CIAO DATE: 7/00
The Narcotics War and Civil-Military Relations
International Studies Association
41st Annual Convention
Los Angeles, CA
March 14-18, 2000
The War Against illegal drugs has been recounted in numerous writings yet none have looked inwards into understanding that it is an issue of domestic civil-military relations similar to that of the 1960s military-industrial complex that has been internationalised by virtue of the actors. Despite this academic failing it has been labelled a "war". National resources allocated far exceed those allocated to other national crises despite the lack of a formal declaration of war and despite the lack of a formal legislative debate on the nature of the use of armed forces for such allocation of national security resources!. This paper will therefore undertake such an evaluation considering the nature of the Narcotics War as being international security, foreign policy, intelligence studies and how each of these lack a substantive understanding of the nature of the civil-military relations of the narcotics war or war against drugs.
"Truly, I do not know what is true and what is false, nor what I saw and what I merely dreamt - or rather, what I dreamt and what I merely saw"
In their Call for Papers, Michael Brecher, 2000 ISA President and Frank Harvey, 2000 Program, stated:
"The theme for ISA 2000 is a call for self-critical , state-of-the-art reflection within epistemologies, perspectives and subfields. The objective is to challenge proponents of specific paradigms, theories, approaches and substantive issue areas to confront their own limitations, stimulate debate about their most significant accomplishments, and discuss research paths for the years ahead."
My starting point is to question whether the war against drugs is a war. If the answer is No then in what capacity and under what authority is the military being deployed. If the answer is Yes then surely there should be considerations to non-military means towards conflict resolution, post-conflict reconciliation and such activities as diplomatic negotiations. For the military the question is not whether the war against drugs is a war but whether it is winnable or not. The military do not question their deployment. Such discrepancies show a tension in civil-military relations which highlights its evolving nature towards civil-society military relations. To make a valid appreciation a definition is merited as being:
"Civil-military relations involve a multiplicity of relationships between military men, institutions, and interests, on the one hand, and diverse and often conflicting non-military men, institutions, and interests on the other...the relation between the armed forces as a whole and society as a whole...the relation between the leadership of the armed forces (the officer corps) as an elite group and other elite groups...and...the relation between the commanders of the armed forces and the top political leaders of society - it is the foundation of the management of the use of armed force and the armed forces." 2
In such a definition it is clear that a war against drugs would constitute a relationship between the armed forces and society as a whole and the management of the use of armed force and the armed forces. The war against drugs for civil-military relations is therefore a policy which is a mix, depending on subject and circumstances of intention, expectation, preference and primary guideline for action. A policy is an option, an intent and a strategy. It differs from a promise which is a commitment to act in specified way whether or not when the times comes, it is found to be convenient to do so. It differs from a doctrine which sets out scales and types of implementations of strategy.
The issue for evolving civil-military relations in the war against drugs is when and how should military force be deployed hence the need to ask three questions: "Who am I Who are You; There are always better ways to do things; and What if we loose". The use of drugs is an aspect of societal relations which gives way for these questions to frequently resound through the Barracks and Command Centres of military facilities world-wide. Such frequent and deep introspectives of what is civil-military relations naturally has outlet in how the war against drugs is being fought. The war against drugs and evolving civil-military relations cannot be black-boxed into a isolated abstract but must also be considered in perspective of the current age of Regionalisation and Globalisation. Civil-military relations in the war against drugs can which involves global society as a whole can be considered to be evolving towards civil-society military relations as the actions taken against the international trade and consumption of illegal narcotic substances is not soley within a nation-state nor is it soley between nation-states.
The structure of this paper is to consider evolving civil-military relations towards civil-society military relations by looking at the war against drugs under the headings: Who am I Who are You; There are always better ways to do things; and What if we loose".
Who am I Who are you
One facet of civil-military relations is that of identity. It questions who is the civil and who is the military, who has authority and who has legitimacy, and who is friend and who is foe to name just a few questions. Hence it is not surprising that at all levels the question "Who am I - Who are You" is asked. The War against Drugs provides a number of surprising facts when one starts by asking "Who are You".
Who are You
The question "Who are You" needs to be asked for it is clear that any soldier, from Private to General, would like to know who he 3 is fighting for and who he is fighting against. The question is also of prevalence to any civil authority. In answering the realities of the war against drugs pose a dilemma - the drugs enemy was created by the friendly civil The origins of the war against drugs is clandestine warfare. If you look into the history of what is called the CIA, which means the US White House, it's secret wars, clandestine warfare, the trail of drug production just follows. The contemporary war against drugs started in France after the Second World War when the United States was essentially trying to reinstate the traditional social order, to rehabilitate Fascist collaborators, wipe out the Resistance and destroy the unions and so on. The first thing they did was reconstitute the Mafia, as strike-breakers or for other such useful services. And the Mafia doesn't do it for fun, so there was trade-off: Essentially they allowed them to re-institute the heroin-production system, which had been destroyed by the Fascists. The Fascists tended to run a pretty tight ship; they didn't want any competition, so they wiped out the Mafia. But the US reconstituted it, first in southern Italy, and then in southern France with the Corsican Mafia. That's where the famous French Connection comes from.
That was the main heroin center for many years. Then the US terrorist activities shifted over to Southeast Asia. If you want to carry out terrorist activities, you need local people to do it for you, and you also need secret money to pay for it, clandestine hidden money. Well if you need to hire thugs and murderers with secret money, there aren't many options. One of them is the drug connection. The so-called Golden Triangle around Burma, Laos and Thailand became a big drug-producting area with the help of the United States, as part of the secret wars against those populations.
In Central America, it was partly exposed in the Contra hearings, though it was mostly suppressed. But there's no question that the Reagan administration's terrorist operations in Central America were closely connected with drug trafficking. Afghanistan became one of the biggest centers of drug trafficking in the world in the 1980s, because that was the payoff for the forces to which the US was contributing millions of dollars: the same extreme Islamic fundamentalists who are now tearing the country to shreds. It's been true throughout the world. It's not that the US is trying to increase the use of drugs, it's just the natural thing to do. If you were in a position where you had to hire thugs and gangsters to kill peasants and break strikes, and you had to do it with untraceable money, what would come to your mind? The ramifications have been a runaway world, where drugs have infiltrated every aspect of society, akin to the processes of globalisation.
