At the broadest level, the past half-century taught me that drugs aren’t just drugs, drug dealers aren’t just “pushers,” and drug users aren’t just “junkies” (that is, outcasts of no consequence). Illicit medications are major worldwide commodities that continue to steadily influence US politics, both national and international. And our drug wars create profitable covert netherworlds by which those very drugs flourish and become even more profitable. Certainly, the UN once estimated that the transnational traffic, which supplied medications to 4.2 percent of the world’s adult population, was a $400 billion industry, making up 8 percent of global trade.
In methods few seem to know, illicit drugs have had a profound impact on modern America, shaping our international politics, national elections, and domestic social relations. Yet an atmosphere that illicit drugs belong to a marginalized demimonde has made US drug policy the sole property of law enforcement and not healthcare, education, or metropolitan development.
At its core, this netherworld was then and is today a hidden political world inhabited by criminal actors and practitioners. Offering some feeling of the scale of this social milieu, in 1997 the UN reported that transnational crime syndicates had 3.3 million members around the world who trafficked in drugs, arms, humans, and endangered species. Meanwhile, through the Cold War, all the major powers—Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States—deployed expanded clandestine services worldwide, making covert operations the main element of geopolitical power. The end of the Cold War has in no way changed this reality.
As you would expect, the US invasion and occupation of 2001–02 failed to efficiently deal with the drug situation. To start to capture the Taliban-controlled money, Kabul, the CIA mobilized Northern Alliance leaders who had long dominated the Drug trade in northeastern Afghanistan, also Pashtun warlords active as drug smugglers pushed into the southeastern area of the country. In the process, they created a postwar politics ideal for the expansion of opium cultivation.
Even though output surged in the 1st 36 months of the united states occupation, Washington remained uninterested, resisting something that might damage military operations against Taliban guerrillas. Testifying to this policy’s failure, the UN’s Afghanistan Opium Survey 2007 reported that the harvest that year reached a record 8,200 tons, generating 53 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and accounting for 93 percent of this world’s illicit narcotics supply.
When just one commodity represents over half a nation’s economy, everyone—officials, rebels, merchants, and traffickers—is directly or indirectly implicated. In 2016, The NY Times reported that both Taliban rebels and provincial officials opposing them were locked in a fight for control regarding the lucrative drug traffic in Helmand province, the supply of nearly half the country’s opium. A year later, the harvest reached a record 9,000 tons, which, in conjunction with the US command, provided 60 percent of the Taliban’s funding. Desperate to cut that funding, American commanders dispatched F-22 fighters and B-52 bombers to destroy the insurgency’s heroin laboratories in Helmand—doing inconsequential damage up to a handful of crude labs and revealing the impotence of even the most effective weaponry against the social energy of the covert drug netherworld.
More information and insight into The so-called War on Drugs particulars can be found here https://www.thenation.com/article/alfred-mccoy-washington-drug-war-ruining-world/re