NDU Press; bookstore.gpo.gov; 304 pages; $27.
Some serious books are written to be studied. Transnational organized crime is an important issue, and Convergence: Illicit Networks and National Security in the Age of Globalization is such a serious book. The book is a collection of fourteen papers that are grouped into four topical sections (A Clear and Present Danger, Complex Illicit Operations, The Attack on Sovereignty, and Fighting Back). The book is the work of the Center for Complex Operations within The Institute for National Strategic Studies at The National Defense University. The contributors include attorneys, senior government officials, accomplished academics and experienced practitioners.
Many aspects of the nature, rise, and impact of transnational illicit networks are explored. The current problem of networked transnational organized crime and the continued threat it poses to global stability are carefully outlined. Several devilishly intricate and illicit networks are detailed, from money laundering in real estate transactions to human trafficking. While the depth of the problem may startle those readers who are unfamiliar with these illicit networks, all rational hope is not lost. For the authors propose that the best way to battle an illicit network is with a network.
To build a network to displace and defeat these illicit networks, much better intelligence must be available to map accurately illicit networks’ staffing, operations, logistics, and finances. The nucleus for such a legitimate counter network can be found within this book. State Department official David Luna notes that it is critical that “…the international community must work together in a coordinated manner to stanch the flow and dismantle criminal opportunity structure at every node, pipeline and channel across the global illicit landscape.” Critical elements of a collaborative model to battle these illicit networks will include the diplomatic, development, intelligence, military, and law enforcement resources of national power.
This is a challenging read but one that informs the reader as to the serious threat that networked transnational organized crime poses to global order, regional security, and stability. In sum, the authors provide the reader with a peek behind the curtain and detail both the serious security concerns of today and the credible solutions available to counter this continuing threat to progress.
Reviewer: Thomas E. Engells, CPP, CPM is the chief of police at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. He is a member of ASIS International.