Who am I
If the war against drugs enemy was created by your own civil authority as part of a failed foreign policy then it is not surprising that the solider asks the question "Who am I". The soldier wishes to know if he is protecting his own society against his own statesmen on their authority. It is unlikely that any statesmen ask "Who am I" but if they did then they might find that they were their own enemy. For this paper it therefore appears that this question of "Who am I" is of paramount importance for military institutions who question their role in society, the nature of collective security arrangements and trans-national operations and for statesmen who must weigh the options.
For civil-military relations it is clear that the clandestine warfare friend is out of control which is why it is now an enemy. The victim of the war is now a teenager on the streets of the soldiers own city who has become a drugs addict or dealer due to social, cultural and economic situations beyond his control. The victim of the war has become a teenage producer who is as equally afflicted by circumstances beyond his control. The soldier is therefore not fighting an out of control clandestine warfare operation but an enemy called "Society don't care". Should the real target be the legislature's domestic policy for not providing sufficient education, sufficient medical treatment and sufficient financial aid to those who turn to drugs trafficking and consumption ? The answer is both yes and no. A viscous circle exists of supply and demand. Where there is supply then demand is created by the curious and the needy. Where there is demand then a supply is created by entrepreneurs. What might once have been clandestine warfare is now a global social problem. Drugs are therefore an issue of civil-society, the war against drugs is therefore an evolved civil-military relations to that of civil-society military relations.
Being civil-society military relations leads to back to the question "Who am I" since drugs is a social war where social problems are normally related to social values which have basis in culture, heritage and religion. The approach of most western law making institutions is to base laws on values provided by society over millennia. This means common law founded in religion and basic cultural beliefs. Both crime and the causes of war are is directly related to a societies belief systems. The use of drugs has no such basis as it has already been noted that it was a creation of clandestine warfare. There is no sin in any major world religion the use and sale of drugs as there is in adultery, theft or murder. When law making institutions seek a cause not founded into such historical and religious antecedents then the laws appear to flounder. This was the case with the Alcohol prohibition in the USA in the 1930s. This is now the case with the anti-drugs laws. Citizens question "Why marijuana and why not tobacco or tea - both are just leaves of nutrally grown plants". Citizens even go so far as to provide medical evidence that marijuana has medicinal value. Even the use of crime related statistics has not provided a means to prop up the use of the phrase "Drugs War". The links between drug trade and use is definitely linked to other crime. The starting point is much disputed. Do prostitutes became prostitutes to support drug addiction or does drug addiction lead to other crimes such as theft. This is not the point of this paper as all of such crimes need police and not military action. So where and how do governments justify the use of the phrase "Drugs War" and the mobilisation and deployment of armed forces. Hence the use of the military as a law-enforcement agency in the war against drugs results in the military asking "Who am I" in the context of their role in society as well as their role as protectors of society.
Governments have declared that the use of drugs reduces productivity of the workforce, is not taxed and by nature of its production is controlled by warlords. These warlords use narcotics trade to fund international terrorism. Hence the trade and consumption in narcotics is an act which supports terrorism. Therefore a War against Drugs is a War against Terrorism. Similarly warlords use slave trafficking and the illegal trade in diamonds and other commodities to support their activities. This rationalisation is seen by Governments as a way to justify that it is a War and not just a Police Act.
The armed forces of nation-states are therefore being used to protect state boundaries from the trade in narcotics. They are being used to defend their nation states' sovereign territorial demarcation. The armed forces are being used to prevent the free flow of trade in substances which the domestic legislative of some countries have deemed to be illegal for the consumption of their citizens, residents and guests because the revenue of such trade and consumption leads towards acts of terror and war. So if the most appropriate way to justify preventing trade and consumption of drugs is to classify it as a War against Society, even though Society dont Care.
The civil authorities therefore feel satisfied as do their media mouth-pieces. The military authorities are somewhat dubious as to this rationale. Yes - they definitely believe in the defence of the nation states boundaries. Yes - they definitely believe in the defence of Global Values. However on practical levels there has been no clearly acceptable point at which an observer can state that conflict commenced. There is no diplomatic action to attempt a cessation of hostilities. There has been no clear written order on what objectives to achieve, what weapons to use or even what to do with prisoners. Is a drug trafficker a prisoner of war or does he face a criminal court ?
The soldier questions if the War Against Drugs will only stop when there has been a Total Victory. Does a Total Victory necessitate a Total War ? Does this mean that Total Annihilation of all Drugs is necessary to stop the Drugs War or maybe a Total Victory for the other side ? This makes both the training of soldiers and defence management a difficult area. In posing these questions the soldier therefore asks "Who am I ?" Noticeably only certain sections of the armed forces can be used against drug traffickers. The armed and artillery seem to have no value in such a War.
There are always better ways of doing things.
The other side of the coin of "Who are You - Who am I" is the International Drug Complex. This is the civil-society side of the war against drugs. The theoretical concept of the International Drug Complex is chosen in analogy with the theory of the Military-Industrial Complex.(MIC). The MIC was broadly used to explain for the longevity of the Cold War, the spiralling arms race, the persistence of ideological antagonisms, 'perverted' priorities in state budgets and interventionist proclivities of big power's foreign policies. To explain the dynamics underlying these societal events and tendencies, the theory of the MIC focused specifically on relations between the military establishment and the weapons industry, that -within the social, economic and institutional fabric of specific countries- together formed a community of interest powerful enough to lead to such outcomes. Apart from analyzing such symbiotic relations between different actors with common and interrelated interests (special interest groups seeking special attention from the government), the theory of the MIC also focused on more systemic factors that lead to the growth of both the arms industry and the military services. Such systemic factors, the theory asserted, exist both within a specific society and in the international arena. In the domestic domain, even where there was no structure of interest mediation between a confederation of business firms and military services, and where the goals of the MIC were merely achieved through innumerable and basically unrelated decisions, still the outcomes of these decisions taken in the pursuit of perceived self-interests lead to the growth of both sectors. In the international arena, the theorists of the MIC perceived different, nationally bound, Military-Industrial Complexes to mutually support each other, as the alleged achievements of one party in the Cold War urged the other on to greater heights.
