Moscow Times

Global Eye -- Gainspotting
"Axis of evil" speech not a mistake - follow the money

30 November 2001

By Chris Floyd

Among the isolated, out-of-step losers who dare open their mouths to mutter "doubts" about America's military campaign in Afghanistan, you will sometimes hear the traitorous comment: "This war is just about oil."

We here at the Global Eye take stern exception to such cynical tommyrot. No one who has made a clear and dispassionate assessment of the situation in the region could possibly say the new Afghan war is "just about oil."

It's also about drugs.

For although we must now hail the warlords of the Northern Alliance as noble defenders of civilization, the fact is that for some time they have also functioned as one of the world's biggest drug-dealing operations. Indeed, one of the main sticking points between the holy warriors of the alliance and their ideological brethren in the Taliban has been control of the profitable poppy, which by God's grace grows so plentifully in a land otherwise bereft of natural resources. (Always excepting the production of corpses.)

In the good old days, when the mujahedin were united against the Soviet devil, all shared equally in the drug-running trade, under the benevolent eye of that great lubricator of illicit commerce, the CIA. When the Northern Alliance was driven from Kabul -- having killed 50,000 of the city's inhabitants during its civilized rule -- the Taliban seized the lion's share of Afghanistan's opium production. The noble lords managed to hold on to several prize fields in the north, however, and together with avaricious Taliban, they helped fuel a worldwide rise in heroin traffic.

Earlier this year, the U.S. administration bribed the Taliban to stop growing opium -- a most effective use of baksheesh, according to the United Nations, which found that Afghan opium production dropped from 3,300 tons annually to less than 200. But the Northern Alliance leapt manfully into the breach, engineering a threefold rise in opium output in its territory this year.

Now the bountiful southern fields are also there for the plucking. For war-ravaged Afghan farmers, the "market realities" are clear: they can plant wheat, and get 20 bucks per hectare, or plant opium and pull down $8,000 in hard cash for the same fields. Needless to say, the poppy replanting has already begun. Come harvest time, the drug lords -- sorry, the noble warlords -- will take their cut and ship the dope off to pollute the minds of decadent infidels in the West. Ah, the spoils of victory!

Hey, maybe their CIA buddies will help coordinate the shipments. Those guys are killer when it comes to covert logistics.


After all, as U.S. Attorney General "Jailin' John" Ashcroft tells us, the "war on terrorism" is just like "the war on drugs" -- that is to say, a never-ending fount of profitable corruption for the ruthless, the murderous and the well-connected.

Certainly, the "war on drugs" makes little sense otherwise. We all know that if the ingestion of various arbitrarily chosen substances were no longer prosecuted, the level of violence, crime and repression in society would be reduced immeasurably. "Substance abuse" would then become what is it is now for drugs like alcohol and nicotine: a matter of personal character and private consequence.

A crack addict, for example, could have his nightly pipe in the safety of his own home, for the same price as a six-pack of beer, a carton of cigarettes, or the latest Disney video. He wouldn't need to resort to crime to feed an expensive criminalized habit. And his resulting stupefaction would be no more harmful to the public good than that of millions of his fellow citizens sitting slack-jawed in front of the tube.

But decriminalization will never happen. Illegal drugs are simply too profitable for the various powerful criminal elements known as "mafias," "warlords" -- and "intelligence agencies." For drug-running is the perfect way to fund your black ops -- no budget restraints, no legal niceties, no pesky legislators looking over your shoulder.

That's how they did it back in those high old Iran-Contra days, as investigator Robert Parry reports on Buried in the papers of that thwarted investigation are outright admissions of CIA connivance with the drug dealers who helped finance the murderous Reagan-Bush terrorist network in Latin America.

This is -- in part -- what Bush Jr. is covering up with his recent autocratic edict sealing past presidential papers. And the fact that his Daddy lied about his own involvement in the criminal enterprise -- lies that he drowned certain fathoms deep by pardoning his co-conspirators. Some of these criminal connivers with drug-running now hold high office in the new Bush administration.

You know, the one that "restored honor and integrity" to the White House.

Bottom Line

Let's connect the dots. Drugs help stoke war. Defense firms sell the weapons of war -- to governments, warlords, terrorists, whoever will pay. The investors and owners of defense firms -- like, say, the Bush family and the bin Ladens -- are directly enriched by war. And so the wars go on.

For every American soldier killed, for every Afghan child murdered, George W. Bush adds a few more dollars to his inheritance. His former business associates, the bin Ladens -- whom he protected by stifling FBI investigations into their activities, while also crippling probes into Saudi funding of al-Qaida and other terrorist groups -- will do quite nicely as well.

Nu, what can you say? Such is the eternal way of the world, where "oft 'tis seen, the wicked prize itself buys out the law." So it was in Babylon, so it was in Rome; so it was in Jerusalem, Mecca, Peking and Thebes. The ruthless, the murderous and the well-connected carry it away.

Victorious Warlords Open Opium Floodgates - The Observer, Nov. 25, 2001

Warlords Set to Reap Profits of Poppy Harvest - The Times (London), Nov. 26, 2001

Unholy Alliance - The Toronto Star, Oct. 7, 2001 - Oct. 15, 1998

Investigations of the White House: George Bush - Final Report of the Independent Counsel on Iran-Contra

Oil Policy Muddled Pursuit of Bin Laden - New York Times, Nov. 12, 2001

Bin Laden Money Flow Leads to Midland, Texas - In These Times, October 2001

US Taliban Policy Influenced by Oil - Inter Press Service, Nov. 15, 2001

Elder Bush Toiling for Top Equity Firm - The New York Times, March 5, 2001