learning with professionals - Higgins Counterterrorism Research ...


learning with professionals - Higgins Counterterrorism Research ...

cally areas which lack significant, legitimate demands for labor, and where drug trafficking

offers at least a reasonable expectation of making more money than any other pursuit.

In poverty-stricken regions, people need only believe they can acquire more money than

any alternative livelihood offers for the drug trafficking industry to gain wide and willing

support. Narco-mercantilists enjoy the advantage that their profit margin from the production

to consumption area is so great that they can outbid any competitor for labor

resources and popular support, and still expect to accumulate the huge personal wealth

narco-mercantilism promises.

While some governments in nations where drug traffickers operate have tolerated, or

even supported drug trafficking industries, the latter remain privately dominated enterprises?

586 A result of this private wealth has been the steady rise of a select class of

international criminal entrepreneurs with resources that permit them to rival, or even

surpass, the capabilities of the governments in nominal control over their base areas.

History already offers several examples of non-state actors challenging the power governments

for their own ends. The wealth and pursuits of the Knights Templars set them

at odds with the French king, who reigned, but was chronically short of money. The

Hanseatic League, prosperous by dint of its trade empire, exercised sweeping authority

over a large region of northern Europe for centuries. In a more recent example, British

policy India was largely dominated by the mercantile interests of the British East India

Company, a commercial empire that outfitted and deployed its own army and fleet to

protect Company interests. Where narco-mercantilists have gained power, they have in

some cases established predominance in regions of strategic importance to the security

interests of the United States. Such non-governmental competitors for local power often

defy failing governments, thereby frustrating regional security goals and keeping large

areas mired in chaos and poverty.

At the Dawn of the new millennium, the United States is at war with these drug traffickers.

It has, in fact, been involved in a lingering war since 1973, with the intensity of

the struggle waxing and waning during its long history. The conflict has entailed war

without borders, without clearly identifiable enemies, devoid of well-defined objectives,

and ultimately without victory. Such is the “national war on drugs.” Vaguely identified

by this phrase, the conflict has retained an amorphous quality since its inception

during the Nixon administration. Lack of clarity about national objectives and the

nature of the task at hand has been a major factor in producing the perpetual climate of

failure haunting this critical national effort. While failures in this endeavor are evident,

since drug traffickers are still smuggling tons of their products around the world and

continue to reap enormous profits, these have been in the areas on which critics gener-

586 Among the best sources for specific information regarding the association of individual nations and drug

trafficking over the last twenty years that readers should consult for further data are two unclassified, annual

U.S. government reports: The International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), published by the

Department of State; and the National Narcotics Intelligence Consumers Committee (NNICC) Report, The Supply

of illicit Drugs To The United States, published by the Drug Enforcement Administration. These documents

are widely employed throughout the Federal counterdrug community and are two of the most important sources

for the state of international drug trafficking over time.


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