A few of us, notably influenced by the work of John Robb and Robert Bunker, have begun to suspect that there is in fact a sort of ‘global insurgency’ underway. It isn’t new; not necessarily. Nor is it necessarily monolithic.

So, first of all, what the global insurgency is not: It is not Hydra, Cobra, SPECTRE, or KAOS. It is not the Illuminati fomenting chaos so that they can finally rule the world. It is not an ISIS plot to spread the caliphate to the four corners of the world. It is far, far more complex than that. It is a case of converging methods and interests, fueled by the speed of global communications.

In his book, “The Devil’s Secret Name,” Jim Morris postulates what he calls the “Third-World War.” The idea was that, contrary to the popular picture of World War III being waged with massed formations of tanks in Central Europe, and eventually with nuclear weapons, the war was waged throughout the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s via proxies and guerrillas in the Third World. He was not alone in his assessment; when he ran the idea past Major General Jack Singlaub, Singlaub’s response was, “Yes, of course. That’s quite correct.”

In the course of this Third-World War, there was much sharing of tactics, techniques, and strategies, as well as alliances that weren’t necessarily evident on the surface. Guerrillas and terrorists from all over the world gravitated to places like the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon for training. Even after the “end” of the Cold War, when the communist center effectively collapsed with the dismantling of the Soviet Union, a lot of the pseudo-infrastructure of the Third-World War remained, especially as the Russian mob started selling off weapons in the ’90s.

The accelerating speed of global communications has only further advanced this Third-World War, or global insurgency. Sharing tactics, inspiration, or information is as easy as setting up a Twitter account. The beheadings in Mexico were inspired by AQI’s beheading videos from Iraq, posted on the Internet. Much of the “Arab Spring” was coordinated through social media. John Robb calls this “open-source warfare.” It allows for planning and executing operations with a highly distributed footprint, and on the cheap.

And that’s really why insurgency has become so common; compared to maintaining large, high-tech militaries, it’s cheap. It has allowed China to take advantage of violent situations to acquire strategic resources where their strategic and economic rivals don’t dare go (or provided “alternate governance structures” that are willing to do business with the Chinese illegally, such as the Caballeros Templarios Cartel selling illegally mined iron ore through Lazaro Cardenas). On China’s part, this is not always simply opportunism, either; a shipment of weapons intended for the FARC, sold by a pair of Australians, was almost entirely made up of Chinese weapons. It has allowed Russia a (admittedly paper-thin) cover for action in Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia. It has been the Saudis’ primary modus operandi against the Baathists and the Iranians. It is Hezbollah’s and the IRGC Qods Force’s entire reason for being.

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Many of these groups and nations work together. They’re doing this not because of some Ludlum-esque grand conspiracy, but because of convergent interests and methods. There is little (aside from a ‘revolutionary’ ideology) that Bolivarian Venezuela and Khomenist Iran have in common, yet they have shared interests, and a shared enemy in the United States, so Iranians have a free pass in Venezuela. As evidenced in the current regional war raging in the Middle East, there are centuries of hatred between Sunni and Shi’a factions, yet al-Qaeda and the Iranians occasionally worked together while the U.S. was in Iraq, as the United States presented enough of a common foe to temporarily displace their differences.

The threat this global insurgency presents is a shadowy one. It is a combination of ideological terrorists and guerrillas, state-level strategic actors, and organized crime. It is not an organization, but an always-shifting network operating largely out of public view. It is dispersed, making it extremely hard to combat. There is no one spider in the middle of the web who can be eliminated to end it all.

Note: Peter Nealen’s latest American Praetorians thriller, “The Devil You Don’t Know,” is available for pre-order here.

(Featured image courtesy of cleanemissions.com)