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An analysis of the failure of U.S. counter-narcotics policy in the Afghanistan conflict from 2001 to 2009

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From 2001 to 2009, Afghanistan was the epicentre of drugs and violence in Central Asia. The vicious cycle of drugs, violence, and political instability highlights the disconnect that existed between United States (US) security and counter-drug operations in the country. This project explores how and why two American policies for intervention in Afghanistan – counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism/counter-insurgency – have been operationalized and implemented by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the US military respectively, in a disjointed and inefficient manner since 2001. It is argued that perceptions of the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the US created a “War on Terror” frame that shaped American intervention in Afghanistan, causing DEA counter-drug operations to be subordinated to the security and statebuilding goals of the adopted frame. The failure of the US Government to recognize this critical disconnect in CN and CTCI policy in Afghanistan has allowed both terrorism and opium poppies to thrive.
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