Friday, July 27, 2007

Another Brick in the Wall

Another glaring example of how state systems will continue to be hollowed out by networked tribes in a 4GW world:

Nigerian navy ousts 10 officers for smuggling oil

ABUJA, July 27 (Reuters) - Nigeria's navy has retired 10 officers, including a rear admiral, because of evidence they were involved in smuggling stolen crude oil, the chief of navy staff was reported as saying by the official news agency.

Nigeria is the world's eighth biggest exporter of crude oil but a sizeable proportion of its output is stolen by thieves who either drill into pipelines or hijack barges loaded with oil. The theft and smuggling of oil are known as "bunkering". Industry experts say much of the violence that plagues the oil-producing Niger Delta is connected to bunkering.

Armed gangs fight turf wars over bunkering territory, they say, while corrupt government officials and members of the security forces protect the gangs in exchange for a cut of the profits. Proceeds from bunkering fuel crime and militancy.

One other thing that was not mentioned - proceeds from bunkering feeds the families of the men and women who engage in this theft.

Just blowing it off as "one of those things that happens in foreign countries" would not be wise. All state systems are vulnerable to this type of infiltration. When times get tough, when resource pressures mount, remember Boss Hogg's rule of life: "Blood is thicker than water". Whether this "blood" tie is a gang, an ethnic militia, a clan - whatever - when these kinds of ties become more beneficial than a higher loyalty to a far away government, then the state is in trouble.

Tribes matter, these "mafias" we see glimpses of every now and then matter (immensely) and the tools with which one can hollow out a state are growing in number every day.

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