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The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade Paperback – April, 1991
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From Publishers Weekly
Nearly 20 years ago, McCoy wrote The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia , which stirred up considerable controversy, alleging that the CIA was intimately involved in the Vietnamese opium trade. In the current volume, a substantially updated and longer work, he argues that pk the situation basically hasn't changed over the past two decades; however the numbers have gotten bigger. McCoy writes, "Although the drug pandemic of the 1980s had complex causes, the growth in global heroin supply could be traced in large part to two key aspects of U.S. policy: the failure of the DEA's interdiction efforts and the CIA's covert operations." He readily admits that the CIA's role in the heroin trade was an "inadvertent" byproduct of "its cold war tactics," but he limns convincingly the path by which the agency and its forebears helped Corsican and Sicilian mobsters reestablish the heroin trade after WW II and, most recently, "transformed southern Asia from a self-contained opium zone into a major supplier of heroin." Scrupulously documented, almost numbingly so at times, this is a valuable corrective to the misinformation being peddled by anti-drug zealots on both sides of the aisle. First serial to the Progressive.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
It seems that the American government has learned nothing from its war on drugs. In 1972, the CIA attempted to suppress McCoy's classic work, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia ( LJ 11/15/72 ) , which charged CIA complicity in the narcotics trade as part of its cold war tactics. Now, this revised and expanded edition, incorporating 20 years of research, discusses in almost overwhelming detail how U.S. drug policies and actions in the Third World has created "America's heroin plague." McCoy notes that every attempt at interdiction has only resulted in the expansion of both the production and consumption of drugs. He also charges that 40 years of CIA protection of Asian drug traffickers and active participation in the transport of opium and heroin has undermined U.S. anti-drug efforts. A massive work that raises serious questions. For larger public and academic libraries.
- Wilda Williams, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
US support of anti-communists in Asia, who often financed their activities through poppy, opium and heroin growing and manufacturing, led to this situation. It really began in WWII, when mobsters like Lucky Luciano and Vito Genovese were let out of jail to help the US invasion of Sicily, and then to keep the unions in southern France out of the hands of the Communists in the post-war years. The latter focused on the port city of Marseille, which soon became a center of heroin refining and exporting (the "French Connection). In the '50s, the Shah of Iran put a stop to the massive poppy industry in that country. Some of the remnants of Chiang Kai-shek's troops fled into the jungles of Burma after their defeat by the Communists; the US pressured Burma into allowing those troops to stay there, and the CIA began supplying them with Company airlines (Civil Air Transport and Sea Supply Corporation, which soon became Air America).
The KMT troops in Burma grew opium to finance themselves, while they used US arms and sometimes CIA planes to fly the opium out to Thailand or Taiwan. The drug center of the region was the town of Chiang Mai in northwest Thailand. The commander of the Thai police, Gen. Phao, was in on the racket and was the CIA's man in that country. In the '50s, heroin became a major problem in the US. The French also cooperated with the heroin trade in Indochina, and most of the leaders of South Vietnam (including Diem and Nhu) were involved as well. The Montagnard (or Hmong, also Meo) tribesmen in the hills were both fierce fighters and poppy farmers. Air America flew opium out of the Montagnard villages. DEA Far East regional director John J. O'Neill: "The kind of people they were dealing with up there, the whole economy was opium. The were dealing with the KMT and the KMT was involved in heroin. I have no doubt that Air America was used to transport opium." The Army's Criminal Investigation Division accidentally discovered a mammoth scheme where GI corpses were split open and stuffed with heroin before being flown to the US. Conspiring officers at the other end took the heroin out - up to 50 pounds of heroin per dead GI.
Oddly missing from the book is a similar historical account of Turkey's role as a major supplier of First World markets. Though mentioned sporadically, Turkey remains largely outside the text's focus, despite its traditional connection to Mediterranean traffickers. Also eclipsed is Mc Coy's all-too-brief discussion of Latin America's part in the developing world of drug trade, about which so much new material has surfaced since the book's 1991 publishing date. Unfortunately, readers looking for material on these critical areas should look elsewhere.
No book on the drug trade is complete without a discussion of the role the CIA has played in boosting the industry's world-wide network. Here Mc Coy's cautious approach is paticularly damning in its findings. In a brief but telling conclusion, CIA policy is indicted for protecting drug lords in the name of national security, and for directly contradicting Drug Enforcement Agency's efforts to interdict major traffickers. Worse, he sees a growing tolerance for narcotics as an informal weapon of covert warfare whose trajectory now extends beyond Cold War confines. Considering the evidence amassed of at least indirect CIA complicity in a variety of hot spots, such conclusions are hardly overblown. However, his hope for both a reformed CIA and domestic War on Drugs are, it would seem, tenuous at best, given the global size of wealth and power that is at stake. As his book has shown, Cold War or no, the political economy of illegal narcotics, with its often useful underworld connections and expanded instruments of repression, is simply too powerful a tool for empire builders of any stripe to surrender.
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in 1991, this book has been an essential text
for those trying to understand the "war on
drugs," the exceedingly...Read more
The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade by Alfred McCoy is a volume obviously devoted to opiates,...Read more