The Specter of Ungoverned Spaces & How Advances in Network Analysis Can Assist Policymakers

The Specter of Ungoverned Spaces & How Advances in Network Analysis Can Assist Policymakers                                      

Jeffery Julum and Daniel Evans

Introduction

The recently published National Military Strategy (NMS) emphasizes the high probability of hybrid conflicts that will increase ambiguity, complicate decision-making, and slow the coordination of effective responses. Due to the advantages to the aggressor in this environment, it is likely that this form of conflict will persist well into the future. The NMS also emphasizes the importance of security cooperation with mature allies and building capacity for emerging U.S. partners.

Additionally, the U.S. Army Functional Concept for Engagement states, “Future operational environments will be characterized by uncertainty, complexity, rapid change, and a range of potential threats. They will be marked by various levels of conflict among nations and groups competing for wealth, resources, political authority, sovereignty, and legitimacy. The distinctions between threats will blur for the U.S. These include, for example, the nature of enemies and adversaries, and the multiplicity of actors involved. In addition, friendly and unfriendly actors will attempt to adapt to an ever-changing environment, which may lack a system of governance or rule of law.”

Our team has spent the last four months studying ungoverned spaces and the unique characteristics that will impact potential future military operations. The team has initiated an innovative network modeling technique that has resulted in the development of influence network models with multiple layers. The team has also developed two innovative network assessment techniques as well as an algorithm that assists with the strategic prioritization of actions. We have currently refined these methods on single layer network models and will refine these techniques on the multi-layer network models that we have developed over the next six months. This paper introduces the potential of using network analysis techniques in this environment.  

Background

Recent operations and wargames have demonstrated that the Army will face future operational challenges requiring an especially versatile, adaptable, and agile force.  Rapidly evolving social, economic, and physical structures throughout the world suggest that future operations will involve complex systems, unexpected scenarios, and nonlinear processes.  These environments have been described as having four components: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity (VUCA). VUCA operations are increasingly forecast to be conducted in ungoverned spaces, or regions in which “states do not exercise ‘effective sovereignty.”  Three recently published military strategy documents emphasize the likelihood of operating in this VUCA environment.

First, the recently published National Military Strategy (NMS) (June 2015) emphasizes the high probability of hybrid conflicts that will increase ambiguity, complicate decision-making, and slow the coordination of effective responses. It states that “due to the advantages to the aggressor in this environment, it is likely that this form of conflict will persist well into the future.” The NMS also emphasizes the importance of security cooperation with mature allies and building capacity for emerging U.S. partners.

Second, the U.S. Army Functional Concept for Engagement (February 2014) states that, “Future operational environments will be characterized by uncertainty, complexity, rapid change, and a range of potential threats. They will be marked by various levels of conflict among nations and groups competing for wealth, resources, political authority, sovereignty, and legitimacy. The distinctions between threats will blur for the U.S. These include, for example, the nature of enemies and adversaries, and the multiplicity of actors involved. In addition, friendly and unfriendly actors will attempt to adapt to an ever-changing environment, which may lack a system of governance or rule of law.”

Finally, and most recently (July 2015), the Chief of Staff of the Army’s Strategic Studies Group (SSG) published a draft report that emphasizes the need for the US Army to “embrace complexity” and that this complexity will likely present itself in the guise of a Megacity or a dense urban environment. This report also states that “Landpower is uniquely relevant in Megacities, and the Army must own the megacity and dense urbanization challenge.”

The Challenge

In order to successfully operate in the operating environment as envisioned in the NMS the Functional Concept, and the Chief of Staff’s SSG, it is imperative that commanders understand the environment’s inherent complexity as well as the potential consequences of their decisions. To be successful, it is vital to be able to identify the nodes and links to "influence" in these networks in order to achieve the desired outcome. Additionally, it is imperative to forecast the possible consequences of a decision made in such an environment.  A team at our Center has accepted this challenge and we are currently developing network-based methodologies to assist commanders with decision making in these predicted operational environments.

