The CIA and Drugs
A short history of the CIA's involvement with drugs and the reasons for it.
Journalist Gary Webb did a series of investigative reports for the San Jose Mercury-News detailing how the CIA was involved in importing cocaine into the United States and funneling that drug to poor inner-city neighborhoods, using the proceeds to finance the terrorist Contra army in Nicaragua. Further confirmation of the CIA's role in cocaine importation is provided by two former DEA agents, Michael Levine and Celerino Castillo. Michael Levine wrote a book called The Big White Lie, where he documents how the CIA forced the DEA to back off prosecuting large cocaine dealers in Bolivia because the CIA was backing a coup by these same drug dealers to overthrow the leftist government in Bolivia. This so-called cocaine coup also involved the participation of Nazi war criminals like Klaus Barbie and the anticommunist Moon organization. Celerino Castillo gave testimony that Cuban exile and CIA agent Felix Rodriguez was using the Ilopango air base in El Salvador to smuggle arms to the Contras and cocaine back to the United States as part of Oliver North's operations against the Sandinistas. Once again DEA agent Celerino Castillo was told by the CIA to back off from any interference with Felix Rodriguez's cocaine smuggling. It is patently obvious that defeating leftists is greatly preferred over any efforts in the so-called War on Drugs.
The economic and strategic motivations for the CIA allowing crack cocaine to flow into inner-city ghettos will likely remain hidden. The British imported opium into China not only because it was profitable to the East India Company, but because opium made the Chinese more docile, less able to organize resistance and hence, easier to exploit. It is no accident that cheap crack cocaine went into the poor inner-city neighborhoods, where there is a more restive, discontented population. The CIA was very aware of the violent rebellions by the black populations of these ghettos in the 1960s that caused large sections of major American cities to be burned to the ground. They certainly would want to prevent this from happening in the future.
In addition, drugs provide a source of income for the ruling elites in other countries, who then allow the large, multinational corporations to utilize the cheap labor power and natural resources of that country. In other words, drugs have a definite relationship to child labor, sweatshops, environmental pollution, etc.
It should be mentioned that the CIA has a history of facilitating not only cocaine smuggling, but heroin and opium smuggling as well. The CIA used its airline called Air America to fly out heroin for the Hmong people in Indochina. The reciprocal agreement was that the Hmong people would fight the communists and the CIA would transport and market their drugs. Naturally, the first market was the GIs in Vietnam, many of whom became addicted to heroin. Previously, the CIA transported heroin for the Nationalist Chinese, who were attempting to invade China from Burma after their defeat by the Chinese communists. The CIA allowed the Afghan warlords to smuggle their opiates as part of the war against the socialist government in Afghanistan and subsequently, the war against the Soviet Union, when they invaded Afghanistan. After World War 2, the CIA gave the Sicilian and Corsican Mafia control over the heroin trade in Europe in return for the use of their thugs to break up the radical, communist dockworker's unions in Italy and France.
It is obvious that the drug trade can have several advantages for imperialism. It can help win the support of disaffected ethnic groups or gangsters in the worldwide war against leftists and the prevention of socialism coming into existence anywhere and proving a viable alternative to capitalism. It provides a source of enrichment for the ruling elites in client-states, who reciprocate by allowing multinational corporations to use the natural resources and labor power of that country with no regard to wages, working conditions, safety regulations or environmental protection. It further enriches the large banks, who launder a lot of drug money. Finally, it is useful in altering the mental state of poor people in the imperial country, who might get ideas about organizing and rebelling against their oppression.
If the "War on Drugs" is a sham and the real reasons involve imperialism, one might logically wonder what all the billions of dollars spent on this phony war are all about. For one thing, it allows the imprisonment of a great number of poor African-American and Latino youths, who might otherwise be organizing themselves like the Black Panthers and Young Lords did in the 1960s. It is another method of reducing dissent besides altering the mental state of these people with drugs. As proof of the desire to incarcerate poor people of color, notice the vast difference in jail time for possession of crack cocaine used by poor people compared to that of possession of powder cocaine used by the rich. Another reason for the so-called War on Drugs is that capitalist governments must retain their legitimacy in the opinion of people. They can't be seen as doing everything for corporations and nothing for the public. Drug use is a large problem in the United States, and the government must be seen as making efforts to combat it, even though the CIA issues get out of jail free cards to drug dealers in their war on leftists to preserve the great wealth and power of the ruling class in the United States. Incidentally, wars that are often seen as involving geopolitical concerns or racism are often partly wars on leftists. The Indonesian invasion of East Timor and the green light given by Ford and Kissinger for the invasion was partly motivated by a leftist party called Fretilin being in power in East Timor. The US support of Turkey's war against the Kurds was also a war against the PKK or Kurdistan Workers Party, a leftist organization.
In summary, the billions and billions of dollars spent on this phony drug war is simply money down a rat hole as far as helping the public is concerned. There is no intention of winning this war. If drugs were eliminated completely and the multibillion dollar drug trade simply disappeared, it would be disastrous to international banks and the world economy, presently in a very severe recession. However, the pretense of a war against drugs must go on to reassure the public.
I suspect that the revelations in this article are shocking to some people and they wonder where the information comes from, since the corporate media have been very assiduous in ignoring and marginalizing these facts. Some of this information is public record, having been revealed by the Church and Kerry Senate committees, which were investigating the CIA and drugs. Other information comes from books like Lost History by Robert Parry, The Big White Lie by Michael Levine, The Politics of Heroin by Alfred McCoy and Killing Hope by William Blum.