Oct. 25, 2016
1. The Global Crisis of Governance
The world has entered a period of kaleidoscopic, irregular conflicts in which the reassertion of traditional geopolitical rivalries is inextricably linked with the activities of a bewildering assortment of violent nonstate actors (VNSAs). States in the Middle East, for example, increasingly define national interests in terms of sectarianism; however, the civil war in Islam is being played out not only in the direct, competitive dynamic of Saudi Arabia and Iran, but also through the proxies these two states use, including sectarian factions, tribes, warlords, insurgents, and transnational criminal organizations (TCOs). These VNSAs pursue their own agendas, yet interact and ally with states when it is convenient and advantageous to do so. They might, on occasion, act as state proxies; but, they are not pawns. On the contrary, they generate their own conflict dynamics and follow strategic imperatives that sometimes complement the actions of their state allies, but, on other occasions, can equally well confound them.