Why a Network Approach?

The 21st century has ushered in an unprecedented level of complexity in everything from global commerce to human social interaction and data manipulation. What we have learned from such developments is that humans live and work in a world made up of complex adaptive systems, each of which can be represented by various forms of networks.

Behind each complex system there is a network that defines the interaction between the components.  During the past decade some of the most important advances towards understanding complexity have been provided in context of network theory.

In future papers, our team will introduce our quantitative methodology and research advances but, first, we believe that it is important to better understand the concept of Ungoverned Spaces and challenges that they present to military commanders.

Ungoverned Spaces

One of the more haunting and complex security issues is that of “ungoverned spaces”.[i]  This concept has been around for decades under terms like non-state actors, violent non-state actors, and failed states.  After 9-11, there was consensus that ungoverned spaces were a definitive threat to national security.[ii]  There are many different ways to define ungoverned spaces.  One of the more comprehensive ones comes from a 2008 Department of Defense report on the subject.  It defines an “ungoverned area” as:

“A place where the state or the central government is unable or unwilling to extend control, effectively govern, or influence the local population, and where a provincial, local, tribal, or autonomous government does not fully or effectively govern, due to inadequate governance capacity, insufficient political will, gaps in legitimacy, the presence of conflict, or restrictive norms of behavior… the term ‘ungoverned areas’ encompasses under-governed, misgoverned, contested, and exploitable areas as well as ungoverned areas.”[iii]

In an insightful article, Daniel Fisher and Christopher Mercado expand on the definition above to discuss competitive control as way to better evaluate these ungoverned spaces.  They point out the tremendous benefit in looking at how government, criminal organizations, and/or other institutions compete for control of space at any given time.[iv]

Traditionally, the U.S. government has tended to ignore ungoverned spaces because they were not nearly as important as governments, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), corporations and other large entities on the global playing field.  However, four factors are rapidly changing that situation:

  1. Population growth and, especially, urbanization.  In the small towns and villages in which most of humanity lived for most of its modern history, normative “governmental” control was relatively easy – regardless of what diverse form it took.  Everybody pretty much knew what everyone else was doing and with whom.  From 1987 until 2012, global population grew from 5 billion to 7 billion and most of this growth took place in urban settings.  Whereas less than 30 percent of the world's population was urban in 1950, according to UN projections, more than 70 percent will be by 2050.[v]  This is a relatively new phenomenon for the planet (though certain areas of Europe and Asia had these issues well before today).  In the crowded conditions of packed cities, slums and third world shanty towns, individual and group anonymity become much easier (One study calls this factor invisibility).[vi]  Moreover, the accompanying poverty of many of the residents leads to high crime and lack of police and other governmental institutions.  Rio de Janeiro’s favelas are prime examples of these.  Worse still, roughly nine out of ten children under the age of 15 live in developing countries.[vii]  Thus, almost all of the population growth is occurring in the world’s least governed spaces -- a factor that will not change anytime soon.
  1. The second factor is globalization (esp. migration and infrastructure).  Up until the 1980’s, few non-governmental actors disrupted societies outside of their locality.  In contrast, the economic lure of resources to fuel the population boom noted above has led to an interconnected global network of infrastructure.  Rainforests, savannahs and deserts once so remote as to have almost no visitors, now have transportation networks that connect even the most far flung areas of the planet.  Similar to the factor of population discussed above, strange vehicles and people using the infrastructure are so common as to be ignored..  Population can migrate more easily on this infrastructure for economic opportunity.  This and the boom of cellular phone networks mean that non state actors that would have remained local or regional threats can more easily transform into national and trans-national threats.[viii]
  1. The increasing wealth of non-state actors.  Criminal gangs and terrorists are able to use the factors above to obtain drugs, illegally produced or pirated products, weapons and trafficked human beings from remote areas or impoverished slums and sell them in more affluent areas of the globe.  This wealth give these non-state actors more power than they have ever had.  Mexico’s ability to govern itself is severely undermined by narco-terrorist groups that have the ability to pay far more to buy off law enforcement ages, judges, and politicians, than the government can give them in salary.  For example, the Sinaloa drug cartel of Mexico has an estimated 3 billion dollars in annual income just by itself. Wealthy criminal organizations are not new, but the extremely vast scale and reach is. Moreover, the internet and off-shore banking shells provides easy ways to move and conceal this money.[ix]
  1. The most dangerous factor is technology.  Governments have almost always had a monopoly on legitimate power and, in many cases, a step ahead of “the rabble” in technology.  Today’s rapidly changing technology is challenging that fact.  The internet has been around for only about two decades.  In that time, we have transformed from clumsy dial up modems to high speed fiber optics. Cyber cafes can be found all over the world.  That means the non-state actors who fill ungoverned spaces have access to knowledge, technology and weapons like never before.  They have the ability, using the monies discussed above, to purchase or create, however crudely, disruptive technologies.  Cell phones, email and social media allow to them to connect, communicate and execute hostile activity much more efficiently.  Twenty years ago the idea of a terrorist group emerging in a Jakarta slum and executing a catastrophic terrorist attack in Los Angeles would have been considered far-fetched.  Now it falls in the realm of the conceivable.