In a similar way, the underlying dynamics of the War on Drugs, can be explained by focusing on the symbiotic and systemic relations between the drug industry and states' drug control efforts, and from there develop a theory of the International Drug Complex. This theory should help to explain for the continuation -if not escalation- of the War on Drugs, explain the predominant place the drug issue has attained in domestic and international policies of many states, and provide a deeper understanding of the very dynamics of the drug industry and of the state powers put in place to control it. I depart from the assumption that by focusing on the political and economic dimensions of the drug industry and drug law enforcement, a more profound understanding can be achieved of the dynamics underlying their mutual expansion. I place the drug industry and law enforcement within the context of both the societies and the international political-economy in which they take shape, and thereby try to delineate their interactions and mutual dynamics. To assess the outcomes of their mutual interactions I focus on the distributional consequences of these interactions within and between societies; stating these - intended and unintended -consequences in terms of the distribution of power, wealth and security in both the domestic and the international realm.
Below I develop three closely related themes, through which I aim to illuminate the intertwined dynamics of the drug industry and law enforcement practices, and so provide the building blocks for a theory of the International Drug Complex:
As my focus is specifically on the international dimension of the interactions between the drug industry and law enforcement practices, in the next section I first clarify some of the dominant changes in the international political economy that I see as the necessary background for understanding the escalation of their mutual dynamics.
The internationalization of both crime and law enforcement and therefore also their mutual dynamics are closely related to the changes in the world system, brought about by the end of the Cold War, globalization, regional integration and neo-liberal reforms. The transformations these developments and processes gave rise to are manifold. They produced new patterns of hierarchy and dominance in the international system and changed the role of the state in this system. Therewith we see new forms of sovereignty (e.g. economic, multilateral, multinational) and changes in the relations between economic and political systems (e.g. deregulation, informalization, corruption). These changes in the world political and economic system also lead to a diminished separation between the domestic and the international frameworks for policy making and the management of economic affairs. With these developments the very basis of the accumulation of power and wealth, and the use of these resources for their protection take unprecedented shapes. This is equally true for the forces that try to redistribute these political and economic resources.
Globalization which is the umbrella of civil-society leads thus to a much more fragmented competition for the sources of power and wealth, in which non-state actors play an increasingly important role. In this context the internationalization of crime and law enforcement takes place. In this context their interactions take shape. It is also in this context that they influence the international political economy, and therewith the distribution of power, wealth and security in the international system.
Globalization, defined as the intensification of economic, political, social and cultural relations across borders, has to a large extent been facilitated by technological developments, and has further been sustained by economic and political decisions to give international exchanges free-way. Together with the partial liberalization of global markets, globalization has offered increasing opportunities for the unfettered flow of capital, goods, people and information over the globe. The concomitant increase in the power of market forces and the impact of neo-liberal reforms have debilitated states' capabilities or willingness to regulate and control these flows. It has also made both the civil and the military aware that civil-military relations is no longer contained within a nation-state.
Paradoxically, together with the further integration of the world society, these developments have also brought about disintegrative forces, which, combined with new technological capabilities, offer unprecedented opportunities for the expansion of transnational criminal enterprises. The political turmoil and poverty that came with these changes in the international political economy offer a virulent breeding ground for the drug industry, as increasingly people seek and find in it a way to alleviate economic distress and/ or fund their nationalist struggle through criminal enterprise (e.g. Kurdistan, Chechenia, Kosovo).
Globalization has also fostered the expansion of networks and illegal transactions over the globe. Migratory diasporas link relatively poor drug producing countries to consumer markets with far greater spending power. Financial technology makes it easier to hide the proceeds of crime, and increasing trade in general is likely to enhance the opportunities for smuggling and fraud.
Some criminal entrepreneurs, in more organized forms, like transnational enterprises, extent their transnational operations; and the degree to which their authority in world society and in the world economy rivals and encroaches upon that of governments. "Mafias", like the Italian Ndragheta and Camorra, the American Cosa Nostra, Colombian drug "cartels", Chinese and Hong Kong Triads, the Japanese Yakuza and, more recently, many -more or less nationally or ethnically based- organizations from former Eastern bloc countries, are only the most commonly known examples of criminal networks extending their activities over the globe. Amongst each other they either compete for markets or establish ways to cooperate in their activities. Drugs may or may not be their most rentable product, as they engage in many other legal and illegal activities (arms trafficking, prostitution, extortion etc.) that often have a much longer record of proven profitability. These activities not only offer them fast profits, but also the means to exert political power.
Organizing their resources helps some drug entrepreneurs to establish a power structure to protect themselves, to challenge the authority of states in specific areas, or even to supplant or penetrate the power of elites controlling a state. Such developments ultimately also may endanger other sectors of society and the social body in general, where progressively the rule of law and formally regulated relations between states, markets and societies give way to informal arrangements, corruption, violence, and intimidation.
Such consequences might, however, be brought about more by the fact that their activities are illegal, than that their organizations are criminal. More than the leverage power that organized crime can attain, it is the their untouchability that comes with the internationalization of their activities- that makes them such a threat to a state's authority. It is my assertion that where drug entrepreneurial networks cannot be incorporated in local or national political and economic arrangements, their impact on society becomes much more detrimental; a situation that is only worsened as the state increasingly resorts to criminalization and repressive means to control their activities.
In this context we can see a seemingly contradictory increase in both the importance of specific criminal or criminalized activities and in the coercive powers of states (police, military, custom agencies, fiscal and intelligence apparatuses).
Since the end of the Cold War, the 'peace dividend' has to a large extend been absorbed by assigning new tasks to coercive state agencies. In many countries this was given shape by a raise in expenditure for internal coercion, whereas the cost of defense are increasingly legitimized by the proclaimed need to counter new external threats. In this process, especially police forces have increased their size, their resources and their legal powers. In many countries also the military has been given tasks in drug repression. The United States in the 1980s and 1990s sufficiently amended the Posse Comitatus Act, that since 1878 had prevented military involvement in civil law enforcement, to engage in drug law enforcement at home and abroad. But also the Dutch, British and French navies are patrolling the Caribbean to interdict drug shipments.
