Drugs: The Other Global War

The Global Drugs Trade

In recent times, the oil trade has been a principal focus of the communist analysis of imperialism, an analysis which delves beyond appearances and seeks to find the economic justification which motivates all the main players.

However, even if this focus on the economic roots of imperialist activity is entirely correct, there is a powerful case to be made for saying that we have missed the elephant in the room, the illegal drugs trade.

When considering this phenomenon, there has to be the realisation that objectivity is difficult to achieve, that the figures on offer are approximate, after all this is mainly an underground activity. But perhaps the following may cast some light on the extent of the issue;

It’s a shockingly clear indictment of how the actual harms created by drugs are not necessarily to do with the drugs themselves. But more to do with the way they are prohibited, thus ensuring a buoyant black market which is worth trillions of dollars worldwide every single year. A truly massive industry dwarfing the likes of Microsoft and Google in terms of net annual worth. But unlike these two technology giants, the drug industry isn’t run using computers. It’s run by people who use guns and knives.

pr.cannazine.co.uk eco-news/drug-dealing-fuelled-byprohibition- and-prison.html

And there is every sign that such gargantuan dollar figures are rapidly increasing, that the consumption of illegal drugs is on the up. However, even though such objective measurement is of crucial importance to comprehension of the economic phenomena which we contend hold the key to understanding the possibilities and the necessity of constructing a world -wide political party for proletarian liberation, the fact is we are in the dark regarding much of this murky trade, even if recent developments have thrust it to the forefront of media attention and hence provoke a comment from a communist perspective. Nor does the present article have much ambition beyond alerting to the fact that, for those who consider themselves capable of comprehending the movement of capital, the major economic features of the age, this issue is not to be ignored, and may yet prove decisive in shaping the world, even in the very near future.

When referring to the economic importance of the illegal drug trade (and it is worth mentioning in passing that the legal drug trade, with the ultra nasty benzodiazepines, including the explosion of ever more “legal highs” and old familiars like alcohol and tobacco, responsible for more deaths than the world wars, is of great economic significance, part of the profit driven pharmaceutical and medical industries into whose hands we place our health) we are not simply talking about outlaws, but the fundamental pillars of capitalist society. However, anyone who cares to take a closer look into this phenomenon will realise that there is no real distinction.

The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been involved in several drug trafficking operations. Often, the CIA worked with groups which it knew were involved in drug trafficking, so that these groups would provide them with useful intelligence and material support, in exchange for allowing their criminal activities to continue, and impeding or preventing their arrest, indictment, and imprisonment by U.S. law enforcement agencies.

en.wikipedia.org

Evidence abounds, as a preliminary investigation simply opening up the can of worms, this article will not attempt to explore every documented CIA crime but for the purposes of illustration,

Released on April 13, 1989, the Kerry Committee report concluded that members of the U.S. State Department “who provided support for the Contras were involved in drug trafficking... and elements of the Contras themselves knowingly received financial and material assistance from drug traffickers.” (Wikipedia) and, The CIA - in spite of objections from the Drug Enforcement Administration, allowed at least one ton of nearly pure cocaine to be shipped into Miami International Airport. The CIA claimed to have done this as a way of gathering information about Colombian drug cartels. But the cocaine ended up being sold on the street. In November 1996 a Miami jury indicted former Venezuelan antinarcotics chief and longtime CIA asset, General Ramon Guillen Davila, who was smuggling many tons of cocaine into the United States from a Venezuelan warehouse owned by the CIA. In his trial defense, Guillen claimed that all of his drug smuggling operations were approved by the CIA.

And it goes on and on. This is not just a case of turning a blind eye to the enemies of one’s enemies; this is a case of profiteering to the tune of billions of dollars. This anonymous internet poster makes the point;

Obama’s not naive. There’s a group of extremely rich greedy men, just like the executives from BP, who run the world. They make hundreds of billions annually on heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine & marijuana. By keeping drugs illegal worldwide, they keep prices inflated, thus making them more profitable. These people are in complete control of our government, and our political system, and take money from cartels’ profit in order to use the DEA to rub out their competition, and make sure all (or most) of the money being made on drugs has a cut being paid to the big shots. I want to say the kingpin on this side of the world is GHW Bush, being director of the CIA during many of the years of shady drug smuggling CIA black ops. They know EXACTLY what they are doing. The truth is though, it has more to do with the bankers who finance him and his family’s campaign (and Obama’s also), and do the money laundering for the cartels. The CIA just used their government airplanes to help smuggle it in back in the 80’s. Now thanks to the money laundering over the years, the cartels have enough ‘washed’ money to buy their own airplanes and smuggle it on their own. That doesn’t mean the bankers don’t still get their cut ‘washing’ all the cash money that is being presented to them.

Whatever the exact truth which we may never know, the kernel remains - the official agencies of capitalism are directly implicated in the drugs trade on a colossal scale.

