Interesting post this morning over at The Argument on the similarities between the Taliban and organized crime. This idea echoes earlier (and interesting) work by Charles Tilly on the origins of the state. While I think Peters’ analysis is interesting and thought provoking, I don’t think it means we should ignore the religious aspect of the movement. Understanding the criminal aspects of their enterprise is useful for gaining perspective on their material capabilities and the methods through which they maintain and grow those capabilities. It also allows us to think thoroughly as to how we might cut off and put a strain on those capabilities. But in thinking about their likely actions, we would be limited if we just stuck to criminal/economic rationale and ignored the religious/political goals. I am not suggesting that Peters thinks or suggests we should go completely in this direction, just a general observation on my part.

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