Academic journal article IUP Journal of International Relations

'State' versus 'Market' in the 'Golden Triangle': Drug Trafficking and State Policy

Academic journal article IUP Journal of International Relations

'State' versus 'Market' in the 'Golden Triangle': Drug Trafficking and State Policy

Article excerpt

Hardcore, data-based analysis and academic research regarding 'Illicit Drug' of Southeast Asia, emanating from the infamous 'Golden Triangle', always focus on the causes or the factors responsible for the generation of illicit drug in the Golden Triangle region, and the subsequent policies accepted by the neighboring or bordering countries to eradicate it. Rightly, it has also been argued that the penetration of the illicit drug is like a slow poison, which, if and when it spreads, will not only cause a massive structural upheaval of the human society, but also change the social-demographic situation of the region at large. Conversely, this paper argues that since the advent of globalization, the agenda-based policies followed by the 'nation-state' are more market-centric and hence predetermined. Thus, in the words of Susan Strange, states are today more 'market-driven'. In this situation of a market-driven Lockean state system, the sustenance of the flow of illicit drugs is in itself a determinant of the survival of some states. Therefore, 'eradication' policy, as per the direction of the UN and other international players, will neither be successful nor will it be allowed to succeed. This brings in the structural power of the market as the live idea of 'illicit drug' and 'combat methodology', and the subsequent financial inflow from the assisting countries serves both the host and the donor. They are part of the problem as well as the solution.

Powerful private interests are in a strong position to set the agenda and become the primary beneficiaries of the globalization process, imposing the substantial costs of risk on others. This would matter little if it were not for the enormity of the stake for state and their societies at large. The metamorphosis of a series of closed, cartelized, nationally controlled and often segmented financial systems into a transnational/y desegmented and marketized space characterized by a high degree of capital volatility and mobility is one of the great and unplanned transformations of the twentieth century.

- Geoffrey Underhill (1977), p. 42

...The growing links between international terrorism and other forms of transnational organized crime require the strengthening of international cooperation. Among the major problems the international community still faces is the lack of harmony and even incompatibility among national legal systems and also between systems and international agreements that are intended to provide international criminal justice cooperation mechanisms. This has slowed down and in some cases prevented international cooperation, while providing transnational criminals and international terrorists with opportunities to exploit those differences to their advantage...1


The four basics, 'wealth, order, justice and freedom', combine to create the notion of political economy, according to Susan Strange2, which in its turn exhibits the 'question of power and authority' within a nation state. That in itself also spills over and gets manifested in a particular given region and the world at large. It is important to understand the political bargains that are struck to gain economic policies and benefits. Illegal drug, or as popularly called 'narcotics', has been a cause for concern in the world since the emergence of its trade, generating unprecedented huge amount of 'wealth' within a given region. Going by the above hypothesis of Susan Strange, and other arguments of Susan Strange, it can be argued that due to the nature of the wealth being 'unprecedently high', the balance of the 'authority' and the 'market' is tilted heavily towards the market and not otherwise.

Asia has a long history of dealing with psychoactive substances. Many of them have existed from time immemorial all over the continent. Various places have established traditional uses for some drugs and even integrated them into social codes. However, the illicit drug situation of the present day in Asia threatens the health and safety of its population as well as the stability of its countries. …

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