This is an outstanding and revelatory book, a brilliant account of a drug-trafficking empire. He shows how US protection for their drug-runner allies has led to the huge increase in drug trafficking in the last 50 years.
The US strategy of opposing national self-determination involves alliances with drug-traffickers like the Sicilian Mafia, the Triads in South-East Asia, the Contras in Nicaragua, the Kosovo Liberation Army in Europe, the death squads in Colombia and the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. As President Johnson's Secretary of State Dean Rusk said, the USA "should employ whatever means ... arms here, opium there."
From the 1870s to the 1960s, the British rulers of Malaya farmed the opium franchise to the Triads. The US state first copied this strategy in 1949, when it armed the defeated Kuomintang's drug networks in Burma and Laos, after the victorious Chinese revolution began to eliminate Chinese opium, then the source of 85% of the world's heroin.
The US state encouraged its allies to enrich themselves through drugs, while it blamed the communist enemy for the evils that its allies were committing. From 1949 until at least 1964, the US told the UN Narcotics Commission that China was responsible for drug imports into the USA. In fact, the drugs were trafficked from Burma and Thailand, under the protection of the Kuomintang troops backed by the CIA. The Hong Kong authorities stated that they "were not aware of a traffic in narcotics from the mainland of China through Hong Kong" but "quantities of narcotics reached Hong Kong via Thailand."
The US state assaulted the whole region of South East Asia between 1950 and 1975, just as it is attacking the Middle East today. An earlier effort at regime change in Laos in 1959-60 was a disaster, putting drug traffickers in power. Opium production soared during the years of US intervention, the 1950s and 1960s, and plummeted in 1975 after the Vietnamese people kicked US forces out of the region.
US military interventions lead to bigger drug flows into the USA. After the US intervention in Afghanistan in 1979, the Afghani-produced proportion of heroin consumed in the USA went from zero in 1979 to 52% in 1984.
Later, the Taliban government cut opium production from 3,656 tons in 2000 (90% of Europe's heroin supply) to 74 tons in 2001 (US State Department figures), wiping out 70% of the world's illicit opium production. US forces, in alliance with a drug trafficking network, the Northern Alliance, defeated Al Qa'ida, another drug trafficking network. The US funded the Northern Alliance warlord and terrorist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, making him the world's biggest heroin trafficker.
Under US occupation, Afghan opium production has risen from 3,700 tons in 2002, to 3,400 tons in 2003, to 4,200 tons last year. The Financial Times wrote, "The U.S. and UN have ignored repeated calls by the international antidrugs community to address the increasing menace of Afghanistan's opium cultivation." It is now the world's leading producer of illicit drugs, producing 90% of the heroin sold in Britain and Europe. President Karzai of Afghanistan has made Rashid Dostum, a warlord, drug runner and terrorist, his military chief of staff.
According to the Colombian government, the antigovernment guerrillas of FARC (the supposed target of the 'war on drugs') had 2.5% of Colombia's cocaine trade; the government's allies, the paramilitary death squads, had 40%. Drug production in Colombia and its drug imports to the USA have now doubled to a new record.