1932

Abstract

What is the relationship between psychoactive drugs and war? This review article identifies and traces five key dimensions of this relationship: war while on drugs, war for drugs, war through drugs, war against drugs, and drugs after war. The review provides empirical illustrations across times, places, and drugs to demonstrate the importance of each of these dimensions. Political scientists and other scholars have typically either ignored the drugs–war relationship or focused on only one dimension. The common tendency is to privilege illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin in the contemporary era over the historical centrality of legal drugs such as tobacco and alcohol in relation to armed conflict. Placing both history and a wider range of drugs (legal and illegal) front and center in the analysis provides a corrective that allows for a fuller and richer understanding of the multiple linkages between psychoactive substances and warfare. It also suggests that as a counterbalance to contemporary accounts stressing the growing threat posed by drug-financed violent nonstate actors, we should recognize the many ways in which the centuries-old nexus between drugs and war has also been about statecraft and the pursuit of the state's strategic objectives.

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2019-05-11
2024-06-15
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