Thursday, September 6, 2007
This news item about Turkish forces capturing a ton of hashish and almost 90 kilos of heroin supposedly belonging to the PKK reminded me of a section in Steven Metz's monograph, Rethinking Insurgency, where he discusses the relationship between insurgencies and organized crime (pp.29-30):
Insurgencies can evolve into criminal organizations. "Particularly in protracted conflicts," Cornell notes, "entire groups or parts of groups come to shift their focus increasingly toward the objective of profit." The best example is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Cornell again is instructive:
"Over time, insurgent groups tend to become increasingly involved in the drug trade. Beginning with tolerating and taxing the trade, insurgents tend to gradually shift to more lucrative self-involvement. Self-involvement, in turn, generates a risk of affecting insurgent motivational structures, tending to weaken ideological motivations and strengthen economic ones."
There's something comforting in the thought that eventually the profit motive will win out, and the Taliban and al-Qaeda will become little more than rival gangs of narco-traffickers targeted in the War on Drugs. Until, of course, you stop and consider how successful we've been in the War on Drugs.