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Thread: McMafia

  1. #1
    Thailand Expat

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    Heard an interview with the author on the radio; looks like good read!
    McMafia: Crime without frontiers, By Misha Glenny

    Gangsters, profiteers, poisoners and pimps are ripping through global society. A grim new study concludes that peace brings crime to nations

    Sunday, 6 April 2008

    In James Morton's enthralling work, Gangland International, published in 1998, the author observed that "crime, along with football, boxing and bullfighting, has always been a traditional way out of the gutter." The notorious East London gangsters, the Kray twins, for example, chose boxing, which they then embellished with knuckle-dusters, followed by knives, guns and much self-preening. But all they ever achieved was an enlargement of their gutter, which is where they remained until incarceration and death.

    One reason was their narrow horizons; another, a lack of opportunity to spin their web beyond the British capital. They were, as I suspected in my journalistic encounters with them more than 40 years ago, born losers – unlike today's international outlaws.

    When Morton's book came out, Communism was only 10 years dead, and we had yet to take full measure of the mighty upsurge in international crime promoted by both the demise of the Marxist dream and another, equally dramatic phenomenon: globalisation. Acknowledging that the drug trade, above all, was causing the internationalisation of crime, Morton wrote presciently about "the so-called new kids on the block", among them Chinese, Colombians, Russians, Mexicans, who would become much more dangerous should they acquire the kind of overall "national structure" enjoyed by the Mafia in its heyday.

    Misha Glenny leaves us with little doubt that such national structures are now in place, interlock and prevail globally. Try multiplying the former American and Sicilian mafia organisations a thousand times over and you may get some idea of the modern underworld's pervasiveness, due partly to the emergence, Glenny says, of a new type of country around the world, "the failing state". Should we be surprised?

    Communism grafted upon its captive populations a high social consciousness by means of persistent, directional propaganda. The objective was to teach individual man that he must use his individuality for the benefit of the masses, the welfare of which replaced god and heaven. In other words, to its adherents, Soviet Communism could be seen as something of a mystical religion.

    With its collapse came not merely disenchantment, but a realisation that individual man must, after all, use his individuality for the benefit of himself or (same thing) his cartel. Should that have dire consequences for the masses, then so be it. Thus, today we bear witness to what might be called a So-be-it Union of gangsters, profiteers, poisoners and pimps ripping through global society with the ferocity of a tiger on its prey.

    Their power and occasional resemblance to (or even consanguinity with) some western capitalists have left old international institutions "bewildered", Glenny says of Eastern European crime syndicates. "These men (and occasionally women) understood instinctively that rising living standards in the West, increased trade and migration flows, and the greatly reduced ability of many governments to police their countries combined to form a gold mine." A new Silk Route – "a multi-lane criminal highway" – now links the "thick belt of instability" in the Balkans with Central Asia, China and Pakistan, permitting the swift and easy transfer of people, narcotics, cash for laundering, and other contraband to Western Europe and the United States.

    The Balkans have been Glenny's special area of expertise as a BBC foreign correspondent, but, in researching this book, he was drawn to a much wider underworld that required exploring: the Russian "Mafiya" ("midwives of capitalism"), the Indian sub-continent, Persian Gulf, Africa, Latin America, Canada, Japan, China and elsewhere. In doing so, he concludes that peace brings crime to nations which have ended their wars. Testosterone-driven young men, missionless after hostilities have ceased, form criminal gangs. Redundant police and army officers do likewise, joined by boxers, wrestlers, bouncers and barmen. Inexorably, politics and crime in, say, former Yugoslavia, become intertwined. Sanctions against racketeering regimes make things worse.

    "Virtually overnight," Glenny argues, a UN Security Council vote for sanctions against Belgrade in 1992 "created a pan-Balkan mafia of immense power, reach, creativity and venality." Greece, which believed the embargo to be unjust, helped the gangs break it.

    The author analyses a wave of human greed that has swept the former Soviet Union, and a corrupt system of governance fostered by oil revenues. This greed has, for example, almost destroyed the spawning grounds of the beluga sturgeon on the Ural River. Local fishermen get three dollars from the state for one fish's eggs. A kilo of this caviar fetches $6,000-$7,000 in Paris and New York – a mark-up that "has prompted the growth of one of the most profitable mafia operations in the former Soviet Union".

    Glenny paints a lurid picture of the looting of post-Soviet Russia by the infamous oligarchs, some of whom were served by moonlighting government security forces, until Vladimir Putin clipped a few wings. Further, he has a fascinating account of how a large number of Russian-Jewish criminals joined the exodus to Israel in the 1990s. Following one particularly brutal murder, Israeli police unravelled a network of pimps, brothels, protection rackets, counterfeit documents and kidnapping. "Embracing globalisation, Israel was becoming more permissive."

    And so, grimly, to Dubai, Mumbai, the "gaudy opulence" of Nigeria's kleptocracy, South Africa's billion-dollar car thefts, Canada's marijuana trade, the paramilitary gangsters of Colombia, the bent nouveaux riches of China, the notorious yakuza of Japan – all seemingly, in our small, increasingly tightly bound world, tentacles of a single monster.

    This is a well-sustained narrative dealing seamlessly, if dismayingly, with the tricks, motives and rewards of the new global underworld and the (for the most part) impotence of governments in tackling it successfully. Indeed, Glenny tells us how President Bill Clinton ordered the Italian authorities to back away from prosecuting Montenegro's young president, Milo Djukanovic, for organising a $20 million-a-year cigarette smuggling racket, because Washington needed him in its battle against Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic.

    No wonder, then, that the world's "shadow economy" now accounts for between 15 and 20 per cent of global turnover, or that most countries have their own silnice hanby, the "Road of Shame" linking Dresden and Prague on which prostitutes and pimps openly ply their trade for tourists, truckers and toerag-toffs.

    McMafia: Crime without frontiers, By Misha Glenny - Reviews, Books - The Independent

  2. #2
    I am in Jail

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    22-11-2011 @ 08:27 AM
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    Hootie, can you just summarise and add the dam link?

  3. #3
    Happyman's Avatar
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    31-01-2011 @ 09:29 PM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jet Gorgon View Post
    Hootie, can you just summarise and add the dam link?

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