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Violent Non-State Actors Essay

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Updated: May 18th, 2019

Admittedly, the major reason for the development of violent non-state agents (VNSA) is weakening of state power (Singer 2001-2002). These agents can operate on territories which are not controlled by a state. Therefore, the term “non-state” can become inappropriate since VNSA operate on areas where state is not represented by any force.

However, nowadays many states (and the United States is among them) have to face the necessity to resist VNSAs. The development of technology and globalization contributed greatly to the spread of VNSAs. There are many types of such agents, and some of them have gained considerable power nowadays.

Williams points out several major types of VNSAs which can be dangerous for the state power. Thus, the first type of VNSAs to be considered is warlords, charismatic leaders who usually have military background, and who oppose some policies of a state (Williams 2008, 9-15). Another type of VNSA is militia, a military formation which operates in a state where state power is weak.

Another type of VNSA singled out by Williams is paramilitary force. These forces usually originate from state military formations or even established by the government.

In this way, some states try to acquire cheaper military force. It is necessary to note that the existence of this type of VNSA also raises a question about the appropriateness of the term “non-state” since the state forms the violent agent, apart from (or even instead) of conventional state military force. Another type of VNSA is insurgencies, military formations which try to overthrow the government.

Terrorist organizations are now the VNSAs which attract much attention at present. These agents are usually a threat for countries where state power is properly established, e.g. the USA.

Finally, one more type of VNSAs, which are dangerous for a weaken state, are criminal organizations and youth gangs. Of course, these VNSAs jeopardized order in any country (on every level), but if the state power is well established such agents are usually neutralized.

As has been mentioned earlier globalization, technology development and media are playing crucial role in VNSAs empowering. Thus, Kramer et al. claim that the development of electronics and information systems has put the problem of VNSAs on global scale (Kramer et al. 2009, 4).

At present such agents can easily interact with other agents: buy and sell armament, join military groups in different countries, provide technological, financial and other help to each other in order to reach certain aims (Singer 2001-2002). Basically, VNSAs have entered global market place which enables them to compete more successfully with state power.

As far as empowerment of VNSAs, especially when it deals with terroristic groups, it is necessary to emphasize that media “play an integral part” in the process (Zanini and Edwards 2001, 42). For instance, terroristic acts are aimed at attracting attention and news media help them to achieve their goals in quite an easy way.

In fact, the power of media is already acknowledged by VNSAs and many such groups have their own radio stations and television.

Thus, nowadays the struggle between states and VNSAs has shifted on another level. First, governments invest into the development of technology and information system to defeat VNSAs. This enables states to prevent violent acts, rather than try to overcome their aftermaths.

Admittedly, preventive tactics is very successful, though not all acts can be prevented nowadays (Jenkins 2010, 13). However, the development of technology and enactment of new more effective legislation can become a good background for successful struggle against VNSAs.

Reference List

Jenkins, Brian Michael. 2010. Would-Be Warriors: Incidents of Jihadist Terrorist Radicalization in the United States since September 11, 2001. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation.

Kramer, Franklin D., Stuart H. Starr, and Larry K. Wentz, Eds. 2009. Cyberpower and National Security. Washington, DC: National Defense University Press.

Singer, Peter W. 2001-2002. “Corporate Warriors: The Rise and Ramifications of the Privatized Military Industry”. Brookings. .

Williams, Phil. 2008. Violent Non-State Actors and National and International Security. International Relations and Security Network (ISN). Zurich: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

Zanini, Michelle, and Sean J.A. Edwards. 2001. “The Networking of Terror in the Information Age.” In Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime and Militancy, ed. Jon Arquilla and David Ronfeldt, 29-60. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation.

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