The Evolution of Armed Groups
13 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 5 Oct 2009
Date Written: 2009
Armed groups have long posed an existential threat to the state. Whether we call them non-state actors, armed political action groups (APAGs) or simply armed groups, these entities operate outside the sovereign state’s monopoly on coercive force to achieve political goals in opposition to the state. Until fairly recently, armed groups lacked any true international capacity. The armed groups most relevant to the state were ones operating within its borders - be they those using psychological pressure to achieve a political goal (terrorists), furthering a criminal enterprise (organized crime), attempting to change the regime (insurgents) or simply resisting the will of the state through tribal or ethnic affiliation (militias). The goals of these groups, however, were usually domestically situated. We did not need the events of 9/11 to demonstrate that armed political action groups had an international agenda. The inherent international dimension to the drug trade connected local organized crime into international syndicates. Transnational links between terrorist groups began to become more apparent since the days of the ideologically motivated terrorists of the 1970s. Common ethnic lines of militias in different states have emerged and rare is the case that an insurgency does not have international support from either a state or a group outside the state. Armed groups are a de facto international actor.
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