Globalization and liberalization, thus, go hand in hand with new efforts directed at the control and regulation of markets, institutions and societies, notably those related to illegal drugs and migration, and to a lesser extent those controlling capital flows. Some of these control mechanisms lay in the remit of state agencies. There is however also a tendency to hive off part of control responsibilities to other levels of political authority as well as to the private sector. Most striking may be a shift from the use of administrative law to criminal law for the maintenance of order in society and the preservation of national security in general. Internal and external security concerns, so, become increasingly blurred, and therewith the tasks assigned to coercive state agencies to protect the sovereignty of the state.
The challenges to national sovereignty, posed by the consequences of globalization, have led many governments to believe that the traditional system for the organization of criminal justice policy - the system of individual states - no longer suffices to deal with new problems of international crime.
Extending and internationalizing state powers, political pressures and foreign interventions in a state's sovereignty, and a growing share of populations jailed on drug related charges, however, lead many people to perceive law enforcement itself as a threat to liberal society. Out of the roughly one million people serving jail terms in the United States [State] Prisons, about 59,9% are casual and non-violent drug offenders. In the United States of every 100.000 inhabitants 641 are in jail, in the Netherlands, to date, this is 'only' 65. The 'americanization' of the war on drugs is, however, also taking shape in Europe and other countries. International Conventions, Mutual Assistance Treaties, and institutional mechanisms set up under the three pillars of the European integration process, combine with fastly expanding informal networks among police agencies, intended to intensify the suppression of the drug scourge.
Important changes in the international political and economic system, that accelerated in the last decade or two, have offered unprecedented opportunities for legal and illegal trade, and for the redistribution of power and wealth. These developments incite states, or the elites controlling a state, to look for new ways to accumulate such resources, to control their societies, and manage the interface with the outside world. Liberalizing some activities thereby seems to go in par with the criminalization of others. The 'War on Drugs' is becoming one of the main legitimation venues for states to enhance their capacity to intervene, both in the national and in the international domain.
The growth of the drug industry and concomitant real or perceived threats to states' authority gave an important impulse to the development of law and the organization of crime control. Since the beginning of this century, starting with the Shanghai Conference in 1909, step by step a global prohibition regime was created, sanctioning the production, dealing, and trafficking of psychotropic substances. Almost every country in the world, by ratifying international treaties, obliged itself to adapt its national laws in accordance with these treaties, and thereby to suppress the now illegal drug business. The responsibility for control and furthering the design of the regime came to fall on the United Nations in 1946. This regime is still under construction, targeting new drugs and expanding its organizational structure. It encompasses multinational organizations, state bureaucracies, banks, medical institutions and morality. Thereby an unprecedented regulatory framework is established, comparable to the non-proliferation regime for nuclear weaponry. In the evolution of this international regime, individual states attained a high degree of world-wide uniformity and mutual tuning in the regulation of one category of intoxicating, mind bending, substances.
There exists a formal global prohibition regime, but to date there is no global criminal justice system to meet the challenge of drug trafficking and globalized crime. Although formal regime control and design are with the United Nations, execution and dedication of control efforts are in the hand of governments and state agencies of individual nation-states.
In spite of formal compliance to the predispositions of the prohibition regime, in practice, the strategies and tactics for its enforcement are broadly disputed. Historically the conception of the 'drug problem' has been subject to dramatic transformations. Fiscal, balance of payments, civic security, public health, social welfare and moral considerations can be found as determining the main diagnosis of the problem. Within and between societies the conception of the problem and the discourses guiding government intervention in the drug industry vary widely, over time and in geographic space. The multi-dimensionality of the drug problem makes it a very complex policy field. With prohibition in place, repression still is no panacea.
It was only after their dependencies gained independence that the major european powers dissolved their colonial monopolies on the opium trade. Prohibition also met with fierce resistance from the pharmaceutical industries in Germany, Japan and Switzerland. These were often shielded by state interests in the preparation for war, in which the secured supply of anaesthetics plays an important role. Coaxing governments into compliance with prohibition has been, and still is, an arduous process.
From the beginning it has been the United States to take the lead in building the prohibition regime. Especially since the 1980s, unilateral, bilateral and multilateral forms of pressure, intervention and collaboration are proliferating to force governments to comply with prohibition and to stifle the growth of the drug economy. Conditional development aid, extradition treaties (so called International Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties), new types of financial policing to 'chase the money' around the international banking system, financing and advising foreign military and police, political pressure and even outright military intervention count among the plethora of instruments applied in the relations between states in this war on drugs. In the process, institutional structures (e.g. Interpol, Europol, UNDCP) are strengthened to intensify international cooperation. Besides that, many informal structures have developed between police, military and intelligence agencies. Many of these are not new. Before the end of the Cold War, countries like France and the United States had extensive programmes for the assistance of foreign military and police forces. Nowadays, however, such programmes are legitimized by the supposed need to strengthen other state's capabilities to fight the drug industry. Since the mid 1980s, through the process of European integration, also the European Union is asserting itself as a major player in the field.
The internationalizing powers to enforce the prohibition regime are largely legitimized and rationalized by interdependencies that derive from the global division of labour in the illegal drug industry and the concomitant problems this presents to individual states to control the drug industry. But forthcoming interdependency does not necessarily mean greater integration (collaboration and harmonization). Interdependency can possibly also mean 'dependency', 'exploitation', 'free riding' and 'conflict'. International law enforcement instruments, are unevenly distributed, and include the exchange of information between law enforcers, international pressures on countries to shape their legislative body (for example, the closure of coffee shops and the lifting of bank secrecy), the provision of military aid and advisors (an important element of the American efforts in Latin America), or the extension of 'intelligence' gathering by foreign stationed liaison officers. The control over these instruments ultimately touches on the control that countries have over their economies and political system, and on the control people have over their privacy and sovereignty.
The strategies and tactic applied by governments in their drug policies do not only touch upon very different conceptions of 'the drug problem', they also affect the distribution of income within and between societies, and the level of protection that citizens can attain .
Interventions in drug markets influence the direction, composition and volume of drug streams over the world, and of the flows of money that are generated in this international business. They thereby touch upon the distribution of wealth that can be accumulated in the drug business, and on the relative power of actors within and between societies.
