Traditional security approach to Organized Crime
Organized Crime and globalization are considered as less important issues; the role of the non-state actors is being overlooked. The traditional security approach is primarily the realist view. Focusing on statism meaning the state is the only referent of security and state sovereignty is the core issue.
As for the international system, it is an anarchy world were the state as the only act should pursue its own security and prevent external military threats through self-help. Survival is the primary objective of national security and the major means is to build military might and to achieve a balance of power. Regarding globalization, realists claim that globalization is only a fact that poses new challenges to state but there is no non-state actor who can be equal in capacity to state.
Under this traditional state-centric security standpoint, Organized Crime does not appear to pose a threat or challenge to the International System composed by states. Organized Crime is considered to be a marginal threat given that they are not legitimate and are excluded from the International Security discussion. Therefore, they can be presented as endorsing the basic principles of a traditional state-centric system.
Neo-liberal Institutionalism approach to Organized Crime
Neo-liberal institutionalism as one of the main critique of neo-realist expanded the scope of International Security, recognizing non-state actors can be a player in the International System, emphasizing states’ mutual interests and cooperation through international institutions and regimes and democratic peace, drawing attention on the economic aspects of globalization.
Neoliberals even offer a mixed-actor model a theory based on spillover effects which are to bring global governance through norms, rules, processes, and institutions. However, Organized Crime is still considered as an insignificant security threat and does not pose a challenge to state sovereignty. Therefore, Organized Crime is often being treated as a domestic issue and there is no much room for discussion under the traditional security approach
Non-traditional Security Approach to Organized Crime
With the dramatic change of the international system, ie politically, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and economically and socially, the accelerating process of globalization, the International Security thinking finally has also altered. As a result, Non-Traditional Security became a major concern among states.
As we have stated, Non-Traditional Security is more related to the social constructivist approach where non-state actors and societies can be referent objects. Likewise, an external military threat is no longer the major threat to national security. Other Non-Traditional Security challenges have also incorporated into the category of national security. Other nontraditional securities have also incorporated into the category of national and international security.
a) In the political field:
– it affects state sovereignty by “creating parallel routes of goods distribution, aiming at violating national frontiers”. Susan Strange argues that the current international system suffers crucial transformations that lead to an excess of power in world politics in favor of the non-state actors that have the tendency to govern the world. As Strange argues, against this background, states lose their power (which is to be understood in terms of the distribution of capabilities) in favor of markets, sometimes illegal ones.
Strange also points out that criminal groups challenge the power and the sovereignty of the states. The result is a kind of “existential symbiosis between the state and the non-state criminal groups” and governments get accustomed to the eroding of the political framework, accepting the cohabitation with criminal groups.
Thus, organized crime transforms itself, from an amount of illegal criminal economic activities in semi-legal enterprises with different covers, frequently supported by governmental or local officials. In other words, between organized crime, legal business, and state authorities mutual relationships are established.
National Security Strategy
According to National Security Strategy, the rapid pace of change provided new possibilities for individuals and governments to get involved into illegal activities that “creates shared vulnerabilities, as interconnected systems and sectors are susceptible to the threat of transnational crime:
– it intervenes in the democratic process, fueling the idea that the political life is governed rather by money than rules and principles; sometimes, organized criminal groups seek to replace genuine political representation providing their own candidates and electors.
Criminal organizations can take part (illegally) in the development of the political process penetrating the executive and legislative structures by corruption and blackmail, weakening thus their legitimacy. The final effect can be the destruction of political institutions and of the governing system;
– organized crime can bring serious prejudices to the affected societies when it interferes with the values and norms that contribute to citizens’ understanding of political activity. By distorting the line that cuts off the legal sphere from the illegal one, organized crime changes the perceptions and the understanding of the public opinion, generating alternative loyalties to state institutions, with negative effects upon the overall way society functions.
– it has an impact on political institution functions through the influence it can exercise on the executive, legislative and juridical decision making-factors. Its influence upon these fundamental links of the states provide criminal organized groups two important advantages: on the one hand, these tend to create their own system outside state justice, and on the other hand, it tries to use state infrastructure and institutions for their own benefits;
– the criminal groups can resort to manipulating the electoral process, providing their own candidates, to whom they provide large amounts of money and compromising information on their political enemies. Even when they support the candidate required by the public, they make it in exchange for the help given by that candidate furthermore (after he is elected).
The economic power of criminal organized groups, that gradually becomes also political power, extends so much that they can sometimes subordinate the political parties or can create their own political parties in order to obtain an increased degree of influence over the political decisions in a state. When the result of the political elections is uncertain, as it happened in many countries in the last years, even the control exercised over a small party can be effective in the play of the political alliances and can have profound social consequences over citizens’ life;
– when they get involved in mass-media, organized criminal groups can manipulate and even instigate the populations (by selecting the disseminated information flow), hijacking its attention from the real problems in society;
– criminal groups can use intimidation and blackmail in order to eliminate those that oppose to the promotion of the illegitimate interests (be they state officials, union leaders, etc.);
– when it infiltrates state institutions, organized crime can block the implementation of public policies, by intimidation, corruption, and blackmail.