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Third World Quarterly

The War on Drugs: A New US National Security Doctrine?
Author(s): Waltraud Queiser Morales
Source: Third World Quarterly, Vol. 11, No. 3 (Jul., 1989), pp. 147-169
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
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a new



During the twentieth century anticommunism has served effectively as
the cornerstone of US national security doctrines. Anticommunism has
functioned as an ideology and a secular religion which has legitimised
both legal and illegal, moral and immoral acts of foreign policy in the
cause of national survival-the protection of democracy and the American way of life. Decades before the enactment of the 1947 National
Security Act and associated legislation which legalised the harassment,
imprisonment and execution of 'leftists', 'radicals', 'communists' and
'fellow travellers', the fear of Bolshevism, anarchism and syndicalism
fuelled the witch hunt mentality that has plagued and dehumanised
mankind from Biblical times through the Middle Ages to the McCarthy
era of the 1950s.
By the 1980s, however, a problem had developed. Anticommunism
was losing its 'fear' potential. An increasing number of intellectuals,
academics, policy-makers and even the general public were questioning
the rhetoric in relation to the political reality. Rapprochement with the
PRC, the Vietnam War, and glasnost and perestroika in the USSR were
some of the unsettling international events which threatened the old
consensus. This scepticism was undermining the largely unimpeded control over foreign policy which the foreign policy m-anagershad exerted
until most recently, causing them to talk of 'the new nationalism' and
'the unitary institutional outlet for policy', euphemisms for presidentialism versus 'repluralisation'.I Vietnam and the 'Vietnam syndrome' had been one significant watershed.2 Americans had taken
seriously the official mythology of democracy and had exercised their
rights of public opinion and protest-on the streets, in Canada and
underground when necessary-to exert their influence over foreign
policy. The result was a growing movement towards the democratisation
of foreign policy, and the popular opposition to another Vietnam-style
I R J Barnet, Intervention and Revolution: America's confrontation with insurgent movements

around the world, New York: Meridian, 1968; and B A Rockman, 'Mobilizing Political Support',
in G C Edwards III and W E Walker (eds), National Security and the US Constitution: the impact of thepolitical system, Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988, p 13.
2 M T Klare, Beyond the 'Vietnam Syndrome': US interventionismin the 1980s, Washington DC:
Institute for Policy Studies, 1981.
TWQ 11(3) July 1989/ISSN 0143-6597/89. $1.25

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The article also argued that it was unclear whether there had been an actual increase in drug use in the 1980s since statistics were so unreliable. p 161. A CBS news poll found in March 1988 that almost 50 per cent of the respondents believed drug trafficking to be the most important foreign policy issue. demonstrated the impotence and corruption of the declining North American empire. and numerous military exercises and war games throughout the Western hemisphere and the Third World). the 'covert' war against Nicaragua.37. Philadelphia. But the strategy seemed to fail. The aborted overthrow of the Panamanian dictator. secrecy. Never Again: learningfrom America'sforeign policy failures. Journal of InteramericanStudies and WorldAffairs 30 (1) spring 1988. B M Bagley.4 A September 1988 'Americans Talk Security' opinion survey 3 E C Ravenal. 29 Dec 2015 15:47:27 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . A WashingtonPost/ABC news poll in May 1988 found that 26 per cent of the respondents ranked drugs as the most important problem facing the USA today versus 8 per cent for the runner-up issues of the economy and budget deficit. 'The new Hundred Years War? US national security and the war on drugs in Latin America'. even over terrorism and arms control. 1978. the Iran-Contra affair. the militarisation of El Salvador and Honduras. The USA attempted to direct a potentially new national security doctrine at him: the war on drugs. became more necessary as anticommunism ceased to serve as the automatic legitimating doctrine of the US national security state. and it posed a fundamental problem for national security: credibility. and renewed militarism and intervention (the 1983 invasion of Grenada. General Noriega of Panama. 'Never Again'. a source of internal instability and a threat to the entire Southern Command structure. or whether the matter was 'exaggerated for partisan advantage' 148 This content downloaded from 128. Ironically an old US ally. The attempt was but a partial success. the presence of marines in Lebanon. now a political embarrassment. There was a desperate need for a new national security doctrine that would be more persuasive than the war on communism. Penn4 sylvania: Temple University Press. corruption and drug involvement of the intelligence and military agents of US foreign policy.5 on Tue. Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report 46 (26) 25 June 1988. p 1713.3 Conservatives interpreted the 'Vietnam syndrome' as a loss of nerve. and a strong candidate was the war on drugs. How could the USA remain the gang leader of the Western bloc against the Soviets and the instability they inspired in the Third World if the threat of intervention might no longer be believed? Between 1980 and 1988 the Reagan administration sought to exorcise this erosion of control and crisis of credibility with carefully orchestrated displays of 'public diplomacy'. 'Experts skeptical of Congress' anti-drug effort'. inherent in these agencies from inception.THIRD WORLD QUARTERLY intervention expressed in the Liberal slogan. exposed the crime.226. Corruption and secrecy. C C Lawrence and S Gettinger.

American National Security: policy and process. As the meaning (and practice) of national security expanded with the rise of the national security state. poverty. National Survey No 8. In the last three decades. pp 12.THE WAR ON DRUGS revealed that 44 per cent of the voters ranked international drug trafficking as an extremely serious threat.37. Baltimore. the military-industrial complex and the conservative establishment confused traditional (and relatively narrow) national security interests with 'national security ideology'. September 1988.5 Therefore. as defined by defence specialists. This expanded concept and usage of national security supported 5 See Americans Talk Security. but virtually unlimited interests and 'threats' abroad. Jr. and to cloak ideologically all government actions. even illegal ones. Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1981. p 45. with the US flag. 29 Dec 2015 15:47:27 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the self-serving.'6 'National security'. such as racism. Martilla & Kiley. At home this unrealistically totalitarian concept of national security encouraged elites to view internal dissent as yet another threat to be suppressed. the more extensive concept of the protection of political and economic interests considered essential by those who exercise political power to the fundamental values and the vitality of the state. first entails defence in its narrowest concept-the protection of a nation's people and territories from physical attack. inequality and political corruption. Often more insidious internal threats to the national well-being. the concept of 'national security' has no agreed definitions. and second. the concept became broader still. Thus 'national' security became 'globalised' security encompassing not only real or alleged external military and defence concerns. I can wrap the flag around this policy. and use patriotism as a club to silence the critics. 'Public evaluation of Pentagon waste and US foreign aid policies'. until foreign and domestic policy almost completely overlapped. 6 Quoted in A A Jordan and W J Taylor. compared to 18 per cent for the threat of Soviet military strength. often unexamined rhetoric and rationales that disguise militarism and discourage democratic scrutiny in the name of national security. the question is whether the drug war can serve as a new national security doctrine. were dismissed in preference for bogus or exaggerated external dangers. as US policy-makers became increasingly involved in a more interdependent. As former president Lyndon Johnson once bragged: 'I can arouse a great mass of people with a very simple kind of appeal.226. 149 This content downloaded from 128. What is a national security doctrine? Entering into general usage only after 1947.5 on Tue. 56. chaotic and threatening world.

