Monday, June 19, 2006

The War On Terror Meets The War On Drugs

I see a connection between three things I've recently read, a connection that shows tyranny and corruption abroad supports corruption and tyrannies of the mind at home. First, a blurb from a Bill Roggio report on Afghanistan at the Counterterrorism Blog:

- The poppy fields provide a major source of income for the farmers in southeastern Afghanistan. The Coalition and Afghan government made a serous mistake in its implementation of a poppy crop eradication program without providing an alternate source of income. The destruction of crops turned the local population to seek protection from the Taliban. A senior coalition officer indicated a major shift in the policy dealing with the poppy crops is in the works. The intricate relationship between security, economic, political and social aspects of a counterinsurgency operation are in full view in southeastern Afghanistan. While poppy production is viewed as a national security problem by Western governments, this is a critical part of the social and economic fabric of the region. Great care must be taken to address the issue, lest the Coalition continue to alienate the local population and drive farmers and harvesters into the sphere of the Taliban. Alternate crops may provide a solution, however the poppies are easy to grow and provide the highest cash output for available crops.

Next, some reports about the problem of fentanyl-laced heroin here in Chicago as wellas other cities. From a New York Times article discussing how addicts have responded to the threat (also discussed here):
[Chicago Police Superintendent Philip J.] Cline said city officials had been frustrated because warnings appeared to have partly backfired. Drug dealers were even seen waving the fliers the city distributed this year, advertising that they were selling the very thing the police were so worried about.

"The biggest problem is that we have willing victims," he said.


One heroin user, Sean H., 20, who was visiting the treatment van and spoke only on the condition that his last name not be used, said a friend died six weeks ago from a fentanyl-related overdose. The man, 24, specifically sought out fentanyl, Sean said, and had just recovered from one overdose. His body was found on a train.

Finally, some observations about heroin addiction from former prison doctor Theodore Dalrymple:
Heroin doesn't hook people; rather, people hook heroin. It is quite untrue that withdrawal from heroin or other opiates is a serious business, so serious that it would justify or at least mitigate the commission of crimes such as mugging. Withdrawal effects from opiates are trivial, medically speaking (unlike those from alcohol, barbiturates or even, on occasion, benzodiazepines such as valium), and experiment demonstrates that they are largely, though not entirely, psychological in origin. Lurid descriptions in books and depictions in films exaggerate them à la De Quincey (and also Coleridge, who was a chronic self-dramatizer).

I have witnessed thousands of addicts withdraw; and, notwithstanding the histrionic displays of suffering, provoked by the presence of someone in a position to prescribe substitute opiates, and which cease when that person is no longer present, I have never had any reason to fear for their safety from the effects of withdrawal. It is well known that addicts present themselves differently according to whether they are speaking to doctors or fellow addicts. In front of doctors, they will emphasize their suffering; but among themselves, they will talk about where to get the best and cheapest heroin.

Somehow, tyrannies congregate their interests, even across thousands of miles. Farmers, to protect their income, seek out the oppressive taliban, who are eager for both present support and future subjