From Cold War geopolitics to post-Cold War geonarcotics From Cold War geopolitics to post-Cold War geonarcotics

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    From Cold War geopolitics to post-Cold War geonarcotics

    The dramatic transformations in world politics occasioned

    mainly by the collapse of world communism and the concomi-

    tant end of the Cold War oblige scholars to assess the factors

    that precipitated the changes and to ponder the implications of

    the 'new' world order emerging from them. While neither

    scholars nor statesmen are clear about what the transformations

    portend, most are nevertheless convinced that this new order

    brings new challenges and opportunities, new threats and coun-

    termeasures, and structural and functional alterations at the regional and international levels that require new conceptual

    and theoretical explorations.

    Geoffrey Kemp rightly suggests that geopolitics - a long-

    standing component of Cold War international political analysis - while not dead, will have to share the spotlight with other items on the international agenda.' And Edward Luttwak is con-

    vinced that the new agenda will be dominated by geo-econom-

    ics: 'As the relevance of military threats and military alliances wanes, geo-economic priorities and modalities are becoming

    Department of Political Science, Florida International University, Miami; edi- tor of Strategy and Security in the Caribbean (199 i) and author of The Quest for Security in the Caribbean (1993). This article is part of a larger study, Sovereignty under Seige, funded by the MacArthur Foundation and the North-South Center, University of Miami. The author is grateful for assistance provided by Donna Kirchheimer and by Shauna Jamieson, his research assistant. Thanks also to Clifford E. Griffin and Howard H. Lentner for helpful comments on an earlier version.

    I Geoffrey Kemp, 'Regional security, arms control, and the end of the Cold War,' Washington Quarterly 13(autumn 1990), 44.

    International Journal XLIX WINTER 1993-4


    dominant in state action."' Another 'geo' is, however, becoming prominent in the post-Cold War political landscape. It is geonar- cotics, defined here to mean relations of conflict and co-opera- tion among national and international actors that are driven by the narcotics phenomenon.

    Narcotics problems are presenting dilemmas to an increas- ing number of nations and states around the world. They are increasing in scope and intensity, and they have political, eco- nomic, military, health, environmental, and psychological con- sequences that offer actual and potential threats to the sovereignty, political stability, economic equilibrium, and social fabric of many societies. For these reasons, drugs are increas- ingly being discussed by scholars and policy-makers under the rubric of national security.

    However, for several reasons, including disagreement over the definition of security and the multidimensionality of the narcotics phenomenon, little attention is given to the concep- tual-theoretical basis for the drugs-security linkage. This article is a modest attempt to help fill this void. I will begin with a discussion of the nature and scope of the key narcotics opera- tions. An assessment of the concept of security and the realist paradigm on which it has been anchored follows. Finally, I will explain the nature of the challenges to which drug operations give rise and provide a preliminary outline of a framework for analysing the security aspects of drugs.


    Societies around the world face problems arising from the exis- tence of a variety of drugs. The list includes alcohol, ampheta- mines, tobacco, hashish, LSD, heroin, cocaine, morphine, marijuana, mescaline, barbiturates, and pCp. 3 However, not all

    2 Edward N. Luttwak, 'From geopolitics to geo-economics,' National Interest 20(summer 1990), 20.

    3 For an appreciation of the wide variety of drugs abused, see United States, Drug Enforcement Administration, Drugs of Abuse (Washington 1989), 1 1-52; and United Nations, Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 1992 (E/INCB/1992/I) (New York 1992), 17-48 (hereafter UNNarcotics Report).


    of these drugs create security concerns. The 'danger drugs' are mainly cocaine, hashish, heroin, and marijuana, and their deriv- atives such as crack which comes from cocaine. The main prob- lems relating to these drugs are production, consumption and abuse, trafficking, and money laundering.

