In This Review

Global Security Upheaval: Armed Nonstate Groups Usurping State Stability Functions
Global Security Upheaval: Armed Nonstate Groups Usurping State Stability Functions
By Robert Mandel
Stanford Security Studies, 2013, 304 pp

This iconoclastic book takes issue with the conventional view that global security requires strong states capable of policing borders and enforcing order. Mandel believes that security and governance are shifting from public to private hands. In many countries, armed nonstate groups share power with central governments; Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Libya are a few prominent examples. Mandel’s claim is that at least in some instances, armed nonstate groups can contribute to stability and that efforts to bolster central governments only lead to more violence and instability. The book finds that private armed groups can gain a comparative advantage in troubled places by guaranteeing the physical safety and humanitarian needs of endangered groups. The book’s insights are useful, although most of the cases Mandel cites involve controversial groups (such as Hezbollah in Lebanon) and offer decidedly mixed evidence. Many readers might actually come away from the book with a new appreciation for the state as a source of security.