It has become commonplace to observe that power is shifting: from states to nonstate actors, from institutions to networks, and so on. In this fascinating book, Naím makes the more provocative claim that power is, in fact, declining.
The link between crime and the state is neither as new nor as scary as Moisés Naím depicted it, argues Peter Andreas; after all, criminals have been corrupting governments for centuries. Naím responds that mafia states are unprecedented and worrisome.
Around the world, criminal organizations and governments are fusing to an unprecedented degree, blurring the distinction between national interests and what suits the gangsters. Mafia states enjoy the unhealthy advantages of their hybrid status: they’re as nimble as gangs and as well protected as governments, and thus more dangerous than either.
When thinking about Latin America, despair can be as disorienting as optimism. In the early 1990s, economic euphoria reigned in Latin America. Then came Mexico. The current gloom--the Tequila effect--will also pass. The recent wave of reforms dealt swiftly with such problems as inflation, low exports, currency instability, capital flight, and the boosting of regional trade. But to ensure prosperity after the peso debacle, Latin America must address its underlying woes: poverty, low productivity, and chronically ineffectual civic institutions.