    Drug operations are universal but not uniform among coun- tries. Nor is their impact uniform on the societies around the globe. Most of the world's cocaine is produced in Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru, with Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela providing lesser, but increasingly larger, quantities. Heroin comes from three major regions: the Golden Triangle countries of Myanmar (Burma), Laos, and Thailand; the Golden Crescent countries of Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan; and Mexico and Guatemala in Latin America. The most significant places for marijuana pro- duction are the United States, Mexico, Colombia, Jamaica, and Belize, although large quantities are also produced elsewhere in Latin America and in parts of Africa and Asia.4

    In terms of consumption, the United States is the world's

    single largest market for narcotics. As an analyst at the United States Congressional Research Service indicated in 1988: 'Amer- ica is consuming drugs at an annual rate of more than six metric tons (mt) of heroin, 70-90 mt of cocaine, and 6,ooo-9,ooo mt of marijuana - 8o% of which are imported. American demand therefore is the linchpin for one of the fastest-growing and most profitable industries in the world.'5 By 1993, however, State Department estimates placed consumption of cocaine alone at 150-175 metric tons, valued at US$1 5 -17 . 5 billion." It must,

    4 Scott B. MacDonald and Bruce Zagaris, 'Introduction: controlling the inter-

    national drug problem,' and Raphael F. Perl, 'The United States,' in Mac-

    Donald and Zagaris, eds, International Handbook on Drug Control (Westport CT:

    Greenwood 1992), 7-8 and 68-9; United States, Department of State, Bureau

    of International Narcotics Matters, International Narcotics Control Strategy Report

    (Washington, April 1993), 16 (hereafter INCSR).

    5 William Roy Surrett, The International Narcotics Trade: An Overview of its Dimen-

    sions, Production Sources, and Organizations, CRS report for Congress 88-643, 3

    October 1988, 1.

    6 INCSR, 3.


    however, be noted that high and growing narcotics consump- tion is not unique to the United States.

    Because of the high demand and profitability of the United States market, however, international trafficking is best appre- ciated when considered in relation to the United States as des- tination. South American cocaine traffickers, for instance, use a network involving Mexico, Brazil, Jamaica, Guyana, Belize, and the Bahamas, among other countries. Southwest Asian heroin comes through Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey. Malaysia, China, and Singapore are some of the main countries involved in the southeast Asian trade.

    The illegality and lucrativeness of drug production and traf- ficking necessitate another operation - money laundering. Drug operators need to control their money, conceal its origin and ownership, and convert and legitimize the fruits of their labour. Estimates of the quantity of money laundered internationally vary considerably, ranging between US$ 3 oo billion and US$5 oo billion annually.7 All regions of the world are involved, although some countries are implicated more than others. One source lists twenty-nine countries other than the United States as the world's major money launderers: Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Cay- man Islands, Colombia, C6te d'Ivoire, Ecuador, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Venezuela.8 Countries are implicated for varying reasons, and often for a combination of reasons. Factors include bank secrecy, corruption, limited and poorly trained enforcement resources, offshore banking oper- ations, and lax foreign exchange controls. Drug operators vary the places used and the sums laundered. In one instance, joint

    7 United States, Congress, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Drug Money Laundering, Banks, and Foreign Policy, Report by the Subcommittee on Narcot-

    ics, Terrorism, and International Operations, 1Olst Cong, 2nd sess, February 199

    o , 1; and United Nations, International Drug Control Program Information

    Letter, May 1993, 4.

    8 INCSR, 62.


    investigations by several countries revealed that the Cali and Medellin cartels of South America have conducted financial operations in some forty countries in Europe, Latin America, the United States, Africa, and Southeast Asia.9

    The international drug trade is a dynamic industry - strong, rich, and able to adapt to changing circumstances. Within it are

    some of the best financed, best armed, and most ruthless organ- izations in the world. Indeed, many analysts believe that inter- national drug operations have grown beyond a mere industry.

    Consider the following observation:

    The international narcotics industry is, in fact, not an industry at all,

    but an empire. Sovereign, proud, expansionist, this Underground Empire, though frequently torn by internal struggle, never fails to pres- ent a solid fro