John Robb on resilience

A few weeks back I interviewed John Robb, the military futurist and author of ‘Brave New War.’  We discussed the irruption of Latin American drug gangs into West Africa. Robb sees this as symptomatic of a broader push by “global guerrillas” – armed transnational criminal organisations – to take advantage of weaknesses in the global system:

We have a global market system that is subverting the nation state, so gaps where local control is lost are going to spring up all over the place, even in relatively developed states. There will be lapses where non-state groups like global guerrillas take control. If they’ve found a hole in West Africa, there are no barriers to their expansion.

Although they are drawn to “hollow states” like Guinea-Bissau, however, contrary to dire warnings of instability from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime the South Americans are unlikely to want to shake up the status quo too much. According to John Robb:

They don’t want warfare in West Africa – they want the maximum level of corruption and to be left alone, with bureaucratic apparatus geared towards helping them to do business. Almost across the board you’ll see that non-state groups are not trying to take over the national government. They don’t want that burden – it raises the profile, puts you on the international radar screen and leads to economic blockades. If there’s a nominal government in place they’ll keep the infrastructure up – they’re parasites off the infrastructure.

I asked Robb how Africa might deal with the problem, which got him talking about resilient communities: (more…)