"This monograph introduces a misunderstood aspect of 'wars among the people.' The author addresses the interesting subject of the multifaceted nature and predominant role of gangs operating as state and nonstate proxies in the modern unbalanced global security environment. In every phase of the process of compelling radical political change, agitator-gangs and popular militias play significant roles in helping their political patrons prepare to take control of a targeted political-social entity. As a result, gangs (bandas criminales or whatever they may be called) are important components of a highly complex political-psychological-military act--contemporary irregular asymmetrical political war. In these terms, this monograph is relevant to modern political discussions regarding 'new' socialism, populism and neopopulism, and hegemonic state and nonstate challenges to stronger opponents. More specifically, this monograph examines examples of contemporary populism and neopopulism, 21st century socialism, and a nonstate actor (al-Qaeda) seeking regional and global hegemony. They are: first, paramilitary gang permutations in Colombia that are contributing significantly to the erosion of the Colombian state and its democratic institutions, and implementing the anti-system objectives of their elite neo-populist sponsors; second, Hugo Chavez's use of the New Socialism and popular militias to facilitate his populist Bolivarian dream of creating a mega-state in Latin America; and, third, al-Qaeda's strategic and hegemonic use of political-criminal gangs to coerce substantive change in Spanish and other Western European foreign and defense policy and governance."
U.S. Army War College. Strategic Studies Institute: http://www.StrategicStudiesInstitute.army.mil/