“Once a gangster, always a gangster,” Julio says. “The only way out from this life is death, so if I can’t stop, all I can do is ask for forgiveness, cleanse and get on with it.”
Julio is a 33-year-old narco commander in the resurgent drug war on Columbia’s Pacific Coast. He runs a local cell for Empresa, the ruling gang. He is known and feared by the locals because his job is to terrorize them. In a war for turf control, gang rivals regularly try to kill Julio. They know that eliminating Julio would leave a very profitable area up for grabs.
The Atlantic Council is a think tank primarily focused on foreign policy. It is influential within the Washington turf management system. They claim to promote constructive leadership and engagement in international affairs and play a central role in meeting global challenges.
Their motto reads:
“The Council provides an essential forum for navigating the dramatic economic and political changes defining the twenty-first century by informing and galvanizing its uniquely influential network of global leaders. The Council shapes policy choices and strategies to create a more secure and prosperous world.”
Recently the Atlantic Council published their strategy to create a more secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific by drawing a series of “red lines” backed by the threat to use military force. They write: “any nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons action by China against the U.S. or its allies or by North Korea; any Chinese military attack against Taiwan or its offshore islands, including an economic blockade or major cyberattack against Taiwanese public infrastructure and institutions; any Chinese attack against Japanese forces in their defense of Japanese sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands, which China claims as to the Diaoyu, and their surrounding exclusive economic zone in the East China Sea; any major Chinese hostile action in the South China Sea to further reclaim and militarize islands, to deploy force against other claimant states, or to prevent full freedom of navigation operations by the U.S. and allied maritime forces; and any Chinese attack against the sovereign territory or military assets of U.S. treaty allies.”
In Julio’s world, so-called invisible borders define gang turf. Residents can be killed simply for crossing into rival territory. In the Atlantic Council world, crossing “red lines” would require the use of military force. The Atlantic Council has a more refined message with better public relations personnel, but they are surprisingly similar to the Julio narco-drug community message.
In Julio’s lawless, violent neighborhood, there is no opposition or challenge from their constituents. Instead, they nod and smile nervously. The bullies can walk the streets, greet those they meet in a politician-like style. Consequently, the people in these communities watch the bully as he manages his turf through extortion, collecting fees, and his army of hitmen enforce gang rule to protect their turf.
The Atlantic Council appears to be prescribing that Washington adopt the same turf management protocol as Julio. Hegemony is the drug. The Indo-Pacific is the turf. It is scary that the Biden Administration appears to be listening.
Attempting to dominate China in its neighborhood is the recipe for a turf war between two nuclear-armed gangs.