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Monday, December 13, 2004

Feral Cities

Various cities around the world are descending into chaos and urban decay. Richard Norton of the Naval War College goes into a long analysis of what constitutes a feral city. Here is a list of some failed and failing cities in developing countries that are in varying stages of "wildness":

• Mogadishu, Somalia: the worst of the worst-no central government since early 1991 and with clan militias running wild. Hell on Earth.

• Johannesburg, South Africa: a culture of violence breeding ruthless gangs and decay that brings in swarms of squatters who have taken over the downtown including the stock exchange. Other South African cities like Durban and Cape Town are not far behind.

• Falluja, Iraq: to be seen if it can be brought back.

• Najaf, Iraq: ditto

• Kararchi, Pakistan: 40% of the population lives in slums. Thriving black market for drugs and weapons. A breeding ground for Islamic terrorists.

• San Paulo, Brazil: large sections of Brazilian cities (the favelas) have been turned over to the gangs. The wealthy use helicopers to travel and avoid the cesspool of shantytown strongholds below. There are 240 helipads in San Paulo and only 10 in New York City.

• Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Almost daily shoot-outs between the police and drug cartels are raising fears that Rio de Janeiro is facing something akin to a guerrilla war. [bbc]

• Mexico City, Mexico: serious crime has doubled over the past three to four years; it is estimated that 15.5 million assaults now occur every year in Mexico City. Car-jacking and taxi-jacking have reached such epidemic proportions that visitors are now officially warned not to use the cabs. The Mexico City police department has ninety-one thousand officers—more men than the Canadian army—but graft and corruption on the force are rampant and on the rise. According to Mexican senator Adolfo Zinser, police officers themselves directly contribute to the city’s crime statistics: “In the morning they are a policeman. In the afternoon they’re crooks.”

FERAL CITIES [Naval War College - Richard J. Norton]
Feral Cities [NY Times]