It is our hypothesis that ungovernable spaces are, in fact, a growing, complex, and poorly understood threat to America’s security. For the reasons discussed above, they are capable of producing small, hard to identify threats that can impact states before they are noticed.  Is this in fact the case?

There is a school of thought that suggests ungoverned spaces are not the threat they “seemed to be”.  A fairly recent article in Foreign Affairs, the Decline and Fall of the Failed State Paradigm, is typical of this school.  It asserts four main reasons that ungoverned spaces are not much of a threat: 1. The threat from weak and fragile states is not as large as we thought it would be.  2.  Lack of definitional rigor to define failed states (ungoverned spaces) and a resultant “one size fits all approach to policy building in this area.  3.  Specified dangers, e.g. terrorism, are not confined to ungoverned spaces.  That is to say terrorists are as likely to be found in Hamburg as Somalia.  4.  Much of the resultant policies to deal with ungoverned spaces (e.g. nation building and counterinsurgency operations) actually drain resources from programs that would actually be more effective in dealing with threats to national security.[x]  Similar arguments are made in an article in the International Journal of Security and Development.[xi] We want to address these critiques in looking at major publications on ungoverned spaces.  

The first is Terrorist and Organized Crime Groups in the Tri-Border Area (TBA) of South America by the Federal Research Division, Library of Congress.  It examines an existing ungoverned space and what has happened in it.  It was one of the first publications looking at ungoverned spaces. The second, The National intelligence Council published Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, looks at long term trends and scenarios that will impact the world.  In this paper, it will be used to assess if, among other things, ungoverned spaces are an increasing threat to the United States. 

Terrorist and Organized Crime Groups in the Tri-Border Area (TBA) of South America was written by the Federal Research Division, Library of Congress in an agreement with the Crime an Narcotics Center, Director of National Intelligence in July 2003.  It was slightly revised in December 2010.  The study is a collation of open source information that examines how this ungoverned space (area gris or gray area from the original Spanish) developed and how it was utilized by non-state actors, in particular Islamic extremists, to achieve their goals.  It also examines how regional security forces (i.e. the state) have attempted to counter these non-state actors.  In other words, the competition for control of the space discussed above.

The TBA is a geographical intersection of two major rivers, Rio Parana, and Rio Iguacu.  Paraguay sits to the west of the Rio Parana. East of the intersection, Argentina is south of the Iguacu and Brazil is to the North.  Three separate cities form the hub of human activity here; Ciudad del Este (Paraguay), Puerto Iguazú (Argentina), and Foz de Iguaçu (Brazil).

