Skyrocketing Crime Rates And Imperial Wars
(Axis of Logic) -- by James Petras --
Imperial interventions in civil wars have a devastating effect on countries that last for decades and affect the entire economy and society. One indicator of the long-term consequences of imperial military intervention is the tremendous increase of violent crime, the multiplication of gangs, homicides and general insecurity in Central America. Violence increased far beyond what existed prior to imperial wars in such countries as Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. In the period prior to imperial intervention in Central America, during times of revolutionary ferment, high levels of social organization via inclusive social movements, channeled discontent into political and social channels. Revolutionary movements organized armed resistance against specifics targets; repressive police, military and death squad militias. Imperial intervention included military advisers and counter-insurgency strategies which uprooted peasants via scorched earth policies and destroyed communities. Assaults on urban barrios led to the break-up of family and neighborhood networks. The social bonds which integrate people into a moral and social community were ruptured: the goal of imperial planners is to decimate any independent popular civil-society organization as a political threat to its illegitimate collaborator regime.
In El Salvador, the US provided over $300 million a year in arms and training for almost a decade. The Pentagon through its advisory missions, in collaboration with local landlords and generals, financed and forcibly recruited thousands of peasants into death squad 'civilian militias' to assassinate local movement activists and terrorize farm workers'movements and trade union organizations. Under imperial military pressure the leaders of the major Central American guerrilla organizations signed on to a peace agreement. The "peace accords" retained the US collaborator regimes in power and the promised social reforms were never implemented. As a result, the homicide rate skyrocketed. The discharged guerrilla militants and unemployed right wing militia members, armed and trained, and with no future, became the bases for gangs, drug and people traffickers, kidnappers and extortionists. The number of people who were annually killed in violent crime (1991-2011) exceeded the number who died each year during the revolutionary struggle (1979-1990). Having successfully blocked the prospects of positive socio-economic transformations in wealth, land ownership, the judicial system and allocation of public investments, the US pushed for neo-liberal 'free trade agreements' which further decimated small farmers and retail commerce. Mass outmigration and crime became the 'roads out of poverty' in the aftermath of imperial intervention. Violent crime became so pervasive that the business elites of the US and Central America were hesitant to invest and profit from the low wages and the unemployed who crowded the labor market. The cost of hiring private security armies to protect upscale neighborhoods, business operations, country clubs, and exclusive restaurant and leisure centers became prohibitive.
Faced with the "unfavorable climate for business" created by the very same pro-business Pentagon intervention, after two decades of murder and mayhem, the World Bank intervened. The World Development Report (WDR) for 2010 (published in 2011) focuses on the theme of "conflict, security and development". The Report proposed a series of measures to lessen what it calls "mass violence". The Report was taken up and elaborated in the Financial Times (4/27/11 p. 9) by Martin Wolf in an article titled "Remove the scourge of conflict". The Report and Wolf provide time series data between 1999-2009 showing the vertical growth of "criminal violence after civil wars"; time series data show that countries with high poverty rates based on the (percent of population with income below $1.25 per day) have experienced greater violence than those with low poverty rate; time series data show that greater 'violence' reduced real GDP growth.
Both the WB Report and the Financial Times fail to identify the true nature of the 'violent conflict', the principle source of violence and the foreign and domestic elite economic policies which deepen and prolong 'violence'.
In the case of Central America, particularly El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras, the WB and Financial Times resort to vacuous generalization to avoid discussing the massive military role of US imperialism in promoting large scale, long term violence in the countries. Instead the FT strikes a phony philosophical note "man is a violent animal" (Alas). In fact imperialist rulers are violent animals; especially with regard to poor countries attempting to free themselves of US backed oligarchies. To their discredit the WB and FT obfuscate the data by claiming that the deaths were a product of "civil wars"...MORE...LINK