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Subject, Methods, Database:
A historical study of the opium and heroin trade and its political context, based on primary and secondary sources, including interviews with some of the key players of the developments in Indochina in the 1950s through 1970s.
The book falls into four main parts. Following a preface that illuminates the fascinating story behind the story and a brief introduction on the history of heroin, the first part deals with the cross-Atlantic heroin trade from the 1940s through 1970s, with special emphasis on the Mafia and Marseille based Corsican syndicates. The second part, taking up some 300 out of 530 pages (not counting the notes), describes in great detail the development of the Asian opium trade from colonial times up to the end of the Vietnam War. In the third section McCoy critically reviews the U.S. wars on drug from Nixon to Clinton, while the fourth part specifically addresses the question of CIA involvement in drug trafficking in the context of covert warfare in Afghanistan and Nicaragua during the 1980s and 1990s.
Opium had become a major commodity in world trade before it was outlawed early in the 20th century as a result of increased medical awareness of addiction and a global temperance movement. Prohibition drove opium into an illicit economy eventually controlled by upland drug lords and urban crime syndicates. By the late 1990s, 180 million people, or 4.2 percent of the world's adult population, were using illicit drugs worldwide, including 13.5 million for opiates, 14 million for cocaine, and 29 million for amphetamines. These figures, Alfred McCoy suggests, are the outcome of a long process of ill-fated political intervention, starting with the promotion of opium use in China and among the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia by European colonial powers. Britain fought two successful wars in 1839 and 1858 to force the Chinese empire to lift the ban on opium that had been in effect since 1729, while revenues from state-licensed opium dens contributed significantly to colonial finances. During and shortly after World War II, McCoy claims, the United States spoiled a unique opportunity to eliminate heroin addiction as a major social problem when the "radical pragmatism" of its intelligence agencies, the OSS and its successor, the CIA, enabled the "Sicilian American Mafia" and the Corsican underworld of Marseille to revive the international narcotics traffic. The alliance, directed against the Italian and French Communist parties, "put the Corsicans in a powerful enough position to establish Marseille as the postwar heroin capital of the Western world and" cemented "a long-term partnership with Mafia drug distributors" (p. 47).
Half way around the globe, in Burma, the CIA was guided by the same anti-Communist rationale when it provided support to Kuomintang (KMT) forces that had retreated from China into what would soon be known as the Golden Triangle. The KMT encouraged the production of opium and centralized its marketing, selling the opium primarily to a Thai police general and CIA client. The CIA, McCoy explains, had promoted the Thai-KMT partnership "to provide a secure rear area for the KMT" (p. 162). Later, the CIA used KMT troops as mercenaries in its secret operations in Laos, a country that was emerging as a main transshipment and production center for opium and heroin. In the 1950s, French intelligence and paramilitary agencies had secured the loyalty of poppy growing hill tribes in Laos against Communist infiltration by organizing the marketing of their crop. A decade later, the CIA adopted the same strategy, although not with the same degree of involvement, when its airline, Air America, began flying opium out of the hills for sale and refinement in facilities operated and controlled by "the CIA's covert action assets" who, McCoy notes, "had become the leading heroin dealers in Laos" (p. 289). Similarly, the U.S. long tolerated the involvement of South Vietnamese political and military figures in the opium and heroin trade. This involvement went so far that "elements of the Vietnamese army managed much of the distribution and sale of heroin to GIs inside South Vietnam" (p. 229). McCoy sums up the role of U.S. agencies by stating that "American involvement had gone far beyond coincidental complicity; embassies covered up involvement by client governments, CIA contact airlines had carried opium, and individual CIA agents had winked at the opium traffic" (p. 383).
When U.S. troops withdrew from Vietnam, the Southeast Asian drugs followed and also found new markets in Europe after American pressure had "forced Turkey to eradicate its opium fields and France to close its heroin laboratories" (p. 388). McCoy concludes that Nixon's war on drugs, while in the short term successful, merely resulted in an increased complexity of the global heroin trade.