The TBA

The region’s most famous landmark is the Igaussu Falls, which straddle border between Brazil and Argentina.  In the early 1970’s, Argentina and Brazil were attempting to make use of the falls and promote trade in remote corners of their states.  Local politicians decided to make rapidly-growing Ciudad del Este a free trade zone to accomplish that, which it did.  It also made a very porous border even looser and, “the TBA soon became a lawless jungle corner…”.[xii]

Ciudad del Este is the capital of Paraguay’s Upper Parana Department and the country’s second largest city with a population of 239,500 in 2003.  Its position on both a critical river junction and the Pan-American Highway makes it an ideal transshipping point.  Its streets and slums teem with many people, indigenous and immigrants, flocking there to make money.  Because of that, the report describes Cuidad del Este as, “an oasis for informants and spies; peddlers of contraband and counterfeit products; traffickers in drugs, weapons, and humans; mafia organizations; and undocumented Islamic terrorists.”  However, despite this chaotic lawlessness, “Ciudad is a world-class center of commerce in terms of cash transactions.  Thanks to the presence of organized crime, the city’s retail economy ranked third worldwide – behind Hong Kong and Miami – in volume of cash transactions”.[xiii]  This money gives these groups tremendous power vis-a-vis state actors in the space.  In fact the TBA is so problematic, it has its own unique place in the State Department’s Annual report on terror.[xiv]

Foz de Iguaçu in Brazil has a population of around 300,000.  Many work in the more economically vibrant Cuidad del Este and return to Foz de Iguaçu to live via the 303-meter-long Friendship Bridge.  The report states, “On normal days, an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 people and 20,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day”. This volume of people crossing back and forth daily makes it very easy for criminals and trafficked goods and people to move easily between the two.  Finally, there is Puerto Iguazú, Argentina.  With a population of approximately 29,000 people it is a very small player in comparison to the other two.  But even it has an average of 4,000 people per day crossing the bridge that connects it with Foz de Iguaçu.[xv]

The TBA had, “a highly heterogeneous population of 700,000”.  In fact, “Foz de Iguaçu’s population includes an estimated 65 different nationalities”.  Cuidad del Este is home to large Lebanese, Chinese and Korean communities, with the Chinese being the largest at 30,000.  The report points out that up to 2/3 of the Chinese community are undocumented.  The estimated Arab population of the TBA ranges from 20,000 to 30,000.  Like many immigrant communities, the Arabs are quite insular; this is why the estimate of the population has a large variance.  In regards to this being an ideal place for illicit groups, the report says, “a few extremists can get together, form a highly secure cell, carry out their mission, and return with alibis backed up by many in the community”.[xvi]

The area also has well developed infrastructure.  Besides the navigable rivers and the Pan-American Highway mentioned above, the TBA has two international airports, Guarani International in Ciudad del Este and Foz de Iguaçu International.  There is also a regional airport in Puerto Iguazú Argentina.  Buses and ferries also convey people back and forth.  Because of the large amount of visitors, there is a very well established system of money exchanges (cambios), both legal and illegal.  There are many local, regional, national and even some international banks that facilitate the transfer of money abroad. For example, The Taiwanese Chinatrust Bank established its only branch in Latin America in Ciudad del Este to deal with the huge amounts of money generated by the Chinese community there, most of that illegal. Just like anywhere else in the world, the TBA has modern internet and cellular communication networks intermingled with the impoverished surroundings.  In fact, Islamic terrorists were reported using PABX telephone systems to avoid being discovered by satellite surveillance.  Another method to avoid surveillance was to use illicit exchanges used by locals to avoid paying higher phone charges.[xvii]

