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February 28, 2009

More Drug War Foolishness

Hot on the heels of brand-new AG Eric Holder’s sotto voce admission that DEA raids on pot cubs in California will cease came an AP story that’s hardly news: drug war violence around the world is a threat to American national security. Imagine that! The first two problem areas cited were Afghanistan and Mexico.

Afghanistan vaulted from also ran to world leadership in opium production after the CIA assisted its Northern Alliance (of opium growers) in their (successful) efforts to oust the Soviets during the Eighties. After the Soviet debacle, following which the US lost interest, Pakistan’s ISI had helped the Islamist Talban to gain and maintain political control of Afghanistan despite the fact that the chronically divided country had been providing de facto sanctuary to Osama bin Laden, who had himself been empowered by helping us oust the Soviets and became profoundly anti-American in the process.

Following 9/11, we soon rediscovered the Northern Alliance with the help of Pakistan’s newly installed military dictator and the Alliance quickly consolidated its position as number one supplier of heroin to Europe. Incidentally, the Muslim KLA that helped NATO against the Bosnian Serbs in Kosovo had also been earning most of its foreign exchange smuggling Afghan heroin into Europe.

If this is starting to sound a bit murky, it's only the tip of the drug war iceberg; for a more complete picture of CIA involvement in illegal drug markets going back to the Nixon era and before, one should read Alfred McCoy's updated Politics of Heroin

In the interests of keeping this entry manageable, I'll now segue South of the Border and call on my own memory based on the five years I lived in El Paso, well before the drug war had empowered Mexican cartels. As a surgical resident at the Army's William Beaumont General Hospital, I had a fair amount of direct contact with border politics and was also a frequent visitor to Juarez, then also sinful, but nearly untainted by illegal drugs, except for the occasional joint sold to an unsuspecting GI by a petty grifter, who would then point the miscreant out to US Customs at the border for a minor reward.

In other words, nearly everyone knew pot was illegal, but the business it generated was insignificant because there was no demand; hardly the story today. For more evidence, click here.

Distressing to me as a long time opponent of the drug war is the fact that neither the Newsweek feature article nor today's AP story would draw the obvious conclusion that American drug policy, by providing both price support and free advertising for illegal criminal markets, has been the cause of much of the evil it claims to oppose. Given its timing, I'm now also suspicious that the AP story was planted by drug war supporters who are just smart enough to understand that sustained cessation of DEA raids on California pot clubs would mark the beginning of the end of the futile War on Drugs that became their meal ticket shortly after Tricky Dick was forced to blow town.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at February 28, 2009 11:42 PM