the NSS. which is the product of the modern. 9 US Joint Chiefs of Staff. N Chomsky and E S Herman. and S Landau. p 3.THIRD WORLD QUARTERLY the rise of the 'national security state' (NSS).37. has had to rely more heavily upon secrecy precisely because of the communications revolution that has made secrecy more difficult to achieve. One critic interprets this to mean that 'doctrine represents the basic precepts that determine how US forces are armed. Pennsylvania: Temple University Press. censorship. The mammoth modern national security state has 'totally transformed the relationship of the citizen and the state'.7 Ironically. but it is also covert to 'avoid the constitutional processes of deliberation' on war-making. 'Losing moral ground. technological. The Dangerous Doctrine: national security and US foreign policy. 1979. despite and because of more stringent constitutional restrictions on war-making and intelligence operations.and repressionin the 1980s.226.5 on Tue. p 4. and to circumvent the will of Congress-all in the name of "national security".8 The concept of a 'national security doctrine' (NSD) has various meanings. 1982. 150 This content downloaded from 128. directly controlled by military elites whose ideology combines elements of Nazism with pre-Enlightenment notions of hierarchy and "natural inequality". protection and expansion of a global empire after World War II.' R J Barnet. See also R 0 Curry (ed). Sojournersreprint No 492. 1988 (an excellent collection of essays on the infringement of constitutional rights via national security). in M T Klare and P Kornbluh. pp 252-63. Under the national security state and the reigning national security doctrine. Freedom at Risk: secrecy. day to day principles of war. Saul Landau traced the historical roots of the US national security state to US expansionism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. p 51. Boston: South End Press. which aspired to world power after World War I and to the establishment. 8 For example. the NSS has created a 'world of overt covert operations'. As a result. a credible national security doctrine is especially essential to justify in moral terms to policy-makers and the public state actions which would be immoral if perpetrated by individuals. Philadelphia. Colorado: Westview Press. The Real Terror Network: terrorism in fact and propaganda. the President has unprecedented power 'to censor. New York: Pantheon Books. Boulder. Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky described these as 'Third World fascist clones. 1988. the foundations of US foreign policy'. as quoted by Klare. the 'operation is deliberately overt in order to put maximum pressure on the Sandinistas'. 'The interventionist impulse: US military doctrine for low-intensity warfare'. the 'overt-covert' war in Nicaragua has become impossible to hide from powerful news media. The US Department of Defense defines a doctrine as the 'fundamental principles by which the military forces or elements thereof guide their actions in support of national objectives'. trained and organised for the conduct of military operations': it forms the middle ground between a nation's broad geopolitical objectives and the basic. Moreover. 1988. communications age. to conduct surveillance on US citizens. by appropriating to one man and his small clique of advisers the power of war and peace. This 'reason of state' doctrine (fascist in the fundamental sense of the word) was institutionally protected by the National Security Act of 1947 (then secret) and later decrees which 'placed the governance of critical foreign and defense policies in the hands of new institutions: a national security apparatus run by national security managers'. Moreover.' These military elites interpret any challenge to the status quo as communist subversion of the state. The Washington Connectionand Third WorldFascism. Low Intensity Warfare. 29 Dec 2015 15:47:27 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . pp 2-3. E S Herman.9 Another By means of military assistance and training the USA also exported national security state models abroad. Boston: South End Press.

empowerment of national security managers. 151 This content downloaded from 128. Before a joint session of Congress President Carter declared that any attempt by an outside force 'to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States'. Low Intensity Warfare. The Carter doctrine forecast 'energy wars' to achieve US energy security. M T Klare. subject to a higher morality whereby the end justifies the means. While this was the origin of the Reagan doctrine. In 1981 the Brown doctrine of former secretary of defence.5 on Tue. and the safety of our homeland would be put at jeopardy. we cannot expect to prevail elsewhere. and the creation of the doctrine of national security as the 'national security myth'. The Haig doctrine propounded by former secretary of state. organisation of the national security state and its institutional apparatus.37. it was more fully expressed in the President's 1985 State of the Union address which promised to aid anticommunist 'freedom fighters' on 'every continent'. 27 April 1983. Doctrine functions like religious dogma. an unwillingness or inability on the part of US policy-makers and party leaders to offer an honest choice to the public-imperialism or republicanism-led to the rise of the doctrine of national security. warned of counter-insurgency in a turbulent and revolution-prone Third World.226. the unofficial and often 'higher' cause that has guided US policy for the last forty years'. Our credibility would collapse. 11 S Landau. resource and energy wars and international terrorism. . stating that military strength may become the 'only recourse' of the USA 'in dealing with the basic causes of disorder in this tumultuous world'. The Reagan doctrine attempted to employ this mechanism to legitimise US intervention and hegemony in Central America: 'The national security of all the Americas is at stake in Central America. The Dangerous Doctrine. Alexander 10 S Landau.p 63. Harold Brown. criticism becomes tantamount to heresy. quoting President Reagan's speech to a joint session of Congress. The Dangerous Doctrine.10 When the prevailing national security doctrine is credible it deflects dissent as a direct threat to the state itself and the way of life of its citizens. pp xiii. 2-4. If we cannot defend ourselves there.THE WAR ON DRUGS views NSD as synonymous with the ideology of national security: C. The NSD was the logical conclusion to a chain of events: the 1947 National Security Act. our alliances would crumble. p 142..'11 National security doctrines:all for one and one for all Since the 1970s the master doctrine of anticommunism has been combined with various subsidiary NSDS which identify immediate dangers or specific enemies: Third World revolutions. 29 Dec 2015 15:47:27 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .

'Lick low intensity conflict doublespeak'. 'Low-intensity conflict: concepts. pp 42-51. Reagan's Ambassador to Costa Rica. economic. Similarly. that Soviet low-level conflict will be the immediate threat. 'proinsurgency' to support anti-communist insurgencies in the Third World. Specific missions are: counter-insurgency to assist friendly governments resist insurgency. and policy guidelines'. or psychological objectives' which may use protracted struggle. in the media. antidrug operations using military resources. known as the doctrine of low intensity conflict (LIC). pp 17-48. 55-56. based on a spectrum of conflict from high to low. by sanitising terms and pretending to renounce intervention by US troops (p 48). not Europe. 13 M T Klare and P Kornbluh. a new strategic military doctrine-like the earlier military doctrines of containment. particularly El Salvador and Nicaragua. S Miles. and peacekeeping operations. radical critics dispute whether LIC is a new. The LIC doctrine has set off a heated debate within the military establishment between proponents who argue that it is classical counter-insurgency doctrine used in Vietnam and those who describe it as a fundamentally new strategy based on the lessons learned. which pledged support (short of US combat forces) to anti-Soviet Third World 'freedom fighters' and 'friendly' anti-communist authoritarians. Zeta Magazine 2 (3) March 1989. Despite its name. the strategy of LIC and the reassertion of covert action. flexible response and counterinsurgency-was formulated. focused on the struggle for scarce resources in the Third World and asserted that 'resource wars' could threaten the vital national security of the USA by denying access to strategic minerals. the war on drugs is emerging as a powerful new political doctrine under the anti-communist ideology.12 In the 1980s the Reagan doctrine. and p 23 quote from Lewis Tambs. peacetime contingency operations. H Sklar. US intelligence agents were instrumental in the establishment of the 'Golden Triangle' supply system in Southeast Asia and the Marseilles 'French Connection'. co-founded by a former CIA operative and steeped in a trail of drugs and money laundering. and opponents who support conventional and/or nuclear deterrence strategy. assumes perpetual war. The term LIC.226. principles. terrorism and insurgency. S C Sarkesian.pp 16. wherein victory involves winning 'three battles-in the field. Beginning with heroin.5 on Tue. 12 M T Klare.THIRD WORLD QUARTERLY Haig. LIC actually represents total and interventionary war. rollback. 29 Dec 2015 15:47:27 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . pp 2-11. Sklar argues that "'Low Intensity Conflict" is an effort to relegitimate and modernise US elites' capacity to impose their will by violent means'.13 Recently. In 1985 the Pentagon defined low intensity conflict as 'a limited politico-military struggle to achieve political. became preoccupied with Central America. more dangerous doctrine or propaganda-'LICSPEAK'-for total war and overt or covert intervention. Low Intensity Warfare.pp 53. In order to implement this political objective. 152 This content downloaded from 128. ostensibly in the interests of national security. 50. Similarly the scandals of the Australian bank. massive retaliation. terrorism counteraction. and in Washington within the administration'. 30. social. 'The real war: low- intensity conflict in Central America'. Beyond the 'VietnamSyndrome'. Air University Review 26 (2) 1985.37. is the real battlefield. NACLA Report on the Americas 20 (2) April/May 1986. and that the Third World. Nugan Hand Ltd.

