The war against the Great Islamic Jihad is not a static one. Our armed forces and intelligence agencies learn from experience and design new techniques and technologies to meet the requirements of 21st century asymmetrical warfare.
Our enemies are adapting at the same time. The Islamic zealots behind the current war are developing new strategies to counter the efforts of the Western powers. As Middle Eastern governments crack down on the Islamic “charities” under pressure from the United States and its allies, the mujahideen in various Islamofascist terrorist groups find themselves suffering from a lack of funds.
To compensate, the jihadis are adopting creative alternatives. One of the most lucrative examples is the heroin smuggling business.
An article by David E. Kaplan in last week’s U.S. News and World Report, Paying For Terror, outlines the extensive Islamist smuggling enterprise that has grown up around the Afghan heroin trade:
|And if al Qaeda itself is staying out of drugs, its allies certainly are not. The booming drug trade has given a strong second wind to the stubborn insurgency being waged by the Taliban and Islamist warlords like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Both the Taliban and Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i-Islami army control key smuggling routes out of the country, giving them the ability to levy taxes and protection fees on drug caravans. Crime and terrorism experts are also alarmed over the corrosive, long-term effects of all the drug money, not just within Afghanistan but across the region. The ballooning dope trade is rapidly creating narco-states in central Asia, destroying what little border control exists and making it easier for terrorist groups to operate. Ancient smuggling routes from the Silk Road to the Arabian Sea are being supercharged with tons of heroin and billions of narcodollars. Within Afghanistan, drug-fueled corruption is pervasive; governors, mayors, police, and military are all on the take. A raid this year in strategically located Helmand province came up with a whopping 9 1/2 tons of heroin–stashed inside the governor’s own office.|
|The smuggling routes lead from landlocked Afghanistan to the south and east through Pakistan, to the west through Iraq, and to the north through central Asia. Throughout the region the amounts of drugs seized are jumping, along with rates of crime, drug addiction, and HIV infection. Particularly hard hit are Afghanistan’s impoverished northern neighbors, the former Soviet republics of Kirgizstan and Tajikistan. Widely praised demonstrations in Kirgizstan this year, which overthrew the regime of strongman Askar Akayev, have brought to power an array of questionable figures. “Entire branches of government are being directed by individuals tied to organized crime,” warns Svante Cornell of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University. “The whole revolution smells of opium.”|
|Neighboring republics are little better off. Central Asia’s major terrorist threat, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, has largely degenerated into a drug mafia, officials say. In Kazakhstan the interior minister tried to investigate corruption by going undercover in a truck packed with 9 tons of watermelons, motoring 1,200 miles from the Kirgiz Republic to the Kazakh capital. His team had to pay bribes to 36 different police and customs officials en route–some as little as $1.50. (Others merely accepted their bribe in melons.) The cargo was never inspected. What is happening in Iran, meanwhile, is “a national tragedy,” according to the U.N.’s Costa. So much Afghan dope is being shipped into the country that it now has the world’s highest per capita rate of addiction. The ruling mullahs in Tehran have taken it seriously; Iranian security forces have fought deadly battles with drug traffickers along their border, losing some 3,600 lives in the past 16 years. But even as their troops fight, the corruption has reached high officials of the Iranian government, who are using drug profits as political patronage, sources tell U.S. News. “There are indications,” says Cornell, “that hard-line conservatives [i.e. the mullahs] are up to their ears in the Afghan opium trade.”|
Step back a couple of paces and look at this situation:
- Our enemies are funding their struggle against us by trafficking in heroin and other illegal drugs.
- The trade in heroin is so lucrative that corruption is inevitable.
- After four years of occupation by American troops, the heroin trade in Afghanistan has not been curbed; it has ballooned.
- The customer base for the heroin trade lies principally in the United States and other affluent Western countries.
The obvious question is: If four years of occupation by the American military cannot interdict the supply of illegal drugs, what possibly could?
This failure refutes the current wisdom that drug use can be controlled by:
1. making drugs illegal, and
2. attempting to cut off the supply.
Neither solution has ever worked.
Consider this: if heroin (and other drugs) were no longer illegal, but were simply regulated by the government as are alcohol and tobacco, if an addict’s fix were $2 instead of $40, how would that affect the funding of terrorist enterprises?
Before the comments and emails come down on me like a ton of bricks, let me hasten to say that an initial increase in the addiction rate is a certainty, if drugs were legalized — look at what happened when Prohibition was repealed in 1933. But the increase in heroin addiction would not lead to an increase in the crime rate. At present, heroin users commit crimes — muggings, burglaries, etc. — to pay for their fix.
As heroin consumption stabilized — much like alcohol before it — its use would confined to those who employ mind-altering substances to self-medicate.
But would that human toll be worse than the consequences of our current policies?
- We imprison thousands upon thousands of users and low-level dealers, thereby turning them into hardened criminals.
- We enrich the kingpins of crime as our users pay the inflated prices created by keeping drugs illegal.
- We turn addicts into muggers and burglars and murderers in order to feed their habit.
- We enable cynicism and corruption as the drugs continue to flow and police forces, officials, and whole governments are bribed and bought off and extorted by the drug barons.
On the other hand, how many 7-11 clerks have been shot by cigarette addicts cleaning out the cash register to pay for their fix? How many governments are corrupted by the trade in illicit alcohol?
It’s time to reconsider the havoc we wreaked with our “War on Drugs.” It is a war every bit as successful as the one we waged on poverty, and both “wars” have done more harm than good.
This is not to excuse or promote drug addiction. We must recognize the limits of what can reasonably be done by mere human beings. Attempting to stifle the addictive aspects of human nature is an exercise in futility. We simply cannot do it.
Go ahead and flame me. But remember this: when Johnny Dopefiend pays for his latest fix, his money eventually works its way into the pockets of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his comrades in jihad.
Is this what we want?