Yesterday was able to participate in The Brookings Seminar on Reconstituting Local Orders, a series of roundtable discussions led by Brookings Senior Fellows Vanda Felbab-Brown, Shadi Hamid, and Harold Trinkunas, where we are exploring the collapse and construction of local political orders and their international consequences.
The session, was called “Rule on the Mean Streets and in the Mean Prisons: Slums, Gangs, and Cartels,” Frank Mora, Director of the Latin America and Caribbean Center and Professor of Politics and International Relations at Florida International University, and Desmond Arias, Associate Professor of Public Policy in the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs at George Mason University, will both discuss how armed non-state actors influence local governance in the Americas and policy prescriptions to guide state and international responses; and Benjamin Lessing, Assistant Professor within the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago, will present insights from his fieldwork on prisons and gangs in Central America. The Seminar motivated by a conviction that the present disorder in the international system is greatly augmented by the breakdown of domestic order across a number of key states. Around the globe, the politics of identity, ideology, and religion are producing highly polarized societies and deepening conflicts between non-state actors and the state. In the Middle East, the Arab Spring disrupted long calcified political systems in ways that are still generating unpredictable effects on the regional order. Russia’s annexation of Crimea was facilitated by a breakdown of political order in Ukraine, and Russia’s aggressive external posture also partially reflects and compensates for its internal weaknesses. Even rising powers such as India and Brazil face profound and persistent governance problems, including public safety and rule of law.
Closer to home there was a broad discussion on the typology of gangs and policy implications that range from; confrontation, accommodation to mediation.