Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Andreas In Foreign Affairs: "Measuring the Mafia State"

June 21, 2012

Incoming Institute Interim Director and Professor of Political Science Peter Andreas argues that the rise of the "mafia-state" is nothing new. Writing in the July/August issue of Foreign Affairs, Andreas responds to an essay by commentator Moisés Naím in the previous issue of the magazine which contends that globalized markets and financial systems have enabled government and organized crime to fuse to an unprecedented and terrifying degree.

Andreas points to historical examples of government-criminal collusion ranging from Canadian acceptance of bootlegging during Prohibition to Serbian facilitation of smuggling in the 1990s to demonstrate that the mafia-state is not a novel phenomenon. "[The mafia-state] is hardly new," writes Andreas. "For every eye-popping contemporary example that Naím gives of a criminal organization linked to a state, there are many more equally striking parallels from the past. The state and organized crime have never been as separate as Naím seems to imagine they once were." Naím counters Andreas' argument, claiming that "new technologies ... have transformed old crimes," making the contemporary mafia-state a new, grave security threat.

Professor Andreas is the author of the forthcoming book Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America.