The Mexican Battleground

It would seem highly inappropriate, given the media attention which it has earned, plus the implication which it has for the future of society, not to touch upon the Mexican situation. Not that such a convenient label does justice to the phenomenon, for what we are seeing is a part of the story of drug production and distribution which is worldwide.

Lest anyone accuse us of intellectual elitism, (or praise us for it...) let us quote from the British gutter press, the News of the World. Aug 22 2010.

One in every three lines of cocaine snorted in the UK has passed through Mexican kingpins” US Drug Enforcement Officer.

And from the same moronic newspaper;

Since the Afghan conflict began nine years ago, 2004 NATO troops have been killed. but along the Mexican/US border a staggering TEN TIMES that number have been murdered in the past two years alone, making it the DEADLIEST battlefield on earth. (...) Ciudad Juarez... is now officially the world’s most dangerous place to live.

Recently parts of the US/Mexican border have been declared an official warzone and with the discovery of 72 victims of the Zeta gang, Mexico has officially declared it can no longer guarantee the safety of any individual on its soil.

The latest chapter in the history of this horror is the sacking of thousands of police who are suspected of complying with the cartels, and this corruption has spread throughout the system as the enormous wealth of the cartels allows them to buy political power.

It is worth mentioning that some of these cartels were actually born from the Mexican army and have since grown from deserting troops.

The Mexican Ministry of defense says over 100 000 soldiers have deserted from the army in recent years. They do not know how many have joined the drug gangs. Gangs like the Zetas, who began when between 31-67 soldiers from the Army Special Forces joined the Gulf Cartel, offer well paid employment to the soldiers assigned to the USMexican border.

However, as initially stated, the purpose of this article is simply to raise awareness concerning the colossal economic scale of the problem, and obviously we have touched upon political aspects as the official institutions stand directly accused of compliance in the trafficking of drugs which they themselves have declared illegal.

It would take several volumes to explore the details of the world drugs trade, the involvement of the major “respectable” financial institutions, the agencies of government etc; the point is they are guilty and that is enough for the moment. And it is enough to establish this much when considering the future implications and possible solutions to a problem which possibly ranks as humanity’s prime problem, depending on perspective.

The War on Drugs?

To make at least some preliminary remarks regarding the future implications (and the resent reality) of the illegal drug trade, it is worth dwelling a moment on what is commonly referred to as the War on Drugs, a subject which has recently been the focus of a UK Channel 4 series of documentaries, and obviously in the media spotlight in Mexico, Afghanistan where

the huge profits from an illegal heroin trade supply 60% of the Taliban’s finance...Drug money in one form or another makes up almost half of Afghanistan’s GDP. These vast sums are generated solely because heroin is illegal.

And more or less everywhere to a varying extent. Let us add, in European terms, the UK is the illegal drugs capital. By means of some deft dialectical footwork, it becomes obvious that this war, being hailed as a failure by many, has in fact been a tremendous success for its beneficiaries. No, it does not stop the flow of drugs, no, it does not protect public health and safety (not only Mexico cannot guarantee the safety of its citizens, the danger is omnipresent, who knows what is in the drugs routinely consumed by millions – deadly de-worming powders in cocaine, cannabis, heroin, amphetamines mixed with whatever... legal highs no one knows what they will do now or later). But on the profit front, the prohibiton of substances makes perfect sense.

Suddenly mere plants any fool could grow become very valuable.

Chemical products which could be produced at laughably cheap rates (compared to say, alcohol) suddenly become gold dust. The source of the illegal drug wealth is prohibition, without which, the many commodities would be almost worthless in financial terms.

And another valuable benefit for the ruling class-the War on Drugs allows a constant legitimisation of a war on the poor, particularly in the USA a war on the ethnic minorities who fill the jails, another thriving business, including that of massive exploitation of prison labour. This facet of the drugs war is worth volumes as it illustrates perfectly well the bestiality of the number one imperialist power, and capitalist barbarism in general. The following extract illustrates the point;

"War on Drugs - Fuelling The Prison Boom. Never mind putting your money in oil, or pharmaceuticals if you are looking for a long term investment.

In the United States, the new business to be in is the business surrounding locking people up.

Indeed so fast is the growth in the new prisons business, human rights campaigners are looking at the war on drugs as the newest form of legal slavery.
Prison Inc. = Slavery? Human Rights organisations are condemning what they are calling a new form of inhumane exploitation in the United States, where they say a prison population of up to 2 million - mostly Black and Hispanic - are working for various hi-brand American corporations for around 25 cents (around 18p) an hour. For the tycoons who have invested in the prison industry, it has been like finding a pot of gold. They don’t have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment insurance, vacations or sick days. All of their workers are full-time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems. Moreover, if they don’t like the pay of 25 cents an hour and refuse to work, they are locked up in isolation cells. There are approximately 2 million inmates in state, federal and private prisons throughout the US. According to California Prison Focus, “no other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens.” The figures show that the United States has locked up more people than any other country: a half million more than China, which has a population five times greater than the U.S. Statistics reveal that the United States holds 25% of the world’s prison population, but only 5% of the world’s people. From less than 300,000 inmates in 1972, the jail population grew to 2 million by the year 2000. In 1990 it was one million. Ten years ago there were only five private prisons in the United States, with a population of 2,000 inmates; now, there are 100 private prisons, with 62,000 inmates. It is expected that by the coming decade, the number will hit 360,000, and so the exponential growth increases year on year, making private prisons a good, long term investment." ( pr.cannazine.co.uk )