1980. In the absence of reliable repatriation studies. and H Kruger. half of which is thought to enter and remain in the USA. Worldwide drug traffic may account for $300 billion. of which less than half may remain in the country. for example another source cites that: the international drug trade is worth approximately $47 billion per annum. 1984. estimates 6 million habitual cocaine users and half a million heroin users in the USA. the US drug enforcement budget remains woefully inadequate and there is much disagreement over how J Kwitny. 1988.14 The intricate plots and subplots cannot all be examined. and the retail value $150 billion.226. It is believed that the wholesale value of all illegal drugs in the USA may be $25 billion. The Crimes of Patriots: a true tale of dope. In Banks We Trust. that this intimacy could facilitate the manipulation of the war against drugs in the interests of the national security state. Journal of InteramericanStudies. Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs 29 (2) summer 1987. the value of cocaine and marijuana exports probably exceeds $4 billion annually. based on 1988 Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) figures.15 Major country suppliers are in Latin America. The drug war as national security doctrine The geographic. there are an estimated 1. 'The CIA and drugs'. and the CIA. economic and social dimensions of the drug trade are enormous and growing. pp 1-68. may have received $1-2 billion in foreign exchange from drug profits (3 per cent of Colombia's GNP) in 1987. 60. vary widely.37. 6 R B Craig. the principal cocaine refiner (an estimated 75 per cent). B M Bagley. New York: Touchstone. and are often suspect. and international fascism. pp 163-7. p 25. see special issue. New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday. The Great Heroin Coup: drugs. New York: Foreign Policy Association. 14 153 This content downloaded from 128. see also J G Tokatlian. One source. 'Illicit Drug Traffic: implications for South America source countries'. Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs 30 (1) spring 1988. intelligence.2 million addicts of illegal drugs in the USA. 'The new Hundred Years War?'. Boston: South End Press. Colombia. pp 146-159. pp 63-168. P Lernoux. summer 1987. p 23. Foreign Policy Association. B M Bagley.5 billion in fiscal 1988. A Citizen's Guide to US Foreign Policy: election '88. 1987. pp 57-58. While no one really knows how much the Medellin cartel earns. Covert Action InformationBulletin 28. 16 In relation to the enormous profits. 29 Dec 2015 15:47:27 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .THE WAR ON DRUGS prefigured the larger web of the Iran-Contra scandals. 'The new Hundred Years War?'. and US spending on drug law enforcement increased from $800 million in fiscal 1981 to $2. generally only 10 per cent of drug profits are thought to accrue to source or transit countries. dirty money. but the statistics which document this meteoric rise are difficult to acquire. and second.5 on Tue. Estimates vary widely. but it seems worth arguing first that US intelligence services have long had an intimate relationship with the drug underworld. 'National security and drugs: their impact on Colombia-US relations'.

pp 3146-51. see '1988 AntiDrug Bill'. not drugs.ibid.226. and regulation of the export of chemicals used in the manufacture of controlled substances. Two charges are common from legislative critics on both the left and the right: preoccupation with communists. 18 The Bill 'waives.9 billion. p 3147. Communists aren't killing our kids. National Journal 18. p 20. there has not been a real war. See 'Major provisions of the 1988 AntiDrug Bill'. PL 100-690 (HR 5210). 1986. 'Budget'. a controversial 1975 law that bars US aid to foreign police agencies. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office.THIRD WORLD QUARTERLY to distribute the monies.17 Of this. 29 Dec 2015 15:47:27 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Weekly Report 46 (44) 29 October 1988. for purposes of the anti-narcotics program. 'Hill members turn up pressure in war on drugs'. quoted in M Mills. It also introduced more stringent law-enforcement measures. CongressionalQuarterly.37. a 17 per cent increase over fiscal 1989. only $500 million was appropriated in fiscal 1989. On The Omnibus Drug Bill or 1988 Anti-Drug Bill.5 million in military assistance.5 million for defence department drug control training and weapons assistance. 'International narcotics control strategy report'. but because of legislated spending limits. how does the threat of international narcotics relate to US national security and its new national security doctrine? The answer lies in the pronouncements and the actions of policy-makers since the drug war heated up between 1986 and 1988. drugs and drug traffickers are'. p 252.5 billion in fiscal 1990 outlays for the anti-drug programme. US Congress House Committee on Foreign Affairs. For further background see US General Accounting Office 'Drug control: issues surrounding increased use of the military in drug interdiction'. second session. it also earmarks $2 million for defence department antinarcotics training of foreign police forces and $3. The Bush administration proposed $5. ninety-ninth congress. Narcotics and International Communications. 7 154 This content downloaded from 128. p 944. prevention and education). Drugs have not been the priority that public officials said they were'.. pp 2104-9.19 In the light of the problem. Congressional Quarterly 46 (15) 9 April 1988. complained that administration officials 'don't want to talk about drugs. 'The Pentagon's Drug Wars'. US Department of State. and D C Morrison. 6 September 1986. 19 Senator John Kerry (Democrat-Massachusetts). the waiver is allowed only for countries that have democratic governments and for police agencies that do not engage in a "consistent pattern of gross violations" of human rights'. The bill divided resources equally between drug-supply (interdiction and control) and demand-reduction programmes (treatment. a 21 per cent increase over comparable fiscal 1989 programmes. 'Role of the US military in narcotics control overseas'. international banking and money-laundering restrictions. signed into law by President Reagan on 18 November 1988. said: 'despite all of the talk about a war on drugs. providing $5. chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Terrorism. They want to talk about arms and communists and terrorists . April 1988. and talk about drugs. and Congressman Charles B Rangel (Democrat-New York). Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. established in the executive office of the president the new Office of National Drug Control Policy headed by a cabinet-level director to coordinate national drug control efforts. such as the death penalty for major drug traffickers. p 20. he could advise the National Security Council (Nsc) and attend NSC meetings at the president's direction.. $101 million was authorised for international narcotics control for fiscal 1989. March 1988. CongressionalQuarterly. Congressional Quarterly 27 (6) 11 February 1989. but little action. President Bush appointed William Bennett as the first so-called 'drug czar'. total outlays proposed specifically for anti-drug enforcement are $3.18 Members of Congress have been frustrated with the Reagan administration's record in the drug war. The 1988 Omnibus Drug Bill authorised over $2 billion in new spending for anti-drug activities. chairman of the House Narcotics Committee.5 on Tue. However.

