Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Globalization of Crime

Trafficking operations are complicated"The Question" in Detective Comics #859 by Greg Rucka and Cully Hamner

Renee Montoya, aka The Question, is on a mission to root out a network of human traffickers coming through Gotham City. The problem, as she's starting to see, is that the network is much more complicated than she expected. In fact, the trafficking operations seems to take place all over the world and involve many different agents.

Many refer to this phenomenon as "The Globalization of Crime." Globalization, basically the process by which national economies become integrated into a global economy through various mechanisms--trade, foreign direct investment, spread of technology, etc.--brings about several benefits. Supporters of free trade, for instance, argue that globalization heralds economic prosperity, especially for developing nations. Such economies would realize the benefits of trade, the free and unfettered flow of information, and might even see improvements in civil liberties.

Others argue, however, that the minimization of trade restrictions actually brings about other problems. For example, it might make the transportation of illicit goods across national borders that much easier. According to the UN Office of Drugs and Crime, the production and spread of synthetic drugs has been rising rapidly for years and, as of October 2009, income from the drug trade has hit $320 billion.

Here is one author talking about the connection to globalization:

International organized crime has globalized its activities for the same reasons as legitimate multinational corporations. Just as multinational corporations establish branches around the world to take advantage of attractive labor or raw material markets, so do illicit businesses. Furthermore, international businesses, both legitimate and illicit, also establish facilities worldwide for production, marketing, and distribution needs. Illicit enterprises are able to expand geographically to take advantage of these new economic circumstances thanks to the communications and international transportation revolution.

[...]

Globalization is coupled with an ideology of free markets and free trade and a decline in state intervention. According to globalization advocates, reducing international regulations and barriers to trade and investment will increase trade and development. But these very conditions that promote a globalized environment are crucial to the expansion of crime. Crime groups and terrorists have exploited the enormous decline in regulations, the lessened border controls, and the resultant greater freedom, to expand their activities across borders and to new regions of the world. These contacts have become more frequent, and the speed at which they occur has accelerated. Whereas the growth of legal trade is regulated by adherence to border control policies, customs officials, and bureaucratic systems, transnational crime groups freely exploit the loopholes of state-based legal systems to extend their reach.

The ease with which these criminals dodge regulations is actually even mentioned in the comic. See?

The greasing of palms
So what can be done about this? The article mentions that we need "greater international cooperation, more harmonized legislation and increased sharing of intelligence." The UN argues that we should focus on promoting health, justice and security across the world to mitigate the regional economic conditions that might foster drug and human trafficking.

This all sounds very complicated. Too bad the real world doesn't have a global network of bat-related crime fighters (or Liam Neeson)!

I have a very particular set of skills.  Skills I have acquired over a very long career.  Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.

18 comments:

Saffe said...

while I understand free trade makes it easier for crime to spread, more regulations gotta be better for profits, right?

colsmi said...

On reflection, Kirby's "Omac" was all about this. The criminal super-rich have the world at their mercy. The Global Peace Agency is attempting to fight them, but the rich's power is such that the GPA agents must always stay masked. Underneath the Kirbymania, it's a scary story. Kirby seems to feel it would take a war on the criminal capitalist class by a god-like superhero to even begin to curb the rich. OMAC's world is one in which global criminals have become the ruling elite. Anyone who's read Glenny's "McMafia" on international crime might end up hoping "the world that's coming" has an OMAC in it.

In the DC Universe, a reconstituted Global Guardians, under international - UN? - control, following international law, would be a perfect group to lead the fight on criminal MNC activity. Checkmate could function as the intelligence arm of the mission. But that'd mean Govts would have to work together, and their peoples would have to make sacrifices to fund & support the war on crime. And in the real world and the super-hero universes, I don't think people want to do that. They don't realise that international crime effectively governs huge areas of their lives already. They don't grasp the cost of global crime, so the opportunity cost of fighting it will seem far too politically & economically intimidating.

Bruce Wayne will need to fund teams and teams of Outsiders then. It’ll be down to one legitimate, super-rich businessman in a bat-suit to turn the battle. Because while the UN suggestions listed in your article are sensible, the only way a war on crime can be undertaken is to actually have a war.

ShadowBanker said...

Saffe - For crime profits?

Colsmi - I've never actually read "Omac," but looks like I should. Your arguments are, of course, sensible. Just a quick thought: I remember reading a study on the (negative) impact of global crime on regional economies in which many of these criminals are recruited. So there's that too!

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While the issue explores more of Kate’s past and how her relationships with everyone from her father to Renee Montoya begin to fall apart, the best moment of the issue is when Kate discovers her calling in the form of a lending hand from Batman. Those final three panels are awe inspiring, and trigger the moment when Kate finally finds purpose.

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