The increased ability of clandestine groups to operate with
little regard for borders or geography is often taken to be one of
the dark consequences of a brave new globalized world. Yet even for
terrorists and smugglers, the world is not flat; states exert
formidable control over the technologies of globalization, and
difficult terrain poses many of the same problems today as it has
throughout human history.
In No Man's Land, Justin V. Hastings examines the
complex relationship that illicit groups have with modern
technology-and how and when geography still matters. Based on often
difficult fieldwork in Southeast Asia, Hastings traces the
logistics networks, command and control structures, and training
programs of three distinct clandestine organizations: the terrorist
group Jemaah Islamiyah, the insurgent Free Aceh Movement, and
organized criminals in the form of smugglers and maritime pirates.
Hastings also compares the experiences of these groups to others
outside Southeast Asia, including al-Qaeda, the Tamil Tigers, and
the Somali pirates.
Through reportage, memoirs, government archives, interrogation
documents, and interviews with people on both sides of the law, he
finds that despite their differences, these organizations are
constrained and shaped by territory and technology in similar ways.
In remote or hostile environments, where access to the
infrastructure of globalization is limited, clandestine groups must
set up their own costly alternatives. Even when successful,
Hastings concludes, criminal, insurgent and terrorist organizations
are not nearly as mobile as pessimistic views of the sinister side
of globalization might suggest.
Subjects: Political Science
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