The same mechanisms of localized suppression transforming into global stimulus, McCoy argues, could be observed in Latin America during the 1990s. Despite massive eradication efforts, the overall Andes coca harvest doubled, parallel to the introduction of poppy cultivation in Colombia which supplied 65 percent of the U.S. heroin market by 1999. Likewise, the pattern of CIA complicity, first exposed in Laos during the Vietnam War, repeated itself in Nicaragua with the support of cocaine trafficking Contras and in Afghanistan with opium trafficking mujaheddin. To attain its operational goals, McCoy notes, the CIA tolerated and concealed the drug dealing by its local assets.
Despite the seeming weight of the evidence, at the end of his book Alfred McCoy is hesitant to arrive at a definite judgment regarding the CIA's responsibility for the global drug trade: "it is difficult to state unequivocally that the individual drug lords allied with the CIA did or did not shape the long-term trajectory of supply and demand within the vastness and complexity of the global drug traffic" (p. 529). However, what McCoy seems to suggest is that had the CIA adopted a rigorous anti-drugs policy and had the war on drugs focused more on demand reduction, then the drug problem could have been less severe by the year 2000.
At first glance this book might be mistaken for just another post-9/11 conspiracy theory which finds the U.S. government and its agencies behind every evil doing on the planet. But this impression could not be further from the truth. To begin with, "The Politics of Heroin: CIA complicity in the global drug trade" is the third, revised and expanded, edition of a true classic, "The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia", that was first published in 1972. Moreover, Alfred McCoy, the author, is a diligent researcher who looks at the broad picture, carefully weighing the evidence and arriving at conclusions that are more cautious than the book title implies. Finally, the title of the book is misleading insofar as the role of the United States in general and the CIA in particular is not always at the center of the events that McCoy recounts.
"The Politics of Heroin", the product of a remarkably adventurous research process, has been written in the tradition of a historiography that focuses on individual actors, often two antagonists pitted against each other, rather than on broad socio-economic structures and processes, although these aspects are not ignored. McCoy's approach is convincing where he can rely on first hand information from the key players whose actions he describes, namely the veterans of French and American covert operations in Indochina. But the focus on individuals appears problematic where he has to draw on less reliable sources. The discussion of drug trafficking in the U.S., for example, is based on controversial official and journalistic sources and, by emphasizing the importance of particular notorious gangsters like Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, displays a certain affinity to conventional imagery. In contrast, the chapters on the war on drugs and the CIA operations in Nicaragua and Afghanistan that have been written since the publication of the first edition reemphasize McCoy's critical perspective, adding further insights while underscoring his scathing assessment of the nexus between drugs and politics.
This book with a unique history of its own is a key contribution to the analysis of the global drug trade.
Chicago: Lawrence Hill, 2003
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Most strongly recommended this publication for mature American adults looking for facts. Most strongly recommended to ID State Crimes. Most strongly recommend for an insight to the BIG picture. For me, this outstanding work IS one of the top 5 publications I've discovered all while traveling through the rabbit hole of discovery. It all leads back here!
Alfred McCoy Studied at Columbia, the University of California-Berkeley, and Yale, where he received a Ph.D. in the history of Southeast Asia. He has written extensively on the region and on U.S. covert operations, including torture and Impunity, Policing America's Empire, A Question of Torture, and The Politiccs of Heroin. He is now the J.R.W. Smail Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The path I have been following has lead me here as one of the connections associated with the events of 9/11. I read this publication specifically trying to understand about the relationship of the CIA, ISI, the mutaheddin, the Taliban, al Qaeda, Pakistan and Afghanistan and how these elements tied into the tragic events of 9/11 from a source not necessary intent as 9/11 as the primary subject. This profound publication was not in response to 9/11 where as it was already published in 1972 that has been updated, to present the global drug trade with Heroin and the connection with the CIA. Even so, this publication is the proof that the 9/11 commission report was sorely lacking a full accounting, and this profound publication proves that. The 9/11 commission report noted on Page 56, "The international environment for bin Ladin's efforts was ideal. Saudi Arabia and the United States supplied billions of dollars worth of secret assistance to rebel groups in Afghanistan. But, quoting from this publication (The Politics of Heroin), "By ignoring the drug trafficking of its covert allies, the CIA violated the U.S. National Intelligence Act and later executive orders requiring it to provide intelligence to support the drug war." Shows that there are indeed elements within our government that is criminal.