2 1 The escalation in the war on drugs in 1988 coincided with major foreign policy setbacks in Latin America: 'the collapse of US counter-revolutionary strategy in Central America'. Zeta Magazine 2 (1) January 1989. prosecution of the 20 21 22 Colonel J D Waghelstein.22 Implementation of the drug war doctrine assumed different (often contradictory) dimensions in each case depending upon changing perceptions and priorities. The war on drugs also served multiple agendas. when the US Ambassador to Colombia. Low Intensity Warfare. On the practical level. Both the Reagan and Bush administrations could use the drug war national security doctrine to generate public support behind a resurgent. militarised drug operations provided a laboratory to project US power. Military Review February 1987. p 73. For the supporters of LIC. 'The war on drugs'. Some points here from M Rabine. President Reagan signed a secret directive in April 1986 that identified the illegal traffic as a national security threat and authorised the Department of Defence to engage in numerous antidrug operations. p 94. 155 This content downloaded from 128.5 on Tue. 'A Latin-American insurgency status report'. p 94.20The connection was forcefully made after a large cocaine bust in 1984. Other governmental agencies fighting the drug traffic (such as the DEA and the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics Matters) acquired or expanded paramilitary and intelligence capabilities. interventionist US foreign policy in Latin America. Zeta.THE WAR ON DRUGS the rhetorical level there was a conscious effort by the government to convince the American public and the US Congress of the intimate linkage between drug traffickers and leftist guerrillas. such as which national security interests were really being pursued as opposed to those that were 'ideologised' or manipulated. instability in Panama over the recalcitrant Noriega. Peru and Honduras. transfer military hardware and gather intelligence.226. In cases where counter-revolution and counter-insurgency were paramount. Low Intensity Warfare. a 'new stage of crisis' in the counter-insurgency against revolutionaries in Colombia and Peru.37. and calling for 'the necessary support to counter the guerrilla/narcotics terrorists in this hemisphere'. 'The war on drugs'. train local militaries in the new strategic doctrine. such as Colombia. 29 Dec 2015 15:47:27 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . and 'dollars accrued to the drug dealers find their way into some guerrilla coffers'. Lewis Tambs. Congress saw the doctrine as a way to reassert influence and bipartisanism over foreign policy by being 'hard on drugs'. and intractable drug control problems in Bolivia. charged that production facilities had been protected by communist insurgents or 'narcoguerrillas'. and fn 89 p 229: 'There is an alliance between some drug traffickers and some insurgents'. pp 46-7. M T Klare and P Kornbluh. quoted by M T Klare and P Kornbluh.pp 71-3. and the mix of domestic political constraints. M Rabine. Mexico and Peru.

The Nation 245 (5) 29 August 1987. 156 This content downloaded from 128.226. like Bolivia. In Panama. drugs and the contras'. J Kwitny. I Hilton and N Ascherson. Panama was treated as a rogue dictatorship. In Bolivia from 1971-78 the government of General Hugo Banzer became involved with notorious drug lords in Santa Cruz Department. however. M Linklater. US Conservatives supported Latin military hardliners who opposed leftist forces and/or were amenable to war games and LIC experiments under the guise of the drug war. Klaus Barbie and the International Fascist Connection. pp 145. Rogue dictators In two cases of destabilisation against rightist military dictatorships the war on drugs replaced anticommunism as a powerful propaganda and control weapon.24 The 'drug 23 24 The strongmen included Omar Torrijos in Panama and Bolivia's Hugo Banzer. New York: Holt. The Real TerrorNetwork. 29 Dec 2015 15:47:27 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Bolivia was relatively easy because there were no other overriding or contradictory security interests. Generally. US intimacy with military strongmen in both countries for two decades helped create these rogue drug dictatorships of the 1980s. and by 1980 to fight the war on communism in Central America. 162-6. The general's coup against the elected Bolivian government of Siles Zuazo 'joined together cocaine and National Security State thuggery and terror'. 'An inquiry: money. pp 266-84. drug corruption was initially overlooked for broader so-called geopolitical and strategic concerns. indeed the rogue dictatorship itself was the greatest threat. In the absence of an immediate leftist threat-as in Panama and Bolivia-the drug war was variously waged with vigour or manipulated to legitimise US military intervention and secret strategic designs. 1984. In Panama the drug war doctrine backfired. Ironically. Rinehart & Winston.THIRD WORLD QUARTERLY drug war often remained in the background and was manipulated to win congressional and public support while fighting the 'real' war on communism. but was saved from arrest because of national security interests. When the exposure of drug corruption became too explosive. The Nazi Legacy.37.23 Bolivia One of the first cases in which the drug war doctrine was employed in the interests of US foreign policy was in 1980 against the drug mafia government of General Luis Garcia Meza in Bolivia. p 80. E S Herman.5 on Tue. compromising other security interests and transforming the unsavoury dictator into another Latin American 'hero' who thumbed his nose at the USA. In 1972 the brother of then Panamanian ruler General Omar Torrijos was indicted in New York for smuggling heroin.

but antiAmerican feeling and opposition to the civilian democratic government of President Siles Zuazo was stronger than ever.25 Ultimately the drug-linked regime became a liability for the Reagan administration which worked to destabilise it by overt and covert pressures (as it later would with Panama's Noriega). P Lernoux. Also see my fn 28 for background sources. The Nazi Legacy. New York: Doubleday. 26. what could have encouraged the mistaken idea in the first place? As one analyst observed. especially pp 19. 'The US in Bolivia. in NACLAReport on the Americas 22 (6) March 1989. pp 15-20. Hot Money. paramilitary. New York: The Linden Press/Simon Schuster.THE WAR ON DRUGS colonels' and their paramilitary forces. 29 R T Naylor. the USA withdrew its ambassador from Bolivia. and J McCoy. 'Cocaine business booms in Bolivia and Peru despite US eradication efforts'. M T Klare and P Kornbluh. 27 This was the largest scale Pentagon participation in anti-drug operations to date and was the model for future drug programmes in the region. Latinamerica Press 29 (20) 10 September 1987. Hot Money and the Politics of Debt. 1987. pp 292-344. and 'Under the flag of law enforcement'. 1952-1982. 157 This content downloaded from 128. J A Kawell. London: Verso. there were no major busts and soon trafficking operations were bigger than ever. pp 72-3. It was the 'Leopards' (a 300-man elite. but perhaps more successful as a projection of US military power in the region and influence over the sometimes intransigent policies of the civilian Siles.26 In 1986 the US military forces used Operation Blast Furnace to wipe out the coca growing operations and cocaine paste production laboratories. Covert Action InformationBulletin (25) winter 1986. 'Going to the source'. many former Nazis (such as Klaus Barbie). anti-narcotics force organised and funded by the USA.27 Although drug activity ceased briefly. K Hermann. pp 188-92. but in 1982 the law was amended to allow Pentagon assistance and an April 1986 presidential directive sanctioned direct military and intelligence participation. Low-Intensity Warfare. 29 Dec 2015 15:47:27 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . pp 5-6. 'Klaus Barbie's Bolivian coup'. p 16. UMOPAR) that kidnapped President Siles Zuazo in an aborted July 1984 coup. pp 173-74. Even with a relatively vulnerable country such as Bolivia the process took over a year. E A Nadelmann.29 Although US Ambassador Edwin Corr received credit for discouraging the ill-fated attempt. Until 1982 the war on drugs was largely rhetorical since the US military was prevented by law from participation. especially pp 215-302.5 on Tue.226. Cry of the People. Journal of InteramericanStudies and WorldAffairs 29 (4) winter 1987/88.37. or neo-fascists.28 The venture had been expensive and counter-productive as a drug operation. The Nation 248 (6) 13 February 1989. 1984. pp 165-85. a 'strategic military rationale to deal with the drug problem 25 For the notorious internationalist fascist connection between drugs and right-wing dictators in Bolivia and Latin America see Linklater et al. 28 P Lernoux. pp 155-310. were assisted by the 'security forces' of Argentina's arch-conservative generals. playing golf while drugs flow'. Rebellion in the Veins: political struggle in Bolivia. formally known as the Mobile Rural Patrol Units. Going public. 'The DEA in Latin America: dealing with institutionalized corruption'. 26 J Dunkerley. 1980. and R T Naylor.