Even this superficial presentation begins to reveal the importance of this phenomenon for the capitalist economy, an economy ever less able to function by producing to meet the needs of humanity, an economy which has pushed staggering numbers of people into deprivation and created such levels of misery that the drugs trade flourishes at every level, the destitute risk all produce and to sell the drugs, the miserable risk all to consume the drugs, the rich gain all as the banks process the proceeds.

Misery is the fertile soil for growing a drug problem, and we have it in abundance. Ridiculous social models whereby rich elites lord it over pauperised masses are the ultimate foundation of this affliction.

Society is mentally paralysed because mental production is dominated by the plutocracy that dominates all States and global economy, in capitalist terms it is impossible to analyse the problem scientifically, to tackle the problem which is destroying societies, which threatens an escalating war on the border (indeed within) the number one imperialist power and everywhere as the many hydra’s heads of the drugs trade rear up over and over. Already it has been forecast that the main health problem of the near future will be mental health, and as we start making the connections, we can see that the drugs problem is the result of capitalist decadence, that it mirrors the barbarism that capitalism inflicts in all other social areas, it IS an undeniable aspect of capitalist decadence.

The article could continue over many volumes, the possibility of some level of legalisation (under capitalist rules whereby marijuana becomes a corporate controlled product) is very real in the very near future, the potential destabilisation of the USA as the rival drug cartels permeate all aspects of life, however let us be content for the moment to be aware of its magnitude and throw the issue into the arena of debate.

Ant

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The road from Kabul to Jalalabad marked by valleys and high mountains on either side, is used by many local farmers and merchants to transport fruit and other produce from markets. It is also a key transit point for heroin.

As the heroin trafficking trade has blown up in Afghanistan, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has begun a crackdown on the Taliban militants involved with the trade.

Raids are the new centerpiece of the United States anti-drug strategy for Afghanistan. This new strategy will replace the old one of simply destroying farmer's crops; they are now targeting the drug traffickers.

The DEA raids often occur at night when the agents are concealed by darkness. According to one DEA official, the darkness allows them to use the element of surprise in their raids.

As it stands, Afghanistan produces more than 90 percent of the world's opium and has become the world's leading exporter of heroin. According to Robert Charles, the former secretary of state for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, Afghanistan has surpassed another leading exporter of drugs: Colombia. Afghanistan now exports more heroin than Colombia does cocaine, which has lead to the recent surge in heroin abuse.

More on the Mexican tragedy...

Nine Mexican police killed in ambush

Gunmen have killed nine Mexican police officers and wounded another in an ambush in Guerrero, a south-western State beset by drug violence, prosecutors said.

The Guerrero prosecutor's office announced on its Facebook page 'the death of nine State police officers killed in the line of duty' late on Tuesday.

The officers were in patrol cars when the gunmen attacked them on a road in the town of Apaxtla de Castrejon, which is located in a region known as 'Tierra Caliente' ('Hot Land') that has been the scene of brutal gang turf wars.

Cocaine shipments that arrive on the Pacific coast are transported through Tierra Caliente -- a region straddling Guerrero, Michoacan and Mexico state -- where marijuana and opium poppies are also produced.

In December, four police officers were gunned down in Michoacan.

Gangs linked to the powerful Zetas drug cartel are fighting for dominance in Guerrero against the Knights Templar, an offshoot of La Familia Michoacana that first emerged in Michoacan.

The violence has seeped into Guerrero's tourist resort of Acapulco, where six Spanish tourists were raped by masked gunmen, who stormed a rented beach house.

Fed up with the police's failure to stem the crime wave, hundreds of farmers in the central part of Guerrero grabbed rifles and machetes last month to police their communities.

Mexico is in the throes of a drug war that has left more than 70,000 people dead since 2006, with gangs battling each other and the authorities.

President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in December, pledging to shift the drug war's focus towards bringing down the wave of murders, kidnapping and extortion plaguing Mexico, but the violence has continued unabated.

Mexico's police are regularly targeted by drug gangs, and Municipal and State police officers are often accused of working with the cartels.

Pena Nieto has announced plans to form a new Federal police force modelled after France's gendarmerie that would replace the army and marines, which were deployed by his predecessor, Felipe Calderon, to battle the cartels in 2006.

Interior Minister, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, said last month that soldiers would remain in the streets 'until crime levels go down throughout the country.'

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