A groundbreaking investigation of how illicit commerce is changing the world by transforming economies, reshaping politics, and capturing governments.In this fascinating and comprehensive examination of the underside of globalization, Moises Naím illuminates the struggle between traffickers and the hamstrung bureaucracies trying to control them. From illegal migrants to drugs to weapons to laundered money to counterfeit goods, the black market produces enormous profits that are reinvested to create new businesses, enable terrorists, and even to take over governments. Naím reveals the inner workings of these amazingly efficient international organizations and shows why it is so hard — and so necessary to contain them. Riveting and deeply informed, Illicit will change how you see the world around you.
In this sweeping and informative work, Foreign Policy editor Na m demystifies the global trade in illegal goods and services and, in the process, presents an original portrait of globalization that skillfully eschews the utopian doggerel that often characterizes such accounts. Na m provides a detailed tour of the major globalized criminal activities drug production and distribution, illegal arms dealing, human trafficking, counterfeiting, money laundering and so on and introduces a host of criminal networks that profit from them. The book is regrettably devoid of the kind of firsthand reporting from the field that would have made the subject matter really jump off the page. Yet Na m creates a picture of illicit trade which demonstrates that, far from taking place in a shadowy underworld, such activity is inextricably linked to legitimate commerce and directly affects all of us. In Na m's view, globalization's "diffusion of power to individuals and groups" and away from sovereign states has created a "smuggler's nirvana," in which the lines between legitimate and illegitimate economic activity are blurred and criminal networks possess an unprecedented degree of political influence. Making matters worse, the widening gap between global haves and have-nots what Na m calls "geopolitical bright spots and black holes" has increased the incentive for individuals and groups on both sides of the divide to participate in illicit activities. The remedy? In addition to offering a bevy of specific policy ideas, Na m urges readers to move away from simplistic moral denunciations and to focus, instead, on reducing the demand for criminals' goods and services and on weakening the incentives for ordinary people to become involved in their enterprises. (On sale Oct. 18)