37. insisted that Noriega 'was a major contributor to American efforts to do something about narcotics trafficking'. Everett Ellis Briggs. Central America Bulletin 7 (5) April 1988. p 21. and Operation Condor. Southcom and the CIA as early as 1983 or 1984 (and 'softer' information even earlier). 29 Dec 2015 15:47:27 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . National Catholic Reporter 16 December 1988. the DEA. The opportunistic Noriega then concentrated on low30 31 32 33 J G Tokatlian. This gave General Noriega a special role to play in Washington's drama. stated that George Bush was briefed of General Noriega's drug activities in December 1985 and then seemingly retracted this position.THIRD WORLD QUARTERLY leads . 'National security and drugs'.30 The drug war also served as a convenient cover for the 1987 plans to stage US rapid deployment forces in the centre of South America (a geopolitical idea that was also favoured by Che Guevara). Noriega's long-term involvement with the Colombian drug cartel.000 US troops in Panama at fourteen US military bases worth approximately $5 billion). p 11.32 Rather the former chief of Southcom. At the height of these activities in 1984 a cocaine processing factory in Panama's remote Darien Province was raided. did not seem to be a problem. 158 This content downloaded from 128.3 Panama In Panama's case the security implications of the drug war were more developed. well-known to US embassy officials. whereby Torrijos had supplied arms first to the Sandinistas in their struggle against Somoza and later to the Salvadoran guerrillas.. 'US.33 Indeed. who had associations with the CIA. the DEA and the Southern Command (Southcom. 'A brewing storm: Panama's crisis in perspective'. and S Blixen.226. 6-7. US relations became cosy with his successor and head of the Panamanian Defence Forces. this observation was made about Colombia and similar military actions in Mexico (Operation Intercept. for his personal enrichment. who also argues that the US Southern Command hopes 'to establish a permanent military presence in South America for the first time since World War II'. General Manuel Antonio Noriega. 'The US in Bolivia'. quote on p 6. Former US ambassador to Panama. Panama (like Honduras) became central in regional security planning. When former military strongman Omar Torrijos (mastermind of the Panama Canal Treaties) died in a plane crash in 1981. 1969. pp 1-3. After the Sandinista victory in 1979. which housed over 14. New York Times 15 May 1988. Latin America sign secret defense plan'.5 on Tue. P Lernoux. 'Bush denies being told of Noriega Drug Activities'. to an interventionist attitude and policy which places national sovereignty in great jeopardy'. while President Bush denied knowing of Noriega's drug involvement until his indictment in February 1988.. evidence indicates that Noriega's drug profiteering occurred principally from 1980-84 and was then cut back. Noriega used the black market network. General Paul Gorman. 1975).

'Shultz: Noriega's military regime "cracking"'. p A-20. Orlando Sentinel.40 Soon a media campaign promoting Noriega as the evil drug-running dictator caught the imagination and ire of the American public. 3 April 1988. especially pp 186-95. R T Naylor. 'The DEA in Latin America'. ostensibly in the name of democracy and the war against drugs.37 The Reagan administration had surprisingly turned against its old conspirator. 'Noriega gets tough on dissent'. In public statements Reagan talked of an end to 'the illegitimate Noriega regime' and a return to 'a democratically stable and prosperous Panama'. pp 1-2. 'General coke?' NACLA.THE WAR ON DRUGS risk money laundering operations and collaboration with both the Colombian cartel and the DEA. When the opposition newspaper in Panama first reported General Noriega's links with a Peruvian trafficker. claiming that 'suppressing drug trafficking might be the Reagan administration's excuse for an invasion'. Miami Herald 24 March 1988. Hot Money. 29 Dec 2015 15:47:27 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . p 20. Latinamerica Press 20 (26) 14 July 1988. p 22.226. In Banks We Trust. in February 1988 two federal indictments were handed down in Florida against Noriega. as saying: 'We have been warning everybody that Panama is on the verge of becoming a communist country.36 Despite nearly a decade of US protection.5 on Tue. caused largely by a massive US economic destabilisation programme.37. 'Panama cites signs of imminent US invasion'. a joint investigation into drug money laundering made through Panama's large international banking network. But first the Reagan administration attempted to exploit anticommunist phobia. p A-5.35 At that time Noriega had given full assistance to 'Operation Pisces'. A.38 The press quoted anti-Noriega Panamanian ambassador. 'US considered creating Delvalle haven in Panama'. pp A. will stay'. J Dinges. The result was a file of letters of commendation to Noriega from the DEA. Orlando Sentinel 19 March 1988. Orlando Sentinel 21 March 1988. An 'anonymous' administration official revealedto the media that two Panamanian air force pilots who defected to the USA in March 1988claimed that Noriega had recently received sixteen tons of military equipment from Cuba. 'Reagan tags Noriega rule "illegitimate"'. Orlando Sentinel 12 March 1988. P Lernoux. 'Two defectors say Noriega is playing for time.34 The Justice Department described Noriega's cooperation as 'superb' as late as May 1987. pp A-1 and A-8.'39 But these unsubstantiated charges were simply not credible. Juan Sosa. it was the resident DEA agent who provided the disclaimer printed in the pro-government press the next day. p 18-A. and more generally.I 1. Journal of InteramericanStudies. Panama's Vice-Minister of Foreign Relations anticipated a different thrust and expressed as much to a gathering of Latin diplomats.I 1. Senator Bob Graham (Democrat-Florida) 34 3 36 37 38 39 40 E A Nadelman. 159 This content downloaded from 128. In March anti-Noriega riots and an unsuccessful coup attempt rocked Panama.

p 1 (quote). The two in fact are synonymous.42 The more interesting question is why the Reagan administration turned against Noriega. Since 1966 Noriega. 29 Dec 2015 15:47:27 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Central AmericanBulletin. NACLA. 160 This content downloaded from 128. became involved with the CIA and may have been on its payroll. This theory suggests that the Reagan policy-makers believed that they could easily destabilise Noriega and install in his place a more pliant and 'clean' right-wing commander of the defence forces. p 18. p A-1. William Casey. later head of Panamanian military intelligence (G-2). charged that large sums of money were diverted from these drug operations through the CIA to the Nicaraguan contras. 'Hill members turn up pressure in war on drugs'. and pp 492-6 for another arms-drugs-cIA pipeline to the Afghan rebels through Pakistan's former ruler. Reportedly Noriega was to be instrumental in the various invasion and destabilisation plans against Nicaragua. a powerful 41 42 43 44 45 'Prosecutor gets ready for Noriega'.226. offered Noriega amnesty from drug prosecution if he fled to a third country. Covert Action.44 Indeed the most likely explanation for the anti-Noriega campaign was the general's failure to be an effective 'stooge'. CongressionalQuarterly. Thus Reagan proved he would negotiate with drug figures as well as terrorists. Also see the various articles in the special issue. M Mills. drugs and Pakistan: inside the kingdom of heroin'. a Cuban-born Miami accountant who admitted laundering $11 billion for the Colombia cartel. OrlandoSentinel. See L Lifschultz. the Reagan administration. Investigations disclosed a tangle of alleged relationships-with former CIA director.5 on Tue. J Weeks. 'Bush. after all the fuss. 'The CIA and drugs'. At the time George Bush had vowed: 'I will never bargain with drug dealers on US or foreign soil'. . 16 March 1988.37. and Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North.45 There are also rumours that the far right constituency of the Reagan administration may have leaked Noriega's record in an attempt to revoke the Panama Canal Treaties unilaterally. 'Brewing storm'. Ramon Milian Rodriguez. Noriega's drug involvement was exposed in order to create the larger-than-life demon of 'the drug-dealing Latin dictator'.p 945. Southcom and the CIA. 'Of puppets and heroes'.THIRD WORLD QUARTERLY expressed the growing convergence between drugs and national security before the Senate hearing on International Narcotics Control: 'There's a tendency to think that drug trafficking and national security are separate issues . In February 1988 witnesses before a Senate foreign relations subcommittee confirmed that Noriega and high military officials of the government had laundered millions in drug money and facilitated drug smuggling.'41 Proving the point in a way Graham had not intended. especially as evidence surfaced of his CIA involvement. pp 6-7. The Nation 247 (14) 14 November 1988.43 The testimony pointed to the complicity of the DEA. .

