Counter-narcotics policy in Afghanistan may benefit insurgents, analysis finds

Jun 25, 2010 By Minne Ho

( -- In an applied economic analysis, UCLA's Mark Kleiman and his co-authors found that the current counter-narcotics strategy is likely to aggravate the Afghan insurgency and exacerbate corruption and criminal violence.

Could the counter-narcotics efforts of U.S. forces and their allies in Afghanistan actually make the insurgency worse?

That's the argument Mark A.R. Kleiman, a professor of at the UCLA School of Public Affairs, Jonathan Caulkins, a Carnegie Mellon University professor of operations research and public policy, and researcher Jonathan Kulick put forth in a new report, "Drug Production and Trafficking, Counterdrug Policies, and Security and Governance in Afghanistan."

In their study, released by New York University's Center on International Cooperation, the authors provide an applied economic analysis of the effect of the counter-narcotics policies which challenges the current view that these initiatives benefit counterinsurgency efforts by cutting off revenue to insurgents.

The researchers found that, contrary to much of what has been written on the subject, the counter-narcotics strategy is likely to aggravate the Afghan insurgency and to exacerbate and criminal violence.

In particular, they argue:

• "Price is king" — global production of heroin and opiates will remain concentrated in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future, regardless of counter-narcotics efforts.

• Rural development efforts should be focused on assisting rural populations — aid should not be provided only to those who desist from poppy-growing.

• Counter-narcotics enforcement efforts should be refocused to discriminate against illegal armed groups and corrupt officials.

The authors utilized microeconomic analysis of the likely consequences of various counter-narcotics strategies on both drug-market outcomes and the security and governance situation in Afghanistan.

"Afghanistan supplies 90 percent of the illicit opium in the world. Nothing done in Afghanistan is likely to change that much or to shrink world demand," Kleiman said. "When counter-narcotics efforts in Afghanistan succeed, the result is higher prices and the movement of the drug trade to insurgent-held areas. Why should we enrich our enemies?"

Explore further: Can science eliminate extreme poverty?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Clone ranger sniffs out airport drugs

Aug 12, 2009

A cloned sniffer dog has proved itself smarter than the average pup by detecting drugs at South Korea's main airport just weeks after starting service, officials said Wednesday.

Study: Patients with IBS commonly use narcotics

May 04, 2010

( -- The study found that 18 percent of irritable bowel syndrome patients surveyed reported they were currently using narcotics. These patients reported more abdominal pain, poorer health quality, more IBS-related ...

Afghanistan's Kabul Basin faces major water challenges

Jun 16, 2010

In the next 50 years, it is estimated that drinking water needs in the Kabul Basin of Afghanistan may increase sixfold due to population increases resulting from returning refugees. It is also likely that future water resources ...

Recommended for you

Can science eliminate extreme poverty?

Apr 16, 2014

Science has often come to the rescue when it comes to the world's big problems, be it the Green Revolution that helped avoid mass starvation or the small pox vaccine that eradicated the disease. There is ...

Japan stem cell body splashes cash on luxury furniture

Apr 14, 2014

A publicly-funded research institute in Japan, already embattled after accusing one of its own stem cell scientists of faking data, has spent tens of thousands of dollars on designer Italian furniture, reportedly to use up ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jun 25, 2010
We legalizers have long maintained that police (and military) efforts against drugs simply serve as a price-support mechanism. Legalize, and prices fall to near the cost of production. Without fat margins, the organized-crimers are out of business. And that's how it worked when alcohol was legalized in
the 1930s. Or, continue doing what isn't working, and continue billing the taxpayers for wars, prisons, and all the rest.

not rated yet Jun 25, 2010
"...contrary to much of what has been written on the subject, the counter-narcotics strategy is likely to aggravate the Afghan insurgency and to exacerbate corruption and criminal violence." Who would have guessed it? Apart from anyone with a brain. Good job that doesn't happen in the here eh?
not rated yet Jun 25, 2010
Somebody suggested we or the Afgan govt buy the stuff and preempt the Taliban.
Hmmm...then the Taliban would suggest to the farmers "We will give you a choice that you cannot refuse"
5 / 5 (1) Jun 30, 2010
my god - where are your heads - control and profit from the opium bus was one of the goals of the US - the Taliban had pretty well stopped this farm interest.

More news stories

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Crowd-sourcing Britain's Bronze Age

A new joint project by the British Museum and the UCL Institute of Archaeology is seeking online contributions from members of the public to enhance a major British Bronze Age archive and artefact collection.

Roman dig 'transforms understanding' of ancient port

( —Researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton have discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the ancient Roman port of Ostia, proving the city was much larger than previously ...

Tiny power plants hold promise for nuclear energy

Small underground nuclear power plants that could be cheaper to build than their behemoth counterparts may herald the future for an energy industry under intense scrutiny since the Fukushima disaster, the ...

Unraveling the 'black ribbon' around lung cancer

It's not uncommon these days to find a colored ribbon representing a disease. A pink ribbon is well known to signify breast cancer. But what color ribbon does one think of with lung cancer?