Drug War Winners and Losers
Drug War Capitalism (Book Review)

Young, Kevin (Reviewer); Paley, Dawn (Author)
Date Written:  2015-07-01
Publisher:  Against the Current
Year Published:  2015
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21234

State officials are portrayed as wholly separate from criminal groups. To the contrary, Paley shows that the worlds of state officials, large business interests and drug lords are in fact thoroughly integrated. Far from being inimical to business investment and the modern state, illicit drug economies and drug-related violence are simply a part of capitalism-as-usual.



Drug War Capitalism is a much-needed analysis of how both the drug trade and the "war on drugs" help advance the interests of capitalist and state elites. Still, the book does seem to leave several questions inadequately explored.

First, the motivations behind state policymaking deserve further analysis. On the U.S. side, a more thorough review of government documents might have strengthened the book's argument that capitalist motives help shape military and counternarcotics policy toward Latin America.

Some policy documents suggest an additional, related motive of U.S. military aid, one not analyzed in the book: to counter the influence of left-leaning governments. This geopolitical goal has helped shape U.S. drug policies in the past, leading Washington at times to fund military buildups in friendly states and at other times to directly abet narcotraffickers - for example, when the Reagan administration supported the crack cocaine trafficking of the Contra terrorist forces seeking to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

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