Drug interests are strong enough to create powers that can play a major role in political life and in economic activities. Where many people depend on the drug industry for their income, and where the overall economy is dependent on the influx of foreign currencies from the drug trade, such drug interests, and concrete efforts of drug entrepreneurs to protect their trade, severely limit the margins for governments to deal with the drug industry. Moreover, enhanced drug repression also strengthens coercive and other powers within state apparatuses relative to each other and the society at large. Drug policies therefore also have an impact on the distribution of power and security in and between countries. On the one hand, they can limit the destabilizing effect of the drug industry on society. On the other hand, enhancing the resources and legal powers of a state's security forces possibly also limits the sovereignty of individuals, peoples and countries, and therewith the level of freedom, democracy and human rights they can enjoy.
Drug repression therewith also attains an important political dimension. From the perspective of the ruling elites, it is of concern to prevent power contending ethnic, political or clan associations to use the drug proceeds for building their own power structure. In such a situation, they may have little choice but to gain control over the business themselves, or at least find a way of incorporating such new dynamic sectors into the existing power structure. Drug repression would, in many cases, only strengthen the opposition, as it would leave a good share of the population without means of support.
Domestic and foreign drug policies thus touch upon the distribution of power, wealth and security, both within a country and between societies. These interests are informing if not imposing a specific logic on many a state's policies and practices, and lead to systemic interactions between the upper and the underworld, that play a (decisive) role in deepening their perverse impact on the relations among states and between states and their societies. The phenomenon of 'protected trafficking' here enters the picture, where selective suppression and protection of the drug industry becomes a more likely outcome of drug policies.
Criminal groups and criminally obtained resources often are a deviant element in national and international dynamics of politics. Illegal violence and authorized force used illegitimately to serve the purpose of one class, clan, ethnic group region or country against the other is no new phenomenon. It is however strongly related to the dynamics and consequences of the growth of drugs markets and state policies to control them. In many countries it is exactly the association of criminal groups with power elites that produces and prolongs such perverse consequences. In recent history of both industrialized (e.g. France, the United States and Italy) and developing countries (e.g. Turkey, South Africa, Colombia, Mexico) many examples can be found of cooperation between secret services, political parties and other elite power groups with -drug trafficking- criminal groups in the repression of domestic opposition, the destabilization of foreign governments, and the support against (geo)-political foes. Equally, many opposition groups have discovered how important drug income can be to withstand (foreign) control over their territories (e.g. PKK in Turkey, Shining Path in Peru, and the Afghan mudjaheddin).
Such symbiotic relations between drug entrepreneurs and local, national or foreign power elites are often amended by forms of corruption of a more or less institutional nature. The price increase effect of prohibition works effectively as a tax, that however does not flow straight into the coffins of the state treasury, but is collected by the producers, traffickers and other services in the trade. In many countries, a prohibition tax is however equally levied by 'corrupt' enforcement officers and other protectors of the trade within the politico-administrative system. Such state induced extortion, or bribing, of the trade is however not only an activity for private gain (supplementing salaries). In fact, various systems exists that provide for the distribution of such rents within hierarchical networks, through which such money flows. In return they facilitate exchange in prohibited markets. Bribery can be a primary method of public finance, alongside taxation, borrowing and inflation. From that perspective, it should be less of a surprise to find police officials actively involved in the management and maintenance of the black-market monopolies. Through their relations with drug entrepreneurs, police officers (and other state protectors) become responsive to the monopolist. This may lead them to act against new entrants or third parties in the pursuit of maintaining the monopoly and its profits.
Such symbiotic relations are often an outcome of law enforcement tactics, where drug enforcement agencies infiltrate trafficking rings, and set up front stores to provide services to the drug industry. The 'War on Drugs' is in many countries literally running out of control. A severe crisis upset the Dutch police and juridical system, as it turned out that the methods used by police agencies in their criminal investigations on drug traffickers had to a large extent devolved beyond the juridical boundaries and parliamentary control. The Dutch parliamentary commission that investigated these methods in 1996 found for example that 285 tons of drugs had been imported by the Dutch police, of which 100 tons had disappeared on the market
The opportunities for bribery and outright extortion, facilitated by the outlaw position of drug entrepreneurs, constitute an important incentive for the escalation of the drug war. In a more formalized way, asset seizure laws have had the same resultIn fact, the self-financing of police forces is now also actively propagated by Pino Arlacci, director of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention.
What if we loose
The narcotics industry has, to a greater or lesser extent, become economically and socially entrenched in almost every country in the world. Drug related interests have permeated many sectors of society, sectors that often function in the formal economy, but derive part of their income from activities connected to the drug trade. Few sectors remain untouched by the drug industry, as drug proceeds are consumed and invested in other enterprises, or as for example banks and transport companies provide services to the drug industry, and so become part of the drug industry themselves. The drug industry is to varying degrees also socially embedded in many countries. Drug consumption is culturally rooted in certainly not only the most marginalized sectors of the population. Furthermore, drug entrepreneurs increasingly establish themselves as a social force that seeks integration in the formal institutions of the societies in which they live and operate. They thereby often gain if not the respectability than at least some leverage to protect their interests. The income and employment the industry generates, for a multiplicity of actors and societies at large, also does not fail to provide political clout to drug related interests, especially when threatened by foreign or domestic repression efforts. Prohibition, however, severely hampers the formal incorporation of the drug industry through taxation, interest mediation and forms of market, labor and product regulation. From consequential partial, informal, or denied integration, it is my contention, derive many of the most harmful consequences of the industries operations, much more so since police and military institutions are ill equipped to perform these regulatory roles.
As both the drug industry and drug law enforcement are internationalizing, they put severe strains on the possibilities of the state to incorporate the drug industry in local and domestic arrangements, that could limit their destabilizing effects on society. Such a strategy, if applied, and many countries can not escape such a choice, either by informal arrangements or through 'corruption', is however becoming less feasible where the power of organized crime and pressures for intensified law enforcement upset such symbiotic relations.
The drug industry and drug repression, certainly where they cross the border of other states, can therefore have very disruptive effects on domestic political-economic institutions and arrangements. This can come about merely as an unintended consequence of conscientious cross border supply reduction efforts. However, in many instances, drug policies are merely part of other foreign policy goals, and are to a large extent shaped by the institutional logic of agencies called in to implement them.
Recent history has shown that, rightly, much more calculation tends to play a role in supply side policies than zealous supply reduction. Such policies also take into account the interests involved in drug trafficking, and the capabilities of governments to offset the pressure put on these interest by efforts to stifle the drug economy (for example crop substitution projects carried out by the United Nations that aim to provide drug farmers with an alternative source of income, or the provision of arms to the Colombian military). As soon as drug policies become part of broader policy goals towards other countries they are however likely to be subordinated to other priorities that states pursue to protect their national interests.