If this area has all of the characteristics of an ungoverned space did it produce non-state actors that became threats?  Yes.  Suspected Hezbollah terrorists used the TBA as a base to carry out two terrorist attacks in Argentina, one against the Israeli Embassy on March 17, 1992; and the second against a Jewish community center on July 18th, 1994.  In addition to Hezbollah, Egypt’s Islamic Group, Islamic Jihad, al Quaeda, Hamas, and the Resistance all had a presence in the TBA.  Moreover, there are many criminal organizations, such as the Lebanese mafia, that likely cooperate with them – especially Hezbollah.  Based upon news sources in the report, al Quaeda was active in the region.  The report also mentions two reports that Osama Bin laden and Kalid Sheikh Mohammed went to Foz de Iguaçu in 1995.  There is a third report that Kalid Sheikh Mohammed returned there in 1998.  While those reports are unverified, it does fit a profile of Al Quaeda expanding their global reach at that time.  It would also indicate that the TBA was a very important center for that group.[xviii]

National police broke up several supposed terror plots to attack Jewish and American diplomatic outposts throughout the Americas in 1999 and 2000.  There were also a significant number of attacks on local politicians and businesses.  One of the more outlandish was the killing of Uruguayan Customs Director Victor Lissidini.  The TBA is one of South America’s biggest vendors of pirated and knock-off merchandise.  CDs and DVDs are one of the more lucrative trades for all the illicit players in the TBA.  In October 2002, Lissidini’s department confiscated several shipments of CDs bound for Ciudad del Este.  He and subordinates received death threats and demands for the release of the shipments before Lissidini was gunned down by four unknown assailants.[xix]   

The TBA didn’t just provide a base for attacks in the Americas.  They provided support for terrorism and crime world-wide.  The report mentioned two staggering separate figures for money laundering alone, 6 and 12 billion dollars per year.  How much went to terrorists?  Between 1999 and 2001, Arab residents of the TBA sent between 50 and 500 million dollars to Hezbollah and Hamas.  A separate investigation of a group of 42 Arabs in Ciudad del Este remitted 50 million dollars to groups in Lebanon between 1997-2001.  That investigation concluded that the money came from arms trafficking and other illicit activities.  In total, it is estimated that Islamic fundamentalist groups in the TBA send between 300-500 million a year to their respective organizations.  That is a huge amount of money for one small corner of the world![xx]

The vast amount of money highlights another problem – corruption.  A Brazilian report published in 2000, accused over 800 important officials of corruption and concluded, “corruption is so widespread, it is impossible to clean it up in the short term without calling in the army and reorganizing the police”.  Foz de Iguaçu in the TBA facilitates this corruption through its extensive money laundering.  Bleak as it is, Brazil is the least corrupt of the three.  Argentina has all the same issues as Brazil.[xxi]  Moreover, it appears that corruption goes all the way up to the president.  It is widely rumored and somewhat substantiated that Syrian-born, former Argentine President Carlos Menem was responsible for covering up the bombing of the Jewish community center discussed above.  Additionally, a prosecutor recently concluded that there was enough evidence to indict Cristina de Kirchner, the current president for a similar cover up.  That prosecutor was likely murdered and the changes subsequently dropped. Worse still, Argentina’s congress just approved a bill to limit the security services surveillance powers.[xxii]  This will make monitoring activity on the TBA even more difficult.    

If one looks at the TBA, it is clear that the four factors made a remote part of the jungle an ideal haven for non-state actors to thrive.  It is also clear that these actors conducted attacks in the region and were attempting to strike across the America’s.  It also clear that they provided financial support to respective groups in the Near East and elsewhere to financed operations there. 

In terms of the critiques, the TBA study is somewhat problematic.  It doesn’t definitively prove that the TBA provided advantages to threats that they couldn’t have found in more governed spaces.  That said, current threats like ISIS and Boko Haram have indeed arisen in ungoverned spaces.[xxiii]  In fact, even the Decline and Fall of the Failed State Paradigm article states, “None of this is meant to suggest that a concern for the problems posed by weak or failing states can or should disappear entirely from the U.S. foreign policy and national security agendas”.[xxiv]  We agree that the critique has a point to make regarding location.  However, the last couple of years have witnessed attacks by Boko Haram, Al Shabbat, ISIS and the Houthi in Yemen.  All came from ungoverned spaces.

