Counternarcotics in Afghanistan

In an attempt to end one of the longest wars in U.S. history, the United States and its NATO allies in Afghanistan view counternarcotics initiatives as vital to counterinsurgency efforts by cutting off revenue to insurgents. A new Center for International Cooperation (CIC) report by Jonathan Caulkins, Mark Kleiman, and Jonathan Kulick challenges this assumption.

The United States and its NATO allies in Afghanistan view counternarcotics initiatives as vital to counterinsurgency efforts by cutting off revenue to insurgents. A new Center for International Cooperation (CIC) report entitled "Drug Production and Trafficking, Counterdrug Policies, and Security and Governance in Afghanistan" challenges this assumption. Instead, the authors argue:

  • Current counternarcotics policy in Afghanistan is financially benefiting – rather than hurting – insurgents;
  • Rural development efforts should be focused on assisting rural populations – aid should not be conditioned on desistance from poppy-growing; and
  • Counternarcotics policy should be refocused to discriminate against illegal armed groups and corrupt officials in enforcement.

The report utilizes microeconomic analysis of the likely consequences of various counternarcotics strategies on both drug market outcomes and the security and governance situation in Afghanistan. It examines the division of drug trafficking revenues among insurgents, “warlords,” and corrupt government officials, the likely impact of drug enforcement policies on different points of the distribution chain, and the effect of these policies on drug consumption, dependency and harm to drug users.

Speakers

  • Jonathan Caulkins, Presenter
    Co-author, "Drug Production and Trafficking, Counterdrug Policies, and Security and Governance in Afghanistan."
  • Mark Kleiman, Presenter
    Co-author, "Drug Production and Trafficking, Counterdrug Policies, and Security and Governance in Afghanistan."
  • Jonathan Kulick, Presenter
    Co-author, "Drug Production and Trafficking, Counterdrug Policies, and Security and Governance in Afghanistan."
  • Philip B. Heymann, Discussant
    Ames Professor of Law at Harvard and former Deputy Attorney General
  • William Taylor, Moderator
    Vice President of Post-Conflict Peace and Stability Operations, U.S. Institute of Peace

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