Just as war is the continuation of politics by other means, so the 'War on Drugs' has become an extension of foreign policy by other means. International drug policies almost inescapably become enmeshed with geo-political and economic considerations. So also, enhancing powers of specific law enforcers, like, in an extreme case, the military in Peru or Colombia, is likely to serve interest quite different from convincing coca growers to limit their output. In the most brutal form, international drug law enforcement can legitimize outright military intervention, as the Panamanians experienced in the late 1980s.
In the foregoing paragraphs I have built an analytical framework to study the underlying dynamics, outcomes and consequences of the War on Drugs. Thereby I tried to show how the growth of global networks of crime and the internationalization of law enforcement are shaped by some fundamental changes in the global political and economic system. I also focused on how the 'War on Drugs' is likely to be subverted by interests of both drug entrepreneurs and of the powers that are called in to control the drug industry. Through their symbiotic and systemic interactions they are the most likely beneficiaries of this war.
As their interactions take place in a competitive world, with unevenly distributed resources, the outcomes of their interactions are also likely to impinge unevenly on different societies and groups within them. The criminal system permeates the political and economic system, undermining the functioning of legal industries and the role and functioning of the state. The extension of states' coercive powers to 'control' the drug industry also impinges heavily on the distribution of power, wealth and security within and between societies, often through practices that escape democratic control. The destructive force of the intertwined dynamics of the drug industry and state repression is thereby likely to demolish the existing relations between states, markets, and societies. Therewith, the underlying dynamics and outcomes of the drug war are not only shaped by, but also reshaping the fundamental structures of the worlds' political-economy.
One facet of civil-military relations is budget allocations for military operations. In a democratic state this usually involves some form of legislature approval and accountability. It is therefore unusual to note that in none of the NATO countries budgets or statements on defence allocations is there a mention of the war against drugs as constituting a proportion of financial, manpower or equipment allocation. Hence it is a major conflict that remains unresolved, has a large annual un-official budget, involves specialist military training, is both internal and external to a state, has not had a declaration of war yet is classified as a war, yet poses a grave threat to many national-security interests based on its subversive influences to society as a whole. Similarly on the other side, that of the drug producers and traders there is no indication of the budget allocated towards armaments. Observations of Drugs Cartels and Warlords show that the majority of manpower and weaponary is used for the direct protection of individuals high in the organisations. Weaponary throughout is light arms. The War against Drugs is therefore a Lights Arms non-Conventional War waged on a low intensity but prolonged basis. It is a War of Attrition that combines social elements within the state and border protection against infiltration of smugglers. It is combined with actions against human trade and other types of smuggling such as diamonds. It is war against crime !
In this to be blunt, I believe that the 'War on Drugs' is lost, but the struggle continues for the sake of justifieng an increasing expenditure on education and health schemes within states. In spite of ever increasing resources dedicated to the reduction of supply and demand of illicit drugs, consumption levels are still rising all over the world. The drug industry is probably the largest and most profitable sector of international crime. The perceived threats of drug consumption and organized crime provide the main justifications for important impulses given in recent years to the development of legislation and the organization of law enforcement. Drug repression thereby increasingly acquires an international character. Unilateral, bilateral and multilateral forms of pressure, intervention and collaboration are proliferating between states in the name of suffocating the ever swelling drug economy. The prohibition regime is thereby, in a rapid pace, extended with the coercive powers of states to intervene in national and international drug markets, but therewith also in the sovereignty of individuals, peoples and countries.
The war against drugs is lost because just as individuals might get addicted to the use of drugs, so the societies in which they live are becoming addicted to the money that is generated in the drug business. This seems to be equally true for the agencies that are assigned the task to control it. The existence of state agencies to fight the drugs war depends on the continued trafficking of drugs. The war against drugs is therefore provides employment to tends of thousands of officials world-wide.
In a similar fashion war against drugs cannot be won, at least not by the state, as long as demand for illicit drugs exists. Instead of keeping drug trafficking and organized crime in check, supply repression is likely to increase the profits of illegal entrepreneurs and to give incentives to the professionalization of their organizations. Repression induced scarcity inflates the price of the merchandise; consequently more people will be attracted to take the risk and enter the business. When governments enhance their efforts to repress the drug industry, remaining drug entrepreneurs will re-organize their activities so as to limit the risk of detection and prosecution.
Supply reduction therefore seems a dead end strategy, as it is likely to produce little but counterproductive effects on the supply of illicit drugs and on the organizational strength of the trafficker networks it attacks. There are, nevertheless, many other regulative functions for the police and other state agencies that might merit their intervention in controlling the problems related to drug trafficking/ distribution and drug use. Such problems are basically related to issues of public health and public order. Ultimately, policies aimed at supply reduction must -at least in accordance with official policy goals- be judged by how they affect consumer demand; through the decreased availability of drugs, through an increase in price or through the deterrent effect of the criminal law. This picture is rather bleak. To understand the perverse dynamics of both the booming drug industry and of proliferating state powers to control it, it is my contention that more attention should be given to the political and economic interests related to both the drug economy and its control, rather than the military. The war against drugs is more a civil operation than a military operation. Equally, the intertwined symbiotic and systemic interactions of the upper and the underworld, which take shape in the international political economy, need to be more closely scrutinized, rather than the dispatch of military forces without a clear doctrine.
Society don't Care
Earlier in this paper I made mention of a phrase "society dont care." It would be foolhardy not to elaborate on exactly what this means, considering that civil-military relations is inter alia "...the relation between the armed forces as a whole and society as a whole...". The crux of the issue is the levels at which civil-military relations exist. If "society dont care" about the social ills that drugs are creating then what is the societal/popular legitimacy of the armed forces in the war against drugs. The first level is focused on specific issues and key individuals and is transitory in nature. The second level deals with the enduring questions with essential values. At the latter level individuals merely represent the issues. Two questions are therefore addressed in the War against Drugs: What is the appropriate level of involvement of the military in national security policy-making? and Within that context, with what or whom does an officer's ultimate loyalty lie? In both the objective of civil-military relations is a competent, professional military able to contribute to national security policy making but not to dominate it, but there is no consensus on the changes that the evolution of the global security environment will bring, or on the risks of too much military involvement in policy making.
