Coercion, cash-crops and culture from insurgency to proto-state in Asia's opium belt
Merz, Andrew A.
Johnson, Thomas H.
Malley, Michael S.
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This thesis is a comparative study of conflict and opium in the Golden Crescent and Golden Triangle, focusing in particular on Afghanistan-Pakistan and Burma. It takes a state building approach to analyze the formation and composition of opiate-funded "proto-states" in the two regions, with case studies on the Taliban and the United Wa State Party. Historic, political, ethnic and cultural factors are explored in relation to each region and proto-state case. The basic argument is that opium and opiate trade provided capital for the formation of basic state-like entities that conduct all the basic statebuilding activities as defined in the literature. What are often called "insurgent groups" are actually armies of proto-states. What are often called "insurgencies" are actually conflicts between infant states in areas that never contained nation-states. This paradigm suggests an alternate method to study these two areas: a method that emphasizes history and anthropology to understand the basic motivations and attributes of the proto-state actors.
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