Aug 24, 2011

The Mongol Empire, Genghis Khan, and Crime in Latin America

According to this National Geographic article:
[Genghis] Khan's empire at the time of his death extended across Asia, from the Pacific Ocean to the Caspian Sea. His military conquests were frequently characterized by the wholesale slaughter of the vanquished. His descendants extended the empire and maintained power in the region for several hundred years, in civilizations in which harems and concubines were the norm. And the males were markedly prolific.  
Khan's eldest son, Tushi, is reported to have had 40 sons. Documents written during or just after Khan's reign say that after a conquest, looting, pillaging, and rape were the spoils of war for all soldiers, but that Khan got first pick of the beautiful women. His grandson, Kubilai Khan, who established the Yuan Dynasty in China, had 22 legitimate sons, and was reported to have added 30 virgins to his harem each year.
In one of my classes we read this book. It made me think about the similarities between the Mongol Empire and the crime/drug-trafficking-Empire that has expanded in Latin America, West Africa and other regions of the world. 
The main characteristic of the Mongol Empire was its brutal expansion, it robbed and enslaved, its expansion was relatively rapid.
At its greatest extent it spanned 6,000 mi (9,700 km), covered an area of 33,000,000 km2 (12,700,000 sq mi), 22% of the Earth's total land area, and held sway over a population of 100 million. Source
Obviously, the Mongols did not respect property rights or human rights, nor does organized crime. It does not matter if one lives in San Salvador, Santo Domingo or Guatemala city (just to mention three cities in the region), the sense of insecurity due to organized crime is very similar in each of them. Not only that, the damage in terms of lethal victims is immeasurable.  
Actually, plundering and killing has been the characteristic not only of the Mongol Empire but of other empires as well: The French, The Belgian, The Spaniard, etc. The orginized-crime-empire is just another manifestation of some forces in human nature that, given the economic and power incentives, make people kill each other. 
It is well known that when the rule of law is weak, in the absence of social controls (such as religion, for example), killings increase. We can simply say that Latin America witnesses nowadays a close fight between the Empire of the law and the Empire of organized crime. The later has gained more territory in the last ten years. Two options are clear: to strengthen the capacity of the empire of the law, and/or to weaken the incentives that give meaning to the organize crime empire (e. g. drug liberalization).
It is worth noting that the Mongol Empire fell because of internal fights and rebellions, while the Chinese people organized themselves and counterattacked. The scary thing is that the Mongol Empire lasted two centuries. 
Imagine the drug-organized-crime-Empire lasting two centuries, a very petrifying thought indeed. 

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