The first level is therefore a focus on drug trafficking as a root cause of crime and violence in the society of any nation. The diffusion of responsibility among local, state, and international law and enforcement and military jurisdictions works to the advantage of criminal groups. Major criminal conspiracies almost invariably span jurisdictional boundaries to the extent that two or more local or state jurisdictions may be required to respond to the same offense or offenders. The key to dealing with drug supply, is therefore an intangible: political will, which is civil and not military. The best_trained, best_equipped anti_drug units cannot succeed for long without the determined commitment of their country's political authorities to take the often painful measures that can mortally wound the drug trade. Where political leaders have had the courage to put the long_term national interest ahead of short_term economic and political considerations, we have seen the drug trade suffer. And where they have compromised, we have seen the drug syndicates prosper accordingly. Drug organizations learned long ago that where political will is weak it can establish a profitable and insidious modus vivendi with a government. In potentially unstable political and economic circumstances, political leaders at many levels may be tempted to negotiate an informal pax narcotica. In return for the benefits of large immediate cash flows into the economy (or into their political coffers), they confine their counternarcotics operations to sectors least likely to trigger a backlash from drug interests. For instance, the government of a major drug cultivation country can focus on interdiction rather than eradication. The authorities in a major drug refining country can eradicate crops yet permit drug syndicates to prosper by exploiting corrupt enforcement and timid judicial systems. Governments of offshore financial centers may crack down on trafficking, while profiting from drug revenues protected by bank secrecy and lax laws that facilitate money laundering. In all cases, the short_term political peace or personal prosperity that corrupt politicians enjoy only allow drug interests to dig in for the long term. Therefore, a basic tenet of antidrug policy is to strengthen political will in the principal drug producing and transit countries by preventing drug interests from becoming entrenched. When that occurs, corruption inevitably follows. And we have seen that large_scale corruption, by vitiating the rule of law, soon places democratic government in jeopardy.
The fight against the drug trade is really part of a broader struggle against corruption. Like an opportunistic disease that breeds only amidst social and moral decay, the drug trade needs corruption in order to flourish. Drug organizations wield a powerful instrument for corrupting an already weak society: money. In terms of weight and availability, there is currently no commodity more lucrative than drugs. They are relatively cheap to produce and offer enormous profit margins that allow the drug trade to generate criminal revenues on a scale without historical precedent. In many ways, it makes drugs traffickers a greater threat to democratic government than most insurgent movements. Guerrilla armies or terrorist organizations seek to topple governments by force; drug syndicates, like termites, destroy them quietly from within. In theory, when a country's interior or defense minister, attorney general, or even president, is on its payroll, the drug trade can assure itself a secure operating environment. And the longer established the drug organization, the stronger its capacity to corrupt. In such circumstances what is the role of the military ?
The only real answer is that of Population Control. One of the traditional and obvious ways of controlling people in every society, whether it's a military dictatorship or a democracy, is to frighten them. If people are frightened, they'll be willing cede authority to their superiors who will protect them: "OK, I'll let you run my life in order to protect me," that sort of reasoning. So the fear of drugs and the fear of crime is very much stimulated by state and business propaganda. Fear of crime is far beyond other societies, and mostly stimulated by various propaganda. The Drug War is an effort to stimulate fear of dangerous people from who we have to protect ourselves. It is also, a direct form of control of what are called "dangerous classes," those superfluous people who don't really have a function contributing to profit-making and wealth. This can clearly be seen since 1968 when the US made the first public decleration of a "War on Drugs". The aim has always been to emphasise reducing the supply of illegal narcotics rather than addressing the demand for drugs. In 1971, three years after the first declared "war on drugs," President Richard Nixon took a crucial step toward militarization by proclaiming drug trafficking a national security threat. "Protecting the national security" has remained the rallying cry for providing more money and firepower to wage the war on drugs. Since the 1970s, U.S. spending on the drug war has risen from less than $1 billion to more than $16 billion annually. In the early 1980s, President Ronald Reagan raised the curtain on a rapid expansion of U.S. anti-drug efforts that continues unabated today. Reagan justified the expansion, in part, by developing the narco-guerrilla theory, which bolstered the national security rationale by positing ties between the Colombian cartels and Cuba, leftist guerrillas in Colombia, and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.
The purported guerrilla-drug link has also been used to legitimize the approach the Pentagon has taken in carrying out its anti-drug mission in Latin America, the source of all cocaine and an increasingly large amount of the heroin that enters the United States. Shifting the Pentagon's posture in the region from the cold war to the drug war was easy because the new enemy included many old foes, allowing U.S. military personnel to employ the same tactics that they had used in fighting communism.
The National Defense Authorization Act of 1989 designated the Pentagon as the "single lead agency" for the detection and monitoring of illicit drug shipments into the United States. Soon after, President George Bush announced his Andean Initiative, a $2.2 billion, five-year plan to stop the cocaine trade at its source. Although U.S. military personnel had been involved in training, equipping, and transporting foreign anti-narcotics personnel since the early 1980s, the Andean strategy opened the door to a dramatic expansion of this role and to a significant infusion of U.S. assistance to police and military forces in the region.
The Andean Initiative placed the spotlight on Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia. Yet the vast majority of the Pentagon's international drug spending still went to detection and monitoring operations in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico transit zones, the cost of which, according to a September 1993 General Accounting Office report, eventually swelled "out of proportion to the benefits it provided."
In late 1993, President Clinton shifted the emphasis of military operations, at least in terms of energy, if not spending, from interdicting cocaine as it moved through the transit zones into the U.S to dismantling the so-called "air bridge" that connects coca growers and coca paste manufacturers in Peru and Bolivia with Colombian refiners and distributors. As a result, drug traffickers quickly abandoned air routes in favor of the region's labyrinth of waterways. The Pentagon responded by supporting interdiction operations that target the waterways in both source countries and neighboring nations.
Today, the vast majority of Washington's international anti-narcotics spending goes to Latin America and the Caribbean, where thousands of U.S. troops are annually deployed in support of the drug war, operating ground-based radar, flying monitoring aircraft, providing operation and intelligence support, and training host-nation security forces. Despite this militarization and the massive funding for Washington's drug war, illegal drugs still flood the United States. In fact, illegal drugs are more readily available now, at a higher purity and lower cost, than they were when the drug war was launched.
