The Center on International Cooperation at NYU has published a paper in which Jonathan Caulkins, Jonathan Kulick, and I try to unpack the likely effects of different counter-drug strategies on the course of the conflict in Afghanistan. Short version: the drug problem does indeed contribute both to the insurgency and to the weakening of the state by warlord armies and corrupt officials, but most of what is done to fight the drug problem tends to make the problem worse, not better. That goes not only for crop interdiction and enforcement against trafficers, but also for “alternative development” efforts designed to induce farmers to plant something other than poppies.
Barnett Rubin, who spends half his time running CIC and the other half advising Richard Holbrooke, contributed a clear and concise preface that ably summarizes the document without entirley embracing its conclusions. Key sentence: “Counter-narcotics policy in Afghanistan alone may move production around Afghanistan – to relatively more insecure areas – but cannot sustainably decrease the size of the opiate industry in that country.”
We’re still working on this topic, as part of a larger team, and any comments would be welcome.