Posted on 23 Oct 2009
With the great increases in insecurity in Afghanistan and the overwhelming sense that the counter‐insurgency in Afghanistan is not being won, analysts and policymakers are looking for analogies to understand the conflict’s dynamics and devise counter‐measures. One of the analogies that analysts are turning to is the counter‐narcotics and counter‐insurgency campaign in Colombia. Indeed, there are some striking similarities between the FARC and its relationship to the drug economy in Colombia and the Taliban and its relationship to the drug economy in Afghanistan. However, these similarities do not lie in what many consider the defining characteristic of the FARC, namely the loss of ideology and its transformation into a pure profit‐driven organisation. Rather, from the point of view of counter‐insurgency and the drug‐conflict‐nexus, the ideology‐versus‐greed debate is of far less importance than is frequently believed. Whatever their ideologies and the intensity of their beliefs, both the FARC and the Taliban are deriving not only substantial financial resources from the drug trade, but also substantial political capital. And this political capital is nonetheless greatly enhanced by government policies of eradicating the drug crops, which therefore is counterproductive for counter‐insurgency objectives.