This publication also shows that because of the direct relationship that the CIA had in operational control with the ISI and the fact the CIA created the Taliban & al Qaeda via the ISI, the Commission report on page 333, noted that Mahmud Ahmed (who funded the Taliban) was visited by the Pakistan intelligence chief, conveyed the United States various demands, that included turning over Bin Ladin even though the CIA had created Bin Ladin the CIA was the controlling authority in the first place. Thus, the official 9/11 commission report again failed to be independent, impartial as the law direct as such by the way the information was presented.
"In a society that seeks to prefect the rule of law, willful illegality has lasting repercussions." Page 529
The author's intent was to show the global drug issues and the CIA's relationship, but his documented efforts have reviled that the CIA's involvement most certainly influenced the events of September 11th, 2001.
It's all here.
1) "The CIA's decade-long Afghan war during the 1980's had destabilized a delicate political balance within Central Asia-devastating Afghanistan, destabilizing Pakistan, and mobilizing radical Islam"
2) "In particulate, the ISI's role as the CIA's surrogate in the Afghan war had invested this military intelligence unit with vast profits from the heroin trade and installed it inside Afghanistan and the patron of radical Islamic parties."
3) "Though the Soviets had withdrawn their troops, the CIA felt it had a "moral duty to arm the Mujaheddin" for a final assault on Kabul and raised its covert aid to 350 million in 1998"
4) "Pakistan then backed the formation of a new Pashutun force, the Taliban. With arms from the ISI and fanatical recruits from Pakistan's militant madrasah Islamic schools, the Taliban launched a campaign to capture Kabul in 1995 from its base around the southern city of Kandahar."
5 "...there was every indication that the CIA was aware that its Afghan and Central American operations contributed to the export of cocaine and heroin to the United States-and did nothing to slow this drug flow"
6) "Whenever it has been confronted with a expose of drug trafficking by its former allies, the agency has bone to extraordinary lengths to preempt these charges"
With that final observation noted above, how can we assume what is told to us, by elements of our government, is truthful?
Additional publications validating my observations:
AIDS, Opium, Diamonds, and Empire
The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism
Classified Woman-The Sibel Edmonds Story: A Memoir
Tragedy & Hope: A History of the World in Our Time
The Iran-Contra Scandal: The Declassified History (The National Security Archive Document Series)The Iran-Contra Scandal (The National Security Archive Document)
Psychological Warfare and the New World Order: The Secret War Against the American PeopleDefrauding America: Encyclopedia of Secret Operations by the CIA, DEA, and Other Covert Agencies
The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence
Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion
None Dare Call It Conspiracy
American Heart of Darkness: Volume I:The Transformation of the American Republic into a Pathocracy
British East India Company and Opium:
"THE BEIC's premier product was opium. The people running this enterprise learned two major lessons from addicting the Chinese to opium--that narcotizing drugs can weaken an otherwise impermeable society and corrupt it internally making it ripe for control and that there are enormous profits to be made by creating two types of addicts: those who physically crave your product and those who financially crave the perverse rewards from destroying others. These were lessons not lost on the elites of Britain and the United States who ran this dirty business and who have been in charge of the largest global enterprise ever since--the worldwide control and distribution of narcotics. Both drug cultures, legal and illegal as well as the global monetary system that promotes poverty, war and genocide, play a major role in the need to create a disease category called AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS is a disease pattern that arose out of the confluence of global drug running and global medical, social and economic policies created with intent and malice aforethought at the highest levels. It is the result of the Bretton Woods agreement signed in New Hampshire in 1944.
Beginning in 1913, the Rockefeller backed General Education Board gave millions of dollars to medical schools that disregarded naturopathy, homeopathy and chiropractic or any non toxic healing modality in favor of medicine based on the use of surgery, radiation and especially chemical drugs. Aided by the AMA, a medical monopoly was created. History will note that one of the most cleverly diabolical schemes was the ingenious marketing technique of training a cadre of unsuspecting physicians as a sales force for the drugs manufactured by the Rockefeller Trust. The system allows the doctor to remain aloof from the dirty business of selling while giving him the special privilege of being able to write prescriptions for nostrums he has been trained by the very drug companies who manufacture them to prescribe. Most of these drugs are only for the relief of chronic symptoms and have multiple deleterious side effects. Diseases are managed, they are not cured. Just as the British East India Company learned, repeat customers are wildly profitable." (Dr. Nancy Turner Banks)