physical harm or providing private security services to solvent actors, especially international corporations. Other members of the civil service only carry out certain services in exchange for bribes. An extreme and, up to now, little noticed example of wide-scale self-privatisation of the civil service behind the facade of a strong state, including that of schools and universities, is Russia under Putin. In other words, state actors only provide services in exchange for illegal payoffs.

[6] SIPRI, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, publishes these data in the SIPRI Yearbook, Oxford University Press.

[7] The UN Human Development Report of 1992 went so far as to estimate without any substantiation that 1000 billion dollars would become available as a peace dividend in the last decade of the 20th century.

[8] The British Department for International Development is the ideological opinion leader and has proved very influential vis-à-vis the direction of development-cooperation programmes in the countries of continental Europe.

[9] Security sector reform aims at guiding police, the military and private actors strategically towards the optimisation of inner security.

[10] Fundamental criticism of the discipline is voiced in this respect by Steve Smith, Singing Our World into Existence: International Relations Theory and September 11, in: International Studies Quarterly (2004), Vol. 48, pp. 499-515; and Anna M. Aghatangelou, L. H. M. Ling, Power, Borders, Security, Wealth: Lessons of Violence and Desire from September 11, in: International Studies Quarterly (2004) Vol. 48, pp. 517-538.

[11] See in this connection: Norwegian Church Aid: Who takes the bullet? The impact of small arms violence, Oslo 2005, p. 16f.

[12] In the meantime the IWF has programmatically co-opted these resources that were directly generated by its policies. In its most recent report, "Global Economic Prospects 2006, Economic Implications of Remittances and Migration" (Washington D.C., 2006), attention is drawn to the potential of remittances to overcome worldwide poverty. In 2004, 167 billion dollars were apparently registered, to which a high sum of informal remittances should be added.

[13] This development is in no way new but has accelerated. See: Peter Lock, Grenzenlose Geschäfte - Diktatoren leben von Rücküberweisungen, in: Der Überblick, 3/2002, p. 64f. For example, it has been reported that the rightist government of El Salvador helped their own people to submit applications for political asylum in the USA during the war.

[14] On account of the widespread outplacement of industrial production, the demand for cheap illegal labour is diminishing with the result that men are now normally only sought after for agricultural harvesting.

[15] In Singapore, for instance, migrant women workers are deported if they become pregnant. In general this means that their status largely without rights leaves them more or less unprotected against the danger of rape.

[16] The parties to the conflict in Bosnia had all engaged PR agencies in London to channel their 'version' of the war to the western media.

[17] It is often overlooked that economies of scale apply to statehood too and that, with the same tax burden, states with small territories are correspondingly less productive.

[18] This is the title of a book by B. Hibou et al. dealing with state decay in Africa and the simultaneous development of para-state actors and institutions. It is available in English and French.

[19] This includes among other things human capital, the proximity of a location to markets and a favourable climate for agricultural specialisation.

[20] See: Klaus J. Bade, Europa in Bewegung, Migration vom späten 18. Jahrhundert bis zur Gegenwart, Munich 2000.

[21] Serbian students have reported that India is the only country in the world to which Serbs can travel without a visa. It is obvious that this does not imply a rapprochement to the EU. One would perhaps do well to remember that the liberation of Western Europe from the authoritarian ideologies of fascism after the Second World War was accompanied by large-scale offers to the youth of Europe, among other things, to get to know America. At the beginning of the fifties, the European movement found its symbolic expression in the demonstrative joint tearing down of the border barriers at the German-French border by young people.

[22] In their isolation from Europe, their self-awareness is probably little different from that felt by the people of the GDR in the face of travel bans, except that this time the signs are reversed and the discrimination and isolation originates from the EU.

[23] The dynamic change in the global drug-dealing networks demonstrates this flexibility. See: A. Labrousse, ed., Dictionnaire Géopolitique des Drogues, Brussels 2003.

[24] Estimates, however vague, assume that the 'global gross criminal product' alone amounts to over 1500 billion US dollars. Measured against this sum, the identified war-economy transactions of the Tamil Tigers for example are fairly modest.

[25] The most recent example is the recently assembled parliament in Liberia. There, a close friend of Taylor has been elected to the position of parliamentary president. What is more, it is not a matter of chance that a large proportion of the parliament chosen on the basis of 'free elections' just happens to belong to this group of persons.

[26]Peter Lock, Zur Zukunft des Krieges - Zwischen Schattenglobalisierung und US-Militärstrategie, in: Joachim Becker, Gerald Hödl, Peter Steyerer, eds. Krieg an den Rändern - Imperialismus und Gewalt von Sarajewo bis Kuito, Vienna (Promedia Verlag & Südwind) 2005, pp. 60-73.