161 This content downloaded from 128. the military. The USA reportedly has a list of a dozen top military 46 47 48 'Panama'.46 Narco-terrorismversus narco-imperialism? In Honduras. countries such as Nicaragua. and to separate them in others.226. an 'alliance between drug smugglers and arms dealers in support of terrorists and guerrillas'. For example. backfired.5 on Tue. Philippines) the drug production/trafficking is played down because of strategic importance to US security. Angry mobs stormed the US embassy in Tegucigalpa while the Honduran police seemed slow to respond (the police chief was reportedly a friend of Matta). the real enemy was US 'narcoimperialism'. a militarised reassertion of US hegemony in the region via the drug war. chief of the Honduran armed forces). all involved with drugs. with over 200 isolated airstrips and 350 miles of unwatched coastline. the myth of the "narco-guerrillas"'. Ramon Matta. death squads.47 In Colombia and Peru the US coined the myth of the 'narco-guerrillas'. Cuba. In May 1988 the Honduran ambassador to Panama. Tokatlian explains the policy contradiction or double standard as follows: 'The "maps" of strategic security and of the anti-narcotics war are superimposed on several vertices. J G Tokatlian. paramilitary forces. The DEA announced that Honduras. was arrested in Miami with twenty-five pounds of cocaine in his bags.THE WAR ON DRUGS image which provided 'a nasty consensus in favor of a return to baldfaced intervention as a proper tool of US policy'. M Collett. 29 Dec 2015 15:47:27 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . In April 1988 the US-instigated arrest of the Robin Hood-like drug figure.37. Honduras In Honduras evidence mounted of the complicity of the armed forces in regional drug trafficking. Rigoberto Regalado (friend of Panama's Noriega and stepbrother of General Humberto Regalado.000 Hondurans. 'National security and drugs'. p 11. 130-4. 247 (4) 13/20 August 1988. Washington finds it important to combine these maps in some cases. rivalled Panama as a major trans-shipment point for South American cocaine on its way north. Since Matta's legitimate business interests employed some 4.' But in allied. as a State Defence Department report explained. Syria and Afghanistan are perceived as presenting a double threat to US strategic security interests through a mixture of drug-trafficking. guerrillas and a host of US actors.48 However. Colombia and Peru the battle against drug trafficking proved to be a dangerous and complicated doctrine in a multi-party war played out by counter-revolutionaries. 'An internation story. friendly nations (Turkey. or. p 113 (quote). terrorism and Soviet penetration. Pakistan. NACLA. he was something of a local hero.

The various allegations in the Iran-Contra hearings linking the contras. Agee insists that Bush was known to have met head of contra resupply operations. 50 'Drug allegations divide Honduran military and congress'. arms traffickers and Israeli security agents'. 'that the drug dealers coud probably buy the officers and most of the National Assembly over the next five years'. the chief of military intelligence. in April 1985 described some contra leaders as drug runners. Puertas de Castilla. In February 1989 the State Department implicated the minister of defence. or whether US national security managers were not creating another 'rogue government' like Panama or Bolivia.49 The trafficking problem sharply divided the Honduran government and the army. One senior Honduran political leader felt that the country was so poor. and created an atmosphere of suspicion and uncertainty.50 The question is whether this situation arose by design or as a result of conflicting agendas. Washington Report on the Hemisphere 8 (20) 6 July 1988. the chief of the navy and others. 51 P Agee (and Kwitny) has traced this relationship to 1947 and the Corsican Mafia in Marseilles and to the Golden Triangle opium ring important in the fight against both Mao Zedong and Ho Chi-minh. p 5. the DEA and the drug gangs-a relationship in which it is practically impossible to sort out the users and the used. Felix Rodriguez. pp 1. 'Honduras: mounting evidence implicates armed forces in cocaine trafficking'.THIRD WORLD QUARTERLY officials involved in the drug traffic and has threatened to release it from time to time in order to pressure drug compliance.4 billion in cocaine to Florida. It was less and less clear who was using whom. Iran-Contra hearings in 1987 uncovered a trail leading to arms merchants believed to be connected with the CIA and Oliver North. and politicians and army officers so corrupt.51 Thus Oliver North would not have been shocked when a memorandum from his operative. in Honduras on several occasions.226. Robert Owen. was reported to be implicated in November 1987 for shipping $1. operating out of this state-run warehouse. nor dismayed when the drug profits of George Morales provided over one-quarter 49 The Iran-Contra hearings mention the warehouse and its creation by 'high officials of the Honduran armed forces. 7. the CIA and Oliver North reveal an insidious symbiotic relationship between the US intelligence agencies.37. Latinamerica Press 20 (21) 9 June 1988.5 on Tue. In fact another company. What did US security managers hope to achieve? Perhaps the same ends as all the participants-an independent source of money and power. Was this policy a ploy to deflect attention from the fact that the Honduran military were running arms for the contras and that the contras were involved in drug trafficking? In Honduras a warehouse used for arms and drugs shipments implicated top military officers and the state-run customs company. Indeed Agee questions whether the national 162 This content downloaded from 128. 29 Dec 2015 15:47:27 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .

226. see L Dicaprio. 'These charges are discussed in J Kwitny. where the illegal and violent trade may bring in $1. for argument. Drug lords in turn use the guerrillas (for example the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. and the contra drug connection (New York. Drug power contracted marriages of convenience between some 150 right-wing anticommunist death squads and the six left-wing Marxist guerrilla armies. and prey on establishment political leaders. writes that "'the anti-Castro CIA team in Florida were already drawing attention to their drug-smuggling activities by 1963". The death squads massacre peasants. Sectors of the military. silver or the bullet. Hot Money. who allegedly coordinated a $10 million payment to the contras by the Colombian cocaine cartel'. 'Covert action and accountability: decisionmaking for America's secret foreign policy'. and the death squads. pp 81-109.5 on Tue. 53 Colombia The power of drug traffickers is staggering in Colombia. in D Corn. and L K Johnson.52 In the fields of intelligence and narcotics control. pp 109-12. the guerrillas (for example M19. standard operating procedure holds that the end justifies the means. including drug traffickers. guerrillas and other 'undesirables' such as homosexuals and drug addicts.5 billion per annum and the murder rate is the highest in the world for a country not at war.THE WAR ON DRUGS million dollars to the contra supply system. 163 This content downloaded from 128. 1987). 110. p 42. See The Nation 247 (2) 16/23 July 1988. the CIA "ialumnuswho wore Che Guevara's watch and counted George Bush among his friends". or are using it for their own ends. as in crime and drug dealing. leftists. citing L Cockburn. Nation. See E A Nadelman. Zeta Magazine 1 (11) November 1988. the April 19th Movement) kidnap the wealthy. International Studies Quarterly 33 (1) March 1989. union leaders. Out of Control: the story of the Reagan administration'ssecret war in Nicaragua. FARC) to protect their jungle laboratories. 'Christic's lawsuit: is there really a "secret team"?' The Nation 247 (1) 2/9 July 1988. The Nation. H Kruger. The same modi operandi are common to all four activities.37. it is eminently logical for those who believe themselves to be above the law to use and be used by those outside it. 29 Dec 2015 15:47:27 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . pp 162-6. A massive conspiracy or vast shadow government 'supported by drug dealing and illegal arms sales since the 1950s' does not necessarily provide the explanation for these events. see also criticism of the Christic Institute's conspiracy of the 'secret team'. the business community and the civilian government are not only being corrupted by drug money but murdered by the drug mafia. and that it was Felix Rodriguez. 'An interview with Philip Agee'. 'The DEA in Latin America'. which are linked with the army. The Crimes of Patriots. The Colombians have a term for this coercive collaboration: plomo o plata. to suppress labour unrest and 52 53 security managers really want to stop the drug traffic. pp 10-14. 'An inquiry: money'. for specific examples of how corruption can be 'worked with' to gain US ends. The Great Heroin Coup. the illegal arms pipeline. and J Kwitny. Similar charges of CIA manipulation of the drug trade to destabilise or pressure recalcitrant Latin and Third World governments are found in R T Naylor.

and R B Craig 'Colombian narcotics and US-Colombian relations'. Foreign Affairs. pp 243-70.5 on Tue. if ever. which functions along the lines of an armed trade union on behalf of the peasant coca workers. Washington Report on the Hemisphere 9 (4) 9 November 1988.54 In the midst of this violence-for-hire.. active duty military and counter-insurgency experts joined the ranks of MAS creating a narco-military convergence or 'triangle of terror' which has operated as a clandestine. B M Bagley. The Nation 246 (9) 5 March 1988. 134.56 The FARC. They formed.57 When the guerrilla's tribute became uneconomic after the drop in demand and price of cocaine. anticommunist myopia and opportunism were two reasons why the US anti-drug effort was not going well in Colombia. The Nazi Legacy. which states: 'The goals of the guerrillas and the traffickers are fundamentally incompatible: the guerrillas are revolutionaries who seek to overthrow the Colombian system. 'Illicit drug traffic'. 'The politics of drugs'. 56 Linklater et al.5 8 In short.. Nation.226. the military and the reactionary elites. is manipulating drug activities. 164 This content downloaded from 128. the USA has seemed either unable or unwilling to delink the struggle against drug trafficking from counter-insurgency.' 58 Collett.37. Muerte a Secuestradoresor 'Death to Kidnappers' (MAS). pp 70-92. and for a time operated a drug mafia death squad. pp 1. ensuring minimum wages and exacting a 10 per cent transit tax on drug shipments by cartel middlemen. Foreign Affairs 67 (1) autumn 1988. and R Jimeno and S Volk. 'Colombia: whose country is this. whereby they struck back against guerrilla kidnappings. accorded the 54 T Rosenberg. anticommunist alliance between the drug mafia. and landing strips. pp 2-35. and that is what the United States is doing'. 306-8. Zeta. 'the US government has rarely.THIRD WORLD QUARTERLY guard against kidnapping. murder city'. One Colombian official argued that 'it is one thing to fight drugs and another thing to use drugs to fight communism. p 84. Roughly half of FARC'S 33 "fronts" are active in marijuana and coca growing areas where its cadres collect tribute for protecting illegal plots. anyway?' NACLA Report on the Americas 7 (3) May/June 1983. three-way. The Atlantic 262 (5) November 1988. cocaine laboratories. and P Lernoux. According to certain evidence. the traffickers are robber-baron capitalists who seek to protect their illgotten gains and assure themselves immunity from prosecution. 'A country under siege: Colombia can't kick drugs alone'. 'Colombia and the war on drugs'. 29 Dec 2015 15:47:27 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .' Compare with B M Bagley. 5 'Profile: Washington sees a communist behind every bush'. p 2. Also R B Craig. not protecting cocaine laboratories as charged by the US embassy and a 1988 State Department report. 'The myth of"Narco-Guerrillas"'. the 'narcs' retaliated in order to protect their profits. pp 20-30. P Lernoux. 'Illicit drug traffic' argues differently: 'Ties between terrorist groups and drug smugglers would appear to be mutually beneficial . 'Colombia. 'Colombia and the War on Drugs'.55 There is a 'dirty war' between drug traffickers and guerrillas (like the war between the nazi fascists and communists) which the USA exploits. Journal of InteramericanStudies 23 (3) August 1981. pp 132. 5 R B Craig. As one specialist noted.

5 on Tue. 62 R B Craig. 'The Myth of "Narco-Guerrillas"'. and R Gonzalez. equivalent to about 30 per cent of its legal export earnings. 61 'US hopes to really rock cocaine cradle'. Over 200. Orlando Sentinel. 'Illicit drug traffic'. 59 DEA 165 This content downloaded from 128. The popular view was that the USA was using the traffickers like everyone else. and E A Nadelmann. 'Going to the source'.60 Peru Coca cultivation in Peru has soared in the last fifteen years from under 50.000 acres to half a million today (some estimates put it closer to one million) despite various US eradication programmes.59 The drug war rhetoric which equated narco-terrorism with the communist threat in Latin America was whipped up largely for the benefit of the US public. Foreign Policy (70) spring 1988. Nor did most Colombians take the US anti-drug programme seriously. Narco thugs and guerrilla cadres are tactically so similar in the (Upper Huallaga) Valley that most distinctions between the two have become speculative'. p 83. T Rosenberg. 'The DEA in Latin America'. 60 Collett. p A-4. guerrillas and drug dealers in 'the combination of subversion and cocaine trafficking'.37.61 Peruvian politicians agreed that 'so brutal are trafficker assaults on government representatives in the region that they qualify de facto as terroristic. murder city'. E A Nadelman. 19. The DEA itself justified the 'limited strategy' of cooperating with major drug traffickers as a waiting game until they could crack down. The enemy in Peru has been characterised in the US press as narcoterrorism or narco-guerrillas: peasants. pp 22-4. the political tide directing the war on drugs has become so powerful that a truly serious anti-drug enforcement programme risks being 'captured by its own rhetoric and effectively immunised from critical examination'. p 16 (quote). from the Pentagon's perspective. was ripe for the application of low-intensity conflict (LIC) strategies understood as 'the short-term rapid projection or employment of forces in conditions short of conventional war'. NACLAReport on the Americas 22 (6) March 1989.000 peasants have flooded the Upper Huallaga Valley where coca cultivation is concentrated and where the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path guerrilla movement) established its base of operations in 1984.62 The threat in Peru. 'Coca's Shining Path'. The severe economic crisis and national debt has debilitated the Garcia government's enforcement efforts. pp 13-21. Nevertheless. 'Colombia. also Kawell. 'US drug policy: a bad export'.226. Lic is an all-embracing military agents routinely tolerated powerful drug 'untouchables' who in turn manipulated enforcement agents to eliminate their competition and better monopolise the drug trade. The trade is believed to generate over $800 million per annum for the country.THE WAR ON DRUGS drug control objective such priority that it has been willing to sacrifice all other objectives'. 29 Dec 2015 15:47:27 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .

And Operation Condor VI in July 1987 involved a stepped up US role (DEA agents and US contract pilots) which clearly demonstrated how closely drug control efforts had become linked with counter-insurgency. Collett. 'Low-intensity conflict: a debate'. NACLA.226. Low Intensity Warfare. 'CIA and drugs'.5 on Tue. but the primaryagenda has been counterinsurgency against the Maoist Shining Path guerrillas. 166 This content downloaded from 128. According to FBI records the DEA used the CIA personnel 'to "help us prepare a better product"'.37. which includes two articles: A Nairn. pp 22-4. Kawell. 'Environmentalists challenge chemical use'. 'Policing the Third World: a blueprint for endless interventions'. have been justified by being classed as antinarcotics control programmes. but also the question of whether the programme is a disguised attempt to dry up guerrilla support. However. pp 4-7.66 63 64 65 66 M T Klare. The assault was ostensibly on the drug traffickingcentre of Tocache. p 134.63 Extensive US-Peruvian military exercises.64 Although the Shining Path provided the peasants with a shield to protect them from the eradication effort and abuse by drug cartel middlemen. Of the total strategic product approximately 25 per cent is provided by the CIA'. 'Going to the source'.65 The war may appear to be a drug war. 'Coca's Shining Path'. 'Low-intensity conflict. Nation. in NACLAReport on the Americas 20 (3) June 1986. pp 4-11. ostensibly to eradicate marijuana and poppies.THIRD WORLD QUARTERLY response to general lawlessness in the Third World. p 17. which was also a town controlled at the time by Sendero guerrillas. In the highly publicised Operation Condor IV. See also M T Klare and P Kornbluh. WashingtonReport on the Hemisphere 8 (14) 13 April 1988. Sendero was temporarily routed from the town in a counter-insurgency operation using US funds. and see my fn 22. 'Low-intensity conflict: one hit. p 5. spike will destroy the lowlying rainforest that provides both cover and food for the guerrillas. and P Kornbluh and J Hacket. In treated areas. or 'spike'. The recent controversy over the use of the herbicide Tebuthiuron. 'Myth of the "Narco-Guerrillas" '. Covert Action. The Nation 247 (3) 30 July/6 August 1988. is it live or is it memorex?'. the main threat from the perspective of US national security managers was described as strategic. but in reality it is primarily an anticommunist counter-insurgency action legitimised by the drug war doctrine. LIC operations such as the Operation Condor series. is seen by some analysts as 'a counter-insurgency tool: destroying corn it suspects is being fed to guerrillas and defoliating rebel-occupied forests'. equipment and personnel. to eradicate coca fields raises not only serious ecological questions. Similar charges have been raised in Guatemala where the spraying of chemicals. two misses'. the Peruvian air force dropped 500 pound bombs on drug landing strips in the jungle. 29 Dec 2015 15:47:27 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . pp 8-11. The DEA also provided agents to Colonel North's operations. and the 'DEA produces both strategic and tactical/operational intelligence. p 95. 'to curb "terrorists". and R Gonzalez.The drug enforcement results of the operation were modest and the State Department admitted that trafficking 'continued relatively unimpeded'. outlaws and drug-pushers'. Critics argue that drug traffic is minor in Guatemala (producing only 2 per cent of marijuana worldwide) and that DEA activity is completely unrelated to drug activity. pp 26-7.

not the drug traffickers. is mobilised against international drug trafficking. 67 R B Craig. defined the real enemy as the Marxist guerrilla insurgents. The army did exactly what the guerrillas had done. however. an uncomfortable marriage of convenience' between the narco-trafficker and the coca farmer. 167 This content downloaded from 128. motivated by the traditional anticommunist national security doctrine of US advisers.5 on Tue. it is prematureto suggest that antidrug campaigns cannot become a future rallying point and propaganda instrument to draw US public opinion into line with the foreign policies of the national security state. and merely employed the drug war doctrine as a rationale for extensive LIC counter-insurgency operations. the drug war strategy has variously assisted or competed with the dominant anticommunist national security doctrine. various problems arise. 'Illicit drug traffic'. pp 16-18. quote on p 17. Conclusions Although the 'war on drugs' has apparently failed to serve as an effective legitimising principle for US intervention and destabilisation of the Noriega regime.67In short. 29 Dec 2015 15:47:27 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .226. whether he has accepted the official ideological linkage of drugs with terrorism as a global communist conspiracy or as a valid national security threat in its own right. and in ideological doctrines of national security. Although clearly not yet a new national security doctrine in its own right. First. the war on drugs has been most effective as a principle of public legitimation within the USA. The danger therefore is that one more generation of US foreign policy will be rooted in hatred of a mythical enemy. but it replaced the role of the Sendero guerrillas as the friend and protector of the coca farmers in dealing with the traffickers and the government narcotics control forces (UMOPAR). The frustration of the public over US impotence before the Medellin cartel or a drug tainted Noriega is akin to hatred of Qaddafi's Libyan or Khomeini's Iranian terrorism. Peruvian authorities.THE WAR ON DRUGS The Peruvian army's occupation of the Upper Huallagua Valley proved successful as an antiterrorist campaign.37. The average US citizen. in conspiracy not democracy. Not only was the army 'narco-corrupted'. forming 'a loose confederation. If seen as a new national security doctrine. The 'evil empire of drugs' has the potential to evoke that fear of the enemy so basic and powerful in the doctrine of anticommunism. but was generally a failure as an antidrug operation.

the DEA and the National Security Agency (NSA) is a threat to future US policy. This highly classified information has constituted both a curse and a 'blessing'. 'Illicit Drug Traffic'.5 on Tue. their tactics which render cocaine capos and guerrillas kindred spirits. We ought to aim at the first. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.37. Both are terrorists because they use violent strategies and tactics. 168 This content downloaded from 128. the greater crime in Panama is collaboration with the USA. As a new national security doctrine let loose in Latin America. 'There are three possibilities in descending order of preference: a decent democratic regime. NACLA. One critic observed that the 'coke and communism conspiracy' is not the point: 'Instead. one expression of which was Kennedy's dilemma of having to choose between democracy and counter-revolution. p 30. discrediting the conservative opposition it sought to bring back to power and further fanning the flames of Panamanian nationalism. its policy would have failed. pp 17-18.' 69 This caveat is especially appropriate for US national security managers. the very charges levelled against narco-guerrillas. and the belief that the pursuit of one at the expense of the other can succeed reformulates a classic fallacy. Washington remains caught in the reformulation of an old catch-22. lest they be known by their tactics as well. 'The DEA in Latin America'.THIRD WORLD QUARTERLY Second.'71 It will be interesting to observe whether these lessons have been 68 69 70 71 A M Schlesinger Jr. The lesson of Panama. Intervention. it is the modus operandi of the two camps. electronic and satellite intercepts by the CIA and NSA. a continuation of the Trujillo regime or a Castro regime. said one political observer. p 769. the drug war is potentially as dangerous as anticommunism. but it proved to be its very cause. is that although 'electoral fraud. 'Even if the US government had deposed Noriega. E A Nadelmann. A ThousandDays. the drug war doctrine should not obscure the central dilemma of twentieth century US foreign policy. 'Of Puppets and Heroes'. murder and drug trafficking are crimes in Panama as elsewhere.226. Fascism was once believed to be a bulwark protecting against the spread of communism.70 The allure of political manipulation in the drug war poses a third problem. The confusion of the operations of the CIA. R B Craig. A primary source of evidence of high-level drug corruption has been telephone. 1965. It is not usable in public and provides a secret 'Sword of Damocles' to threaten other leaders and governments. 29 Dec 2015 15:47:27 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . but we really can't renounce the second until we are sure we can avoid the third. even if 'legitimised' by the drug war national security doctrine no matter how convincing or real the drug crisis may be-still provokes the wrath of nationalism. and most Panamanians believe Manuel Noriega is guilty of all of them'.'68 The choice today is between narcocracy and counter-revolution. Narco-imperialism has not been shy to employ a 'guns for dope' relationship in the contra affair.

The 'war on drugs' has potentially dangerous implications as a national security doctrine in Honduras. 169 This content downloaded from 128.THE WAR ON DRUGS learned by the managers of the national security state. where many similarities to the Panamanian campaign exist. anti-US movements.5 on Tue.226. If the drug war doctrine. and in Colombia and Peru where the militarised battle against 'narco-guerrillas' has mobilised and radicalised dispossessed peoples into broad. like earlier US national security doctrines. 29 Dec 2015 15:47:27 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .37. the sovereignties of Bolivia and Peru have already suffered from such exercises. populist. serves to create and cultivate fascist military elites as North American puppets. Joint anti-drug enforcement programmes have been a convenient subterfuge for renewed hegemony and intervention. then little will have changed.