TomDispatch.com, 28 April 2015
An fascinating, slightly older post (its contents were raised in this recent blogpost by Gary Owens) by Andrew Cockburn on the so-called Kingpin strategy. This node-centric approach has its roots in the drug wars and underlies the expanding US counterinsurgency targeting campaigns. It also turns out to have had the exact opposite effect as intended — as found by Rex Rivolo, an analyst who monitored the application of the kingpin strategy both during the 1990s drug wars and the counterinsurgency campaign in Baghdad in 2007.
Depressingly, “Rivolo’s research and conclusions, though briefed at the highest levels, made no difference. The kingpin strategy might have failed on the streets of American cities, but it had been a roaring success when it came to the prosperity of the DEA…. In the same way, albeit on a vaster scale, high-value targeting failed in its stated goals in the Greater Middle East, where terror recruits grew and terror groups only multiplied under the shadow of the drone…. The strategy has, however, been of inestimable benefit to a host of interested parties, ranging from drone manufacturers to the CIA counterterrorism officials who so signally failed to ward off 9/11 only to adopt assassination as their raison d’être.”
This article was last updated on 9 Mar 2020