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THE POLITICS OF HEROIN by Alfred W. McCoy

THE POLITICS OF HEROIN

CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade

By Alfred W. McCoy

Pub Date: July 1st, 1991
ISBN: 1-55652-125-1

 A greatly revised and expanded edition of McCoy's Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia (1972--not reviewed). Though he devotes much of his narrative to a history of modern commerce in narcotics, rather than, as the subtitle indicates, CIA complicity in the drug trade, McCoy tells a fascinating story. He shows that in the ``Golden Triangle'' of Laos, Thailand, and Burma, opium was big business and, often, the only viable form of currency. McCoy argues that, in their efforts to expand their own power in Southeast Asia, American intelligence agents permitted allies of the US (the Hmong tribe in Southeast Asia, for instance, which was vital to the CIA's secret war in Laos and which sold heroin to American GIs) to expand their lucrative drug trade. In the wake of the Vietnam War, McCoy contends, a similar relationship developed between American authorities and the contras of Central America. Drug-enforcement agencies sought the arrest of drug merchants often associated with the contras, while the CIA, viewing the contras as indispensable ideological allies in the war against Communism, did their best to thwart the vaunted ``war on drugs.'' The author produces considerable disturbing evidence that US authorities are guilty at least of complicity in the global drug trade, and argues convincingly that the drug problem at home will not end until a fundamental change is made in American policy. McCoy exposes basic hypocrisy in American policymaking, and demonstrates that, as long as powerful government bureaucracies work at cross-purposes, America's drug problem will not be easily solved.