Narcotics and Governments

Drug wars are in the newspapers. So is the War on Terror. Back in the 1950s drugs were a major non-issue for most of us; certainly for me. In the 1960s the newspapers started to tell us about the evils of narcotics and from then on narcotics became a growth industry. They kept on telling us how bad they were repeatedly and started to sound more like advertisements rather than warnings. But it was something to write about and sold newspapers.  Politicians told us that something must be done. Something was done and matters got worse. More somethings got done and still the industry got bigger,  more sophisticated and more profitable. Both side, the suppliers and the saboteurs profited. It is a question whether the government side makes more it of the trade by way salaries and pensions than the suppliers but what is certain is that the forces of law and order force prices up and standards down.

Given the fuss being made about recreational drugs it makes sense to  ask what the causes are and of course, what the solutions are. You might even ask if there is a problem and if government prohibition is part of it.

One man who has produced answers is Alfred McCoy, the author of The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade. He was a lecturer in history at a major American university. This gives him a degree of credibility. His subject area was Asian and his investigation of the subject started off as  historical research which became topical.

The idea that the CIA would involve itself in big time narcotics trading is literally fantastic [ incredible, unbelievable, absurd ] and highly plausible in Doctor McCoy's thesis. The CIA were operating against China's south west borders and that meant colluding with the hill people of Laos, Burma and the Golden Triangle. The only currencies up there are rice and opium. So we find American military choppers moving opium which is more valuable than rice. They saw operations against communist forces at the time of Korea onward as more important than drugs. Wow, were they wrong? They also worked with the Mafia and French mobs to get narcotics moved through Europe.

Now with huge demand and leaky borders preventing the stuff from moving is impossible. Cannabis can be grown locally. Cannabis is grown locally, often by illegal immigrants. They like to deal in cash and tax free. Then there are more sophisticated drugs. Given the chemical knowledge, a certain amount of drive and an extremely attractive rate of return it is not surprising that there is a supply for the demand.

One answer to the issue is for governments to stop meddling. This would make supply easier and cheaper. It would also be a disaster for the crime industry. They would be priced out of business and have to go back to robbery, extortion or even, whisper it, honest work. Exactly the same would apply to the prohibition side of matters. They wouldn't like it either. Perhaps that is why it hasn't happened. In the alternative politicians like the power too much.


For the sake of liberty and security - legalize all drugs
The government is considering reclassifying cannabis..... As an economist with a strong commitment to personal liberty and responsibility, my preference would be to see all illegal drugs legalized. The only exception would be substances whose consumption leads to behaviour likely to cause material harm to others....

So legalize, regulate, tax, educate and rehabilitate. Stop a losing war, get the government off our backs, beat the Taliban and deal a blow to al-Qaeda in the process. Not a bad deal!
The writer is professor of European political economy at the London School of Economics' European Institute
Government meddling has created an industry. A lot of users are victims of official dole arrangements - have you tried living in a council estate? Legalizing would put a lot of government apparatchiks on the dole and make criminals look for honest work too.
PS This appeared in the Financial Times so it will be seen by people with influence.


Death of a drug lord
CHIANG MAI, Thailand - Khun Sa, 73, once known as the "Lord of the Golden Triangle", is dead. Throughout his career as one the world's most prominent drug traffickers, he simultaneously had some very solid contacts - and protectors - in his native Myanmar and beyond. ..........

And, despite his surrender, drugs are still flowing across Myanmar's borders in all directions, which shows that the networks he once created and of which he was a part are still very much intact.....

By then he was officially the most wanted man in the world, indicted by the United States and referred to by then-US ambassador to Thailand William Brown as "the worst enemy the world has". But, even so, the stream of high-powered visitors to his not-so-secret headquarters never ceased to amaze observers.

Among them was Lady Brockett, an American model turned British socialite, and her husband, Lord Brockett, who used to party with Prince Charles. Khun Sa even presented the lady with a pair of ruby-studded shoes, which he had designed himself. Despite all the anti-drug bravado from the US, Khun Sa also had influential American friends, including Bo Gritz, a highly decorated Vietnam War hero who used to spend much of his time searching for American prisoners of war and those missing in action in Indochina....

