When you throw a stone in a pond, the entire ecosystem gives a start, and defends itself from any possible danger, just pausing to decide what moves it needs to take. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the whole ecosystem of international relations was uncertain what the future held, and simply reacted to individual episodes that required short-term responses. Then, with the passage of time, the inhabitants of the pond world slowly resumed their everyday activities, re-engaging in a scenario which was, however, already greatly changed.
Globalization has weakened those nation states created by the Peace of Westphalia in 1618, setting loose subversive forces such as organized crime, terrorism and insurgency.
The weakening of these nations clearly has a variety of causes, related to the specific features of each individual context. Western democracies are afflicted as well as North African and Latin American nations, the authoritarian states of the Caucasus and those of the Indian continent. The result, however, is similar in all these different cases: a strengthening of the relationships between crime, terrorism and insurgency.
Meanwhile something else has happened. First of all, we need to clarify certain facts: that the Cold War never really ended, a situation evident even to the least attentive; that the Pacific is back at the centre of international geopolitical interests; that the Muslim world is still in the grip of civil strife; that the world economy is suffering a systemic crisis; that the north-south divide and inequality between social classes is becoming ever more pronounced, and, finally, that there are now many more geopolitical players able to influence international politics.
The waves caused by the stone thrown in the pond (with the end of domination by the two superpowers, the USA and USSR) have now dispersed, and the inhabitants of the pond have returned to living dangerously.
In this general context, the dark relationship which links the interests of organised crime interests to those of terrorism and the increasing incidences of insurgency, has acquired an intrinsic geopolitical importance and strength.
Therefore, it is now essential to talk of terrorism and insurgency by recognizing the profound influence that organized crime has on these phenomena, in its local, international and transnational versions.
A study of these various players (considered individually but also in terms of their interconnections) is crucial to understanding their deeper nature, predicting their evolution and determining effective policies to oppose them.
When a state does not exercise control over its own territory, it is logical that the resulting power vacuum will be filled immediately by local communities, which will supersede it and exercise its prerogatives, controlling both legal and criminal activities. This regulatory activity is only possible if the parties come to terms: with politics, economics and local crime forming relationships based on their common interest in local power management. When this phenomenon arises in the West, it takes the form of the well-known Mafia system; when it materialize in countries with weak governments, it increasingly gives rise to the phenomena of terrorism and insurgency.
In the final analysis, it is no longer credible to talk about geopolitics without also acknowledging the relationship between terrorism, crime, and corruption.