In terms of the critique of posing less of a threat to the national security, we think it depends on how one defines threat.  None of the groups above have directly attacked the United States, not do they seem inclined to do so.  However, the damage they are inflicting to the region is affecting US allies.  Moreover, NATO considers these groups to have the potential to be a threat to its members.[xxv] One also needs to remember that instability in the oil rich Middle East is a considerable problem for economies that are dependent upon that resource.  Finally, the TBA study did not directly address the broad definition issue.  The definition, while important, still works effectively in intellectually analyzing the subject.  One last point, the TBA and many other studies clearly indicate how difficult it is to analyze that threat.  One exhaustive study, written by the Combatting Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point, attempts to unravel the complications of the ungoverned space in Yemen through interview and threat analysis.[xxvi]  

If the TBA proved the hypothesis of ungoverned spaces producing unexpected threats, it is legitimate to ask whether or not it is an outlier of an example of a trend.  The next study will be useful in answering that question.   The National intelligence Council published Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, the fifth of a series of installments looking at future trends and scenarios.  It established six key looming challenges.  Those six challenges are:  1. A greater focus on the role of the US in the international system 2. A clearer understanding of the central units in the international system 3. A better grasp of time and speed 4. Greater discussion of crisis and discontinuities 5. Greater attention to ideology 6. More understanding of second- and third-order consequences.[xxvii]

Regarding challenge 2 (units in the international system), the authors particularly saw a need to “delve more into the dynamics of governance and explore the complicated relationships among a diverse set of actors”.  That is a reference to the ungoverned spaces concept.  Also concerning challenge 5, the authors emphasized that grand “isms” like fascism or communism were not likely to be a threat.  However, “smaller political-psycho-social that often don’t go under the umbrella of ideology but drive behavior” should be a focus.  This also reflects the concept of “ungoverned spaces”.  As discussed above, small groups bounded by a common framework (gangs, drug cartels, environmental activists etc…) have the ability to form and plan in secret and emerge as a threat before we recognize it.[xxviii]  ISIS is a perfect example of this.  The United States could see ISIS emerging as a threat but it grew and morphed much more rapidly than security analysts could have anticipated (better grasp of time and speed also one of the six above).  How?  ISIS adroitly used technology to spread its particular ideology to bolster recruiting, fund-raising and obtaining weapons.  They used a space with little to no conventional governmental control, but still had infrastructure to quickly move and hit targets in Syria and Iraq.

The study goes on to identify four major megatrends that will shape the next 30 years, individual empowerment, diffusion of power, demographic patterns, and growing food, water and energy nexus.  If these four look familiar, they should.  They are closely aligned to the four factors discussed above that make “ungoverned spaces” an emerging threat.   For example, on individual empowerment, the report states, “Individual empowerment will accelerate substantially over the next 15-20 years owing to poverty reduction and a huge growth of the global middle class, greater educational attainment, and better health care”.  This is precisely what is currently fueling and will increasingly fuel the wealth of non-state actors discussed above – especially those monies that fuel illicit activity like in the TBA.  The report goes on to say, “Individual empowerment is the most important megatrend because it is both a cause and effect of most other trends”.  Moreover, “in a tectonic shift, individuals and small groups will have greater access to lethal and disruptive technologies (particularly precision-strike capabilities, cyber instruments and bio terror weaponry), enabling them to perpetrate large-scale violence – a capability formerly the monopoly of states”.[xxix]  It is this last sentence that highly-illuminates the critical threat posed by ungoverned spaces.  Security analyst and planners are used to working in world of state and major non-state actors that are well understood and visible – not the world described above.  In fact, the internet itself may well prove to be an ungoverned space.[xxx]

