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War on Drugs in Afghanistan. Jessica Kenney Krista Flynt Krista Tuthill. Thesis. The war on drugs in Afghanistan undermines the war on terror. Eradication of opium production and trade destabilizes the country and undermines alliances made to counter terrorism. Transnational Actors.

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War on drugs in afghanistan l.jpg

War on Drugs in Afghanistan

Jessica Kenney Krista Flynt Krista Tuthill

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  • The war on drugs in Afghanistan undermines the war on terror. Eradication of opium production and trade destabilizes the country and undermines alliances made to counter terrorism.

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Transnational Actors

  • The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

  • NATO

  • The World Bank

  • Afghanistan, Russia, Britain, and the United States

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Afghanistan’s historical transformation

  • Cold War

    • Soviet Invasion and occupation, 1979-1989

    • U.S. supports the Mujaheddin, fighting the Soviet troops

    • Arms input and financial support

    • Environment for drug trade

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Afghanistan’s historical transformation

  • Pre-Soviet economy

  • US turns a blind eye to illegal drug trade

  • Taliban regime, 1996-2001

  • Contributors to drug trade

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Afghanistan’s dependence on opium

  • Over half (53%) of Afghanistan’s GDP comes from the opium trade. $4 bill. in 2007

  • It stabilizes economy

  • 78% of Afghanis are rural farmers

YouTube video:


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Why farmers grow poppy

  • Quick return on investment

  • Poppies require less water

  • Poppy crop sells for 30x as much profit as wheat

  • Salaam credit system

  • Land shortage

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The case for eradication programs

  • Drug war is Taliban’s most effective recruiter

  • Narco-economy may lead to the development of an unstable narco-state with deep seated public corruption

  • Opium production provides the Taliban with an estimated $30 to $100 million per year

  • Drug trafficking is corrupting the country’s government and infrastructure

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US Government actions in Afghanistan

  • Unauthorized dumping of herbicides over Afghanistan opium fields

  • Plan Afghanistan

  • Breakdown of funds

  • Aerial eradication vs. manual eradication

  • Role of the US military-or lack thereof

  • Plan Afghanistan’s progress today (and looking into the future)

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The case against eradication programs

  • President Karzai would lose loyalty from regional warlords

  • Repressive approach to eradication will result in a loss of Afghani support for their government

  • Has caused revolts from citizens involved in poppy cultivation in the past

  • Negative impacts of aerial eradication

  • Loss of industry would devastate the economy

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IR Theories

  • Narco-terrorism (and the subsequent failure of a realist approach)

  • Realism: through the eyes of Afghanis vs. Americans

  • Institutionalists: Proposed methods of development

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Attempted solutions

  • British crop substitution

    • Expansion of the opium by farmers who pocketed the money and continued to produce

  • President Hamid Karzai enacted a reduction policy against the opium poppy economy

    • Provincial leader reaction

      YouTube video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=5UM8KxKaeSw

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  • Non-military approach to the war on drugs due to interdependence

  • Rebuilding of the infrastructure

    • Supported crop substitutions

    • Funding of alternate livelihoods for opium farmers

      • Agriculture, irrigation and livestock

      • Rural enterprise development

      • Rural infrastructure

      • Local governance

  • Legalization of opium for medicinal use

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  • “...to overcome both opium production and terrorism in Afghanistan, the government and the international community should focus less on waging wars on drugs and terrorism and more on implementing a broad program of alternative and integrated development in the whole country. Within this, a multi-level strategy involving effective sanctions on illicit and criminal activities is critical. Such a program should be implemented in a progressive way so as to secure sustainable political and territorial stability. Long-lasting peace combined with political as well as economic development must be achieved if Afghanistan is to be successfully rid of its illicit drugs economy-war economy nexus” (Chouvy).

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Works Cited

  • CIA https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/af.html#People

  • Carpenter, Ted G. 2004. "How the Drug War in Afghanistan Undermines America’s War on Terror." Washington D.C.: Cato Institute.

  • Koehler, Jan, and Christoph Zuercher. 2007. "Statebuilding, Conflict and Narcotics in Afghanistan: The View from Below." International Peacekeeping 14 (1), 62-74.

  • New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/11/opinion/11ghani.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&oref=login

  • ReliefWeb http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900sid/EGUA-78ZQLE?OpenDocument

  • Slate Magazine http://www.slate.com/id/2110987/

  • Terrorism Monitor http://www.pa-chouvy.org/terrorism-monitor-afghanistan-narcoterrorism.html

  • Transnational Institute: Drugs and Democracy http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?page=policybriefings_brief10

  • US Department of State http://usinfo.state.gov/sa/Archive/2006/Jan/31-229671.html ; http://www.state.gov/p/inl/rls/rpt/90561.htm

  • The World Bank http://siteresources.worldbank.org/SOUTHASIAEXT/Resources/223546-1202156192201/4638255-1202156207051/summaryAfghanistanOpium2008.pdf

  • YouTube http://youtube.com/watch?v=_OBlgSz8sSM&feature=related