The bottom line is that the drug trade could never flourish without those networks and official complicity in Myanmar, Thailand and elsewhere. Khun Sa may be gone, but that makes little difference. It is business as usual in the Golden Triangle, only with a new cast of characters.
Believe in the war on drugs if you want. Others do not. The CIA is a major player in the industry. See Politics of Heroin. The CIA has the firepower, the funding, the insider knowledge that makes it so easy for them. Bush was the CIA's  Director.


Important Sources Regarding Governments And Narcotic Trading
In the End of Ordinary Money, Part I J Orlin Grabbe mentions four sources. They are all good.

Two references on historical drug politics are Jack Beeching, The Chinese Opium Wars, Harcourt Bruce Jovanovich, New York, 1975, and Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, Lawrence Hill Books, New York, 1991. Two references on more recent U.S. government involvement include the well- documented book by Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall, Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America, The University of California Press, Berkeley, 1991, and the less well substantiated, but provocative, Compromised: Clinton, Bush, and the CIA, by Terry Reed & John Cummings, Shapolsky Publishers, New York, 1994.

Links follow on.


The Chinese Opium Wars by Jack Beeching
When Hong Kong was handed over by the British in 1997, some asked why the Chinese were showing such lack of gratitude for the 150 years of British rule. Had they read this book, they would understand. The seizure of Hong Kong was part of the "package" of concessions handed over at the end of the First Opium War, in which Britain struggled to free up the flow of opiates to the Celestial Empire. (Without creating a massive market of Chinese opium addicts, the British East India Company, the world's largest purchaser of Chinese tea, stood no chance of balancing its trade deficit with China.) Later, the 1857 "Arrow" incident (Chinese port officials firing on a Dutch pirate vessel flying the Union Jack) provided Britain and France with the necessary pretext to increase their concessions and burn the Imperial Summer Palace. Beeching covers both the military campaigns - tremendous bravery shown on both sides - and the political background to the dispute. His account of the debates in British Parliament are particularly classic, with Palmerston's government engaging in massive chicanery to keep the Lords from voting against the Second Opium War. Beeching knows his stuff, and he is equally scathing of Western avarice which drove these wars and the Chinese royal family's incompetence in failing to limit the damage.
An Englishman writes. He served too.


Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America
This incredible volume was one of the first things I read when I began researching the issue of Contra cocaine trafficking for the San Jose Mercury News in 1995. To call the experience an eye-opener is a major understatement. Cocaine Politics not only confirmed to me that the Contra-drug link was for real, but that it was just a small part of an even more insidious picture: a secret and practically invisible world where intelligence operatives and criminals collude, wreak havoc, and almost always escape prosecution and accountability. When a producer from Dateline NBC, which did a show about my Dark Alliance series, asked me for recommended reading material on this issue, I unhesitatingly recommended Cocaine Politics. His reaction afterwards was memorable: "This is the most amazing book I've ever read. How come I've never heard any of this stuff before?" The answer is pretty obvious once you read this book. If the American public ever got wind of this story, our country and our government would never be the same again.
This covers South America.


Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA
I found this book to answer the mystery of the Iran-Contra/Mena, Arkansas drug smuggling operation. Having read "Under Fire" by Oliver North and this book I find it quite obvious who's lying. Terry Reed, a CIA operative, who thought he was serving an honest government, is compelled to expose the corruption that he himself encountered. Whereas, Oliver North in his book COVERS it all up. We should be thankful for Terry Reed's courage to bring this information out. This book corroborates the documentary, "Mena Cover-up". A man who follows his conscience should never be bound to secrecy when that secrecy only hides corruption. May more COURAGEOUS men and women who have vowed "to secrecy" STAND up!
Terry Reed found himself on the run after getting involved. Then he talked.


Politics of Heroin
Is rather good and well sourced.


Money 1
Is an excellent critique of the war on drugs. It is a major boondoggle which fills prisons, keeps bullies of the dole queue and destroys personal liberty - but politicians like it.


Errors & omissions, broken links, cock ups, over-emphasis, malice [ real or imaginary ] or whatever; if you find any I am open to comment.

Email me at Mike Emery. All financial contributions are cheerfully accepted. If you want to keep it private, use my PGP key.  Home

Updated  on  Friday, 07 September 2012 18:06:23