Security of the Western Hemisphere: International Terrorism and Organized Crime

By Manwaring, Max G. | Strategic Forum, April 1998 | Go to article overview

Security of the Western Hemisphere: International Terrorism and Organized Crime


Manwaring, Max G., Strategic Forum


Conclusions

* International terrorism and organized crime (ITOC), are engaged in what the Organization of American States (OAS) has recently defined as "grave common crime."

* ITOC are powerful enough to destabilize, challenge, and destroy targeted societies and states. The increasing influence and power of ITOC are generating transnational threats.

* The threat posed by ITOC is too great and too complex for civilian institutions to confront by themselves. The military could and should assist in internal protection missions if its operational role is carefully limited by a legal democratic regime.

* Today's security requirements call for a coordinated and cooperative application not only of all national civilian and military resources but also those of a variety of international and functional organizations.

* Because success against ITOC requires close unilateral and multilateral coordination, the responsibility should devolve to the OAS.

The Issues

Despite the obvious differences between the organizations, tactics, motives, and objectives of the various elements that constitute international terrorism and organized crime (ITOC), all have one thing in common--they are engaged in what the Organiza-tion of American States (OAS) has recently defined as "grave common crime." This situation is more than a complex law enforcement problem. It requires broadening the concept of national security from the traditional notion of unilateral territorial protection to a nontraditional concept of unilateral and multilateral protection of peoples and governments.

ITOC are powerful enough to destabilize, challenge, and destroy targeted societies and states. The continued growth and the increasing influence and power of ITOC are generating transnational threats. Nations (acting by themselves) are incapable of combating this phenomenon. Today's security requirements call for a coordinated and cooperative application of all national civilian and military resources in full harmony with those of a variety of international and functional organizations. National and international political rivalries can no longer be permitted to inhibit the pursuit and prosecution of the perpetrators of grave common crime.

Because success against ITOC requires close unilateral and multilateral coordination and cooperation for an effective unity of effort, the only viable approach to the transnational threat to hemispheric stability and security is to devolve the responsibility to the OAS. That organization provides a moral position and structural framework to which member states can devolve the responsibility for the promulgation of binding international agreements directed against grave common crime; the development of an integrated multilateral anti-ITOC action plan; the planning and implementation of a coordinated and legitimized policy; and the establishment of a supportive security regime designed to maximize advantage and to compete effectively against ITOC.

There is a certain reluctance to take the broadened definition of national security to its logical conclusion and correspondingly broaden the role of the military to a controversial internal protection mission. The threat posed by ITOC, however, is too great and too complex for civilian institutions to confront by themselves. The military could and should assist in internal protection missions if it is properly trained and its operational role carefully limited by a legal democratic regime. In the Western Hemisphere, the OAS and its various parts--including the Inter-American Defense Board and the Inter-American Defense College--provide a multilateral, legal, and democratic institutional infrastructure that can evolve to help meet the challenges of contemporary security and stability problems.

Assessing the Threat

The problems imposed by ITOC are indeed legitimate national and international security treats. …

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