CIA Afghan Drug Trade: Occupation Abroad, Prisons at Home

Even among many opposed to the U.S. war against the Iraqi people there is the notion that the U.S. imperialist war against the people of Afghanistan is a “good” war.

This view, propagated by bourgeois and “alternative” media sources alike, portrays U.S. forces fighting against drug-dealing “Taliban” thugs in a lawless “narco-state” that hides and supports the “terrorists” responsible for 9/11.

This has served the Obama administration quite well. Of course, this is a lie.

In 2000, prior to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the Taliban had almost completely eliminated the export of opium and banned its production. Contrary to the mainstream media, it was not the Taliban that replaced food crops with opium poppies.

It was the CIA that initiated the Afghan drug trade to support its attack on the Socialist Government of Afghanistan in the 1970s and 80s. It was the CIA that revived the illegal drug trade in 2001 and the CIA that continues to support it today.

Since 2001, Afghanistan has gone from no opium trade to providing 93 percent of the world’s heroin exports, including about 60 percent of heroin exports to the United States.

Illegal drug trade part of primitive accumulation of capital

Parasitic capitalism benefits from the illegal drug economy in multiple ways.

First of all, the illegal drug trade, used as a basis for subjegating China, was included by Karl Marx as part of the process that actually built capitalism. Marx called this the “primitive” or first accumulation of capital.

Before modern times Europe had few resources. Europeans suffered from deep poverty, cultural backwardness and many diseases. It only became rich and powerful by sucking the blood of African, Indigenous and colonized peoples around the world.

Slavery, genocide, the theft of land and resources along with an imposed drug trade are what built the capitalist system and transformed Europe and the white world from poverty into the leading imperialist power today.

As Marx wrote in Volume I, Part 8 of Capital:

“The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signaled the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief momenta of primitive accumulation. On their heels treads the commercial war of the European nations, with the globe for a theatre. It begins with the revolt of the Netherlands from Spain, assumes giant dimensions in England’s Anti-Jacobin War, and is still going on in the opium wars against China.”

Today, illegal drugs are considered the third largest commodity in the world, estimated to be worth 500 billion to a trillion dollars.

The U.S. government-controlled illegal drug trade funds U.S. covert or “secret” counterinsurgency operations abroad and against African people inside the U.S.

Drugs also bring cash injections into the failing U.S. banking system, although there is evidence that with the falling dollar worldwide drug producers are demanding to be paid in Euros.

These drugs are imposed on African and oppressed communities in the United States, justifying the massive prison economy, which is used to create jobs and economic stimulus for white communities.

The U.S.-controlled drug economy is also used to criminalize the African community and label Arab and Muslim freedom fighters and civilians as “terrorists.”

>Insurgency Against The Peoples Republic of Afghanistan

CIA funding of the Afghan drug trade dates back to the late 1970s when Afghanistan, like many African and colonized nations around the world, had secured independence from white colonial domination.

The infamous, drug laundering Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI ), played a role in establishing the drug trade in Afghanistan.

BCCI is the same bank that channeled money in the early 80s to the U.S.-backed Contras for their fight against Nicaragua’s Sandinista revolution.

BCCI was also used to channel billions of dollars from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to reactionary radical Islamic groups and tribal leaders against the revolutionary government of Afghanistan in 1979. This continued throughout the 80s while Afghanistan, with backing from the Soviet Union, fought a ferocious battle to defend its revolution.

“Secret” wars are costly. These billions were only a down payment on the funds needed to combat the Afghan resistance fighters. Drug money and its surrounding economy provided a solution. Prior to 1980 there was little opium or heroin in either Pakistan or Afghanistan and no drug sales to the US or Europe.

Professor Alfred W McCoy explains:

“By 1988, there were an estimated 100 to 200 heroin refineries in [Afghanistan’s] Khyber district alone. Trucks from the Pakistan army’s National Logistics Cell (NLC) arriving with CIA arms from Karachi often returned loaded with heroin—protected by ISI papers from police search.” (The Politics of Heroin, CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 2003, pp. 495)

When the Soviets and the U.S. CIA left Afghanistan in 1990, they left behind a drug-ravaged and drug-dependent economy.

Taliban Endangers the Illegal Drug Economy

When the Taliban assumed power in 2000 and eliminated opium production, the CIA’s secret projects suffered, as did the cash flow of money laundered through U.S. banks and into Afghanistan’s main ally in the region, the government of Pakistan.

U.S. plans to invade Afghanistan predate this action by the Taliban. They also predate the 9/11 attack, invalidating Obama’s claims that the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to go after Al-Qaeda. However, it is hard to believe that the Taliban’s interference with the drug trade played no role in the timing of the invasion in 2001.

