Lesson 20: Response to International Crime

  1. Completion of small-group report-back discussion from last lesson.
  2. Review of readings and assignments.
  3. Discussion of Naím's recommendations to curb illicit trade.
    1. More attempts to curb demand (rather than interdict supply)
      1. it's more politically expedient to jail (dark-skinned) foreigners than confront the behavior and appetites of domestic population.
      2. for example, prosecution of johns, not prostitutes. (We discussed the counter-productivity of shutting down brothels or conducting raids, when the women return to work as prostitutes shortly after.)
      3. reduction of demand for drugs. (We discussed the perverse effect of a reduction in supply with demand remaining constant and inelastic: a sharp rise in price, leading to a heightened level of violence as criminals battle each other to obtain and distribute the limited supply, and addicts resort to more crime to pay for addiction.)
    2. Better interagency cooperation (for the opposite, see Davor's article on complete lack of responsibility for maintaining the border fence between Botswana and South Africa)
    3. Better incentives and training for frontline enforcers
      1. greater transparency (Alyssa's article on Canadian involvement in the Mexican drug war mentioned mechanisms for creating accountable law-enforcement institutions)
      2. Reductions in stark inequality / better economic opportunities
        1. for example, a farmer in Afghanistan can earn three times the amount growing poppies for opium instead of wheat
        2. some "trafficked" persons are either entirely willing, sold by their families, or are lured by promises of good jobs, etc.
        3. BUT Naím says we can't wait around for poverty to be alleviated. It's similar to the sustainable development story.
  4. 3 blurrings
    1. legal and illegal commerce
    2. crime and politics
    3. crime/terrorism and philanthropy/social services (evidenced in Michael's piece on Guatemala, Alyssa's piece from last week on "who is a terrorist" for Canadian citizenship purposes)
  5. Somalia article (note that the author is an associate professor at the U.S. Naval War College):
    1. weak states not only breed criminals but suffer as victims from outsiders' exploitation (in this case, overfishing, dumping of toxic chemicals)
    2. war is not just a military phenomenon but a political one as well (our biggest example these days are America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- toppling Saddam Hussein and the Taliban militarily was rather easy, but we still haven't "won" the "war", with both countries still unstable and violent)
    3. protection of the global commons depends on the strong not always asserting their interests over those of the weak. Realistic?
  6. small-group discussion: what one thing would you change if you were in charge?
  7. Wrap-up and conclusion.
Take-home point: In order to tackle the problems of illicit trade, countries need to think more pragmatically about causes and results, not just moralize or pick politically expedient actions. Also, sovereignty may need to take a back-seat to allow cooperation and collaboration.