Megatrend two, diffusion of power, also supports the hypothesis above.  The increasing wealth of individuals above will mean that many countries not associated with wealth and power will join that club, even as traditional powers like Europe, Russia, and Japan slowly diminish. We can already see that happening with countries like Brazil and Ethiopia whose economies are growing very rapidly.  Instead of having a handful or a dozen major players, the world may have forty of fifty more equal players.  Of a greater concern is a shift in the nature of state power as we know it today, “Enabled by communication technologies, power will shift toward multi-faceted and amorphous networks that will form to influence state and global actions.  Those countries with some of the strongest fundamentals – GDP, population size, etc… -- will not be able to punch their weight unless they also learn to operate in networks and coalitions in a multi-polar world”.[xxxi]  In other words, the traditional factors or power we now look at to assess both state and non-state actors will be relatively less important

Megatrend three, demographic patterns, directly support the hypothesis as has been discussed above.  The study does point out the four greatest major demographic impacts; aging, shrinking but still important youthful populations, migration, and urbanization.  Urbanization and the crucial aspect of young populations concentrated in lesser-governed spaces have been discussed above.  The study further elucidates how some countries, e.g. Japan and some European states, have aging populations.[xxxii]  To maintain economic viability, aging nations will have will be forced to import labor.  This process already occurs, of course, but will increase in size and scope.  This future migration will almost surely bring the same assimilation issues we see today.  The assimilation issues get directly at another aspect of ungoverned spaces.  Poorly assimilated immigrant communities are a prime source of manpower for non-state actors that compete for power, be they Guatemalan narco-gangs or Islamic terrorist groups.

Megatrend four, growing food, water and energy nexus, is related to the phenomenon of globalization discussed above.  Population growth increases demand for food water and energy, which in turn increases infrastructure to exploit and transport those resources as discussed above.  The report states, “Demand for food, energy, and water will grow by approximately 35, 50 and 50 percent respectively” because of the demographic and economic changes outlined above.  The report points out how these three are interrelated and disruptions or improvements in one resource affect the others.[xxxiii]  States may have to adopt more cooperative strategies for water (e.g. many rivers flow through more than one state).  Non-state actors may also have impacts on this.  A well-known negative example of this is conflict diamonds.  Rebels in Sierra Leone used diamonds from areas they controlled to bankroll their resistance.[xxxiv]

After examining the available literature, it is appears quite clear that ungoverned spaces are a threat to the United States.  They also show that they are likely to be an even bigger potential threat in the future.  It has also demonstrated the rich complexities of these spaces.  This paper is not a definitive look at all aspects of ungoverned spaces. It is, however, a good starting point for future research.  It also proves the need for more robust tools, like a network science approach, to monitor, assess, and analyze these ungoverned spaces.

End Notes  

[i] http://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations/u-s-aims-root-out-ungoverned-...

[ii] Michael J. Mazarr, “The Rise and Fall of the Failed-State Paradigm: Requiem for a Decade of Distraction,” Foreign Affairs 93, no. 1 (January/February 2014): 113–21

[iii] Lamb, Robert D. (2008) “Ungoverned Areas and Threats from Safe Havens – Final Report of the Ungoverned Areas Project.” Prepared for the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy by the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning.

[iv] Daniel Fisher and Christopher Mercado, “Competitive Control”: How to Evaluate the Threats Posed by “Ungoverned Spaces”

[v] Jack A Goldstone, “The New Population Bomb”,  Foreign Affairs JAN/FEB 2010

[vi] Rabassa, Angel et al. (2007) “Ungoverned Territories: Understanding and Reducing Terrorism Risks.” Project Air Force. RAND Corporation.

[vii] Jack A Goldstone, “The New Population Bomb”,  Foreign Affairs JAN/FEB 2010

[viii] Rabassa, Angel et al. (2007) “Ungoverned Territories: Understanding and Reducing Terrorism Risks.” Project Air Force. RAND Corporation.

