IVELAW L. GRIFFITH
From Cold War
to post-Cold War
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
2 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL
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.
NATURE AND SCOPE OF NARCOTICS OPERATIONS
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).
POST-COLD WAR GEONARCOTICS 3
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$1 5 -17 . 5 billion." It must,
4 Scott B. MacDonald and Bruce Zagaris, 'Introduction: controlling the inter-
national drug problem,' and Raphael F. Perl, 'The United States,' in Mac-
Donald and Zagaris, eds, International Handbook on Drug Control (Westport CT:
Greenwood 1992), 7-8 and 68-9; United States, Department of State, Bureau
of International Narcotics Matters, International Narcotics Control Strategy Report
(Washington, April 1993), 16 (hereafter INCSR).
5 William Roy Surrett, The International Narcotics Trade: An Overview of its Dimen-
sions, Production Sources, and Organizations, CRS report for Congress 88-643, 3
October 1988, 1.
6 INCSR, 3.
4 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL
however, be noted that high and growing narcotics consump-
tion is not unique to the United States.
Because of the high demand and profitability of the United
States market, however, international trafficking is best appre-
ciated when considered in relation to the United States as des-
tination. South American cocaine traffickers, for instance, use
a network involving Mexico, Brazil, Jamaica, Guyana, Belize, and
the Bahamas, among other countries. Southwest Asian heroin
comes through Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey. Malaysia,
China, and Singapore are some of the main countries involved
in the southeast Asian trade.
The illegality and lucrativeness of drug production and traf-
ficking necessitate another operation - money laundering. Drug
operators need to control their money, conceal its origin and
ownership, and convert and legitimize the fruits of their labour.
Estimates of the quantity of money laundered internationally
vary considerably, ranging between US$ 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
, 1; and United Nations, International Drug Control Program Information
Letter, May 1993, 4.
8 INCSR, 62.
POST-COLD WAR GEONARCOTICS 5
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