Current U.S. policymakers apparently believe that local militaries are their most capable and reliable allies in the war on drugs. Throughout Latin America, the resources and training that Washington provides to local armed forces in order to support their new role in domestic drug control operations--often in circumvention of congressional restrictions and oversight--are eroding the efforts of civilian-elected governments to consolidate their power.
Although counternarcotics operations are a law enforcement function reserved in most democracies for civilian police, the U.S. prefers to use military forces. When Washington does recruit police, it provides them with heavy arms and with training in combat tactics that are inappropriate for the role that police should play in a civilian society, thereby continuing to fuel human rights abuses. During the 1970s, Congress halted police aid programs because of widespread human rights abuses by U.S.-trained police in Latin America, but in the 1980s these programs resumed in Central America and have since spread to many other countries.
The militarization of counternarcotics efforts in Latin America not only undermines efforts to promote human rights and democracy, it also threatens regional security. In Colombia, where the line between fighting drug trafficking and combating insurgents is blurred, Washington risks becoming mired in the hemisphere's longest-running guerrilla war, possibly widening that conflict into neighboring countries. Citing the threat posed by Colombia's guerrillas, who earn much of their income by protecting coca and poppy fields and clandestine drug laboratories, the Pentagon has already expanded its operations in Ecuador and Venezuela.
Addiction to drugs represents a major individual, socioceconomic and politcal problem of the industrialised world. Health costs to the individual include those related to consequent physical illness and to the causation, aggrevation, and/or maintainance of poor mental health. Similarly its impact on societal health encompasses the psychological and monetary costs of any endemic disease 4 , but with additional problematic para-narcotic phenomena of violent crime, exploitation and the costs of international policing. In testimony to such dominant concerns, the war on drugs represents a high profile political operation being waged at many frontiers. That the huge human and economic input into tackling these problems has however yet failed to make a noticeable impact, in terms of traffiking, individual consumption, and not least medical treatment, is perhaps partially indicative as to the complexities faced when pathologising and crimiminalisng what some theorists have dubbed a universal human concern or at the least a predictable response to social disempowerment.
The 'War on Drugs' is so in many respects taking over the functions of the Cold War, in legitimizing the coercive use of state powers to foster internal order and discipline, but also in setting up control mechanisms to defend the state and society against external threats, at home and abroad. The internationalization of police cooperation and the concomitant proliferation of tools to intervene in the sovereignty of individuals, peoples and foreign countries is, however, highly liable to decrease the prospect of a world order in which peace, justice and freedom could develop.
This is mainly due to the uneven distribution of the powers unleashed by the International Drug Complex. One the one hand, the globalizing forces of for instance crime, monetary volatility, and migration decrease the possibilities to protect the state and the social arrangements that support it. The increasing overlap this brings about between internal and external security concerns, are likely to lead the formal goals of the drug war to be overruled by geo-political and economic concerns. The coercive powers of states that are called in to maintain internal order and external security, to a large extent, tend to escape democratic control, as their 'operational information' needs to be shielded from the outside world. Diminishing accountability goes hand in hand with the increased powers assigned to coercive state agencies.
More than this threat of free floating state power, it is however the subversive impact of international criminal organizations that undermines the very basis of the state and the societies they preside over. If indeed also law enforcement directed against the drug industry is counterproductive, and there above serves quite different political goals, this leaves us with a less than gloomy perspective for the future development and democratization of our societies.
Since the end of the Cold War, the 'New World Order', established under conditions of increased globalization and underwritten by neo-liberal reforms, is to a large extent shaped by two forces: the visible hand of criminal forms of market control and the extension of the strong arm of the law in the national and international domain. These two forces of repression and subversion increasingly show the tendency to squeeze the populations of entire societies into a spiralling anarchy, endangering the constitutional state, and the living conditions of its citizens. Both sides of the law, although formally opposed to each other, in fact enhance each others growth and therewith their impact on the rest of society. In their mutual (systemic) interactions they permeate societies with a logic reminiscent of the way in which, during the Cold War, the two antagonistic superpowers and their military-industrial complexes on the one hand fostered the control over their spheres of influence, and on the other hand incapacitated their populations to counter the pressures of vested interests in a spiralling arms race that enhanced the income, prestige and power of military establishments and the profits of weapons industries that fed the threat of war.
The two worlds of criminal entrepreneurs and of the coercive agencies of states are however not separated by geographical boundaries, nor are they separated from the societies in which they function. As both increasingly attain transnational dimensions they become more disposed to prevent themselves from being incorporated into society and, thereby, from being subordinated to democratic control. At the same time they increase their powers to penetrate in the sovereignty of individuals and that of entire societies over the globe.
Diplomacy should commence on the drugs war. A diplomatic debate should start with a cold-blooded evaluation of what has worked and what has failed. Talks could then move on to examining ways in which market and price mechanisms can be brought to bear on the drug business in order to make it less lucrative, and so to align its relative prices with those of other goods - which would reduce the trade's propensity to engender corruption. Finally, the legal implications of such market mechanisms should be examined. In the end, legalization of certain substances may be the only way to bring prices down, and doing so may be the only remedy to some of the worst aspects of the drug plague violence, corruption and the collapse of the rule of law. To many in the United States, for good reasons and bad, legalization remains anathema; but its costs and benefits must be assessed in the light of the pernicious, hypocritical and dysfunctional status quo. Using present tactics, the war on drugs is being lost; it is long past time to reassess a failed policy.
The problem is ongoing. One only has to look in the Economist, 4-10 March 2000, to see that the US Congress is debating an administration request for more aid, which would take total American assistance to Colombia to $1.6 billion over the next two years to assist in the drugs war. The domino effect voiced during Vietnam years is once again rearing its head. Columbia is out of control. Instability will spread to neighbouring countries. The NATO PFP proposals are also being voiced in the civil-military relations of the drugs war, namely, strong democractic regimes are needed to obtain peace in the drugs war. It seems, however, that we are set for the worlds longest war. Stopping the production at its sources has been ongoing for decades and will continue to do so. The reason is elementary: demand calls forth supply. The narcotics war and civil-military relations has to turn to the society side to achieve victory: combat demand ! .
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