[ix] Keene, S. (2012). Threat Finance: Disconnecting the Lifeline of Organised Crime and Terrorism. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

[x] Michael J. Mazarr, “The Rise and Fall of the Failed-State Paradigm: Requiem for a Decade of Distraction,” Foreign Affairs 93, no. 1 (January/February 2014): 113–21

[xi] Raleigh, C and Dowd, C 2013. Governance and Conflict in the Sahel’s ‘Ungoverned Space’.Stability: International Journal of Security and Development 2(2):32, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/sta.bs

[xii] Rex Hudson (2003) Terrorist and Organized Crime Groups in the Tri-Border Area (TBA) of South America by the Federal Research Division, Library of Congress

[xiii] ibid

[xiv] http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/45322.pdf

[xv] Rex Hudson (2003) Terrorist and Organized Crime Groups in the Tri-Border Area (TBA) of South America by the Federal Research Division, Library of Congress

[xvi] ibid

[xvii] ibid

[xviii] ibid

[xix] ibid

[xx] ibid

[xxi] ibid

[xxii] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/27/world/americas/argentine-judge-rejects...

[xxiii] http://www.ata-sec.org/index.php/publications/atlantic-voices/38-ungoverned-spaces-the-threat-that-draws-us-in/file, http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2015/3/africas-extremist-groups-ex...

[xxiv] Michael J. Mazarr, “The Rise and Fall of the Failed-State Paradigm: Requiem for a Decade of Distraction,” Foreign Affairs 93, no. 1 (January/February 2014): 113–21

[xxv] http://www.ata-sec.org/index.php/publications/atlantic-voices/38-ungover...

[xxvi] https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/a-false-foundation-aqap-tribes-and-ungove...

[xxvii] Mathew Burrows et. al. (2012) Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, National Intelligence Counsel

[xxviii] ibid

[xxix] ibid

[xxx] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/11214596/Internet-i...

[xxxi] ibid

[xxxii] ibid

[xxxiii] ibid

[xxxiv] http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/26/world/africa/blood-diamonds/

 

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Comments

Interesting and well-cited article. I would be interested in hearing the authors' thoughts on the Internet itself as an ungoverned space. You've noted technology and the rapid pace of development of same as a key factor in the increased importance of ungoverned spaces, but I might argue that those same 4 key factors can also be applied to the Internet, and perhaps especially to the Dark Web.

Thanks for the feedback-much appreciated!

Good, interesting article, but I don’t think you are going to get where you want to go via ungoverned space analysis, or at least won’t get there efficiently. Maybe try concentrating on ‘impunity’ as the quantity you want to control, with ‘anonymity’ being an intermediate quantity to be controlled. ‘Sanctuary’ takes on meaning as the geography of impunity, and within that understanding, cost and risk distance become more and more salient as a focal themes for the understanding of relative strengths and the possibilities for change. Consider again the doctrinal definition of ungoverned space that you cite from Army doctrine. To me, that definition is both revealing and debilitating. It says on its face that ungoverned space is a result of incapacity, lack of will or corruption on the part of some existing government. Doesn’t that suggest loudly that the problem lies as much in the existing government as with the ‘space’? The TBA is a neat example, but if you ask me, it’s a space that is as governed as folk with power want it to be. In a way it’s not ‘ungoverned’ at all, it’s just the geography of a set of impunities for perpetrations that we might wish were not happening, but at the same time don’t really even know whose perpetrations and whose impunities we’re dealing with. You make this evident in your text. The Argentine government? The Paraguayans’? Brazil? Maybe if the TBA is ‘ungoverned space’, it’s thus exactly to the extent that MERCOSUR is badly governed space.

I do wonder why such an analysis does not look at the potential for 'ungoverned spaces' nearer to home.

Perhaps the example chosen, the Triborder area, is far enough away. What about the Caribbean islands that for many reasons handle far more cash than the TBA? Yes, some of them ostensibly British governed.

There is a far wider problem that the power of the nation-state appears to be in decline. Cash movements is just one significant aspect.