I got this story from Prometheus6. Ignatius’ central argument here is based on something he picked up from IR specialists in political science–over time multi-polarity becomes stable, in some ways as stable as a bi-polar world with only two superpowers. But that transition is a bitch.

We’re in the middle of the transition right now, and it’ll probably get a lot worse before it gets better.

Reading this story made me think of a conversation I had last night at a retirement party for our outgoing Department Chair, Matt Crenson. Crenson is an urban politics specialist, and is as much a part of the Baltimore landscape as Cal Ripken. In talking about The Wire and about how to embed it in my fall Urban Politics class, we started talking about the drug war and Crenson noted that the major reason for the high rates of drug inspired violence was that there was no major drug dealer. The Baltimore drug-gang landscape is itself moving towards a multi-polar reality but has not quite reached it yet.

There’s been some work examining gang warfare from an IR perspective. Most notable here is Errol Henderson and Russell Lang’s piece Reducing Gang Violence: Norms from the Interstate System:

“Since the relations that exist among territorial urban gangs bear some important structural similarities to the decentralised interstate system, we contend that the expansion of the norms that already appear in both systems, such as respect for spheres of influence, reciprocity in cooperative exchanges, and the observance of treaties, can serve as the basis for moderating intergang conflict. We suggest intervention and mediation strategies that seek to institutionalise the conflict-dampening norms within the intergang system.”(taken from the abstract)

I’m pretty the link above won’t work unless you have an educational account. If you’re interested in it, email me offline and I’ll see what I can do.