Illicit trade in weapons, narcotics, counterfeit goods and much more has found many seams where even the most well-resourced law enforcement and intelligence efforts don’t suffice. While global flows of goods and information have brought great prosperity, they have also exposed serious weaknesses in traditional tools of governance.
In most cases, the people and organizations profiting from cross-border crimes hide in plain sight, co-opting the same global infrastructure for trade and communication that underpins legitimate commerce. And they are undiscriminating in the damage they inflict, from sapping tax revenues, to erasing the competitive advantages of legitimate companies, to outfitting terrorists with weapons and creating more widespread instability.
All this begs the question: Are companies responsible for promoting national security, beyond complying with the law?
Things might get worse before they get better. Access to sophisticated technologies will continue to widen, black markets will persist and bad guys will continue to exploit both. Not even the United States will be able to keep these challenges at bay using traditional tools alone. As President Jed Bartlet of West Wing lore once mused, “You really gotta ask yourself, what’s the point in being a superpower anymore.”
To read the full op-ed, click here.
This op-ed was first published in Ideas Lab on Oct. 31, 2013
Photo by Official U.S. Air Force via flickr