Targeting the Taliban’s drug dealers

… makes more sense than ramping up drug enforcement generically.

I’m agnostic as to the operational and legal merits of putting drug dealers who work for, or pay protection money to, the Taliban on the military target list. Of course a lot depends on how accurate the intelligence is.

What I’m sure of is that targeting them, whether for military action or ordinary drug law enforcement, makes more sense than simply ramping up Afghan drug enforcement generically. Drug dealing helps fund the insurgency (and warlordism). But that doesn’t mean that cracking down on drug dealing would tend to shut off those funds. The result might well be the reverse: raising prices, and therefore revenues. The trick is to concentrate enforcement on the people who contribute to the security problem as well as the drug problem, rather than on their competitors.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: