Street Gangs: The New Urban Insurgency

  • March 01, 2005
  • Dr Max G Manwaring

The primary thrust of this monograph is to explain the linkage of contemporary criminal street gangs (that is, the gang phenomenon or third generation gangs) to insurgency in terms of the instability it wreaks upon government and the concomitant challenge to state sovereignty. Although there are differences between gangs and insurgents regarding motives and modes of operations, this linkage infers that gang phenomena are mutated forms of urban insurgency. In these terms, these "new" nonstate actors must eventually seize political power in order to guarantee the freedom of action and the commercial environment they want. The common denominator that clearly links the gang phenomenon to insurgency is that the third generation gangs' and insurgents' ultimate objective is to depose or control the governments of targeted countries. As a consequence, the "Duck Analogy" applies. Third generation gangs look like ducks, walk like ducks, and act like ducks—a peculiar breed, but ducks nevertheless! This monograph concludes with recommendations for the United States and other countries to focus security and assistance responses at the strategic level. The intent is to help leaders achieve strategic clarity and operate more effectively in the complex politically dominated, contemporary global security arena.