Since the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, opium exports have continued to increase each year. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2008 report, Afghan opium production rose 17 percent between 2007 and 2008 alone.

Wall Street Banks Benefit from the Drug Trade

Where do the trillions of dollars from the U.S. controlled drug trade go? This money certainly is not in the impoverished African communities. Clearly, growers and small dealers gain a minute portion of the wealth of the drug economy.

Antonio Marie Costa, Executive Director of UNODC, explained the importance of this money to U.S. financial interests in an interview with the German language magazine Profil:

“In many instances, drug money is currently the only liquid investment capital for real estate…In the second half of 2008 liquidity was the banking system’s main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor.”

Costa also suggested that many banks were involved in interbank loans funded through drug money and “that some banks were rescued in that way.” He would not reveal which U.S. banks are involved.

A June 2006 article in Business Week’s financial section shed more light the importance of illegal drugs to the U.S. economy:

“When drug runners and terrorists want to park illicit cash, there may be no better haven than hedge funds. Despite tough new anti-money laundering standards put out by U.S. regulators for banks, mutual fund companies, insurers, and money transmitters, the highly secretive hedge fund industry has no restrictions whatsoever.”

Drug Money Funds the Prison Industrial Complex

Inside the U.S. heroin use continues to rise with the availability of larger, purer and cheaper heroin supplies from Afghanistan. In the 80s when the U.S. was waging funding the Contras, the government was importing cocaine in the form of crack into African neighborhoods as part of its War against the African Community.

As the government continues to pour drugs into African communities, funding for education, social services and health care has been cut severely while funding for police and prisons has increased.

This situation began in the 70s with the CIA’s counterinsurgency program COINTELPRO. The vicious hand of imperialism snatched up, imprisoned or murdered many of the greatest African leaders of the Black Revolution of the 60s. To prevent African people from rising up again, the CIA opened a floodgate of illegal drugs into African communities.

This was reinforced in the 80s when the government officially instituted the “War on Drugs”. FBI statistics show that the number of prisons has grown 369% since 1980.

According to the 2008 report of the Sentencing Project, the number of incarcerated drug offenders increased 1,100% between 1980 and 2003 with Africans comprising the bulk of this increase. While African people make up about 12% of the population and are estimated to be about 13% of those who use drugs regularly they are 34% of those arrested for, and almost 75% of those imprisoned for, drug charges. The small percentage of whites who are arrested and imprisoned can expect far shorter sentences. (See The Sentencing Project Report)

This huge increase in the number of prisoners and prisons result directly from new policies targeting African people such as minimum mandatory sentences for drug possession and “three strike” laws. The vast majority of Africans are imprisoned for possession of very small amounts of drugs or for parole violations. This is a policy clearly designed to criminalize ordinary African people. And these policies will not end under the Obama administration. Attorney General Holder is well known for aggressively supporting them.

The real goal of this war is to keep the Prison Industrial Complex—the private companies that build, run and profit from the cheap labor of prisoners, as well as political figures who seek contributions from these companies, and those employed by prisons, prison construction and the myriad spin off jobs from prisons—growing and profiting despite the economic crisis.

As a result African people are transformed into economic commodities to fill the coffers of the prison economy.

But the illegal drug trade benefits others, too. Prisons are the third largest industry in rural white areas that suffer from high unemployment. These provide economic stimulus to poor rural white people at the direct expense of African people’s incarceration.

The same drug trade that was used as a counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan fuels the dramatic growth of prisons that are part of the violent containment of African people and the destruction of African economic well- being and self-determination

African People’s Solidarity Committee Chairwoman Penny Hess asks, “The CIA admits it had direct ties to cocaine smuggling and drug money laundering. So why are there one million African people in prison, while not one CIA operative or government official has been brought to trial or even censored?” Overturning the Culture of Violence (Burning Spear, 2000, p367)

African “Criminals” and Arab and Muslim “Terrorists”

As the economic crisis of imperialism intensifies, middle- and working-class white people—sitting on the pedestal of the oppression of African and colonized peoples—have begun to feel anxiety over their declining quality of life.

The government’s campaign of violent incarceration of oppressed people gives white people a false sense of relief by misdirecting white anxiety towards Africans, Arabs and Muslim people, instead of towards the white ruling class. White people want to cling to the pedestal of white power and believe that current leaders are restoring “safety and order” to a system built at the expense of the rest of the world. But that order is crumbling.

The pedestal of white power is crumbling along with the parasitic system that formed it on the backs of indigenous and African peoples and maintains itself through state violence and incarcerations.

Resistance is growing in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and African communities around the world. Our resistance to the oppressive state will be met with increasing violence until the state is destroyed, Africans reunite under revolutionary working class leadership, and colonized and oppressed peoples reclaim their land and resources.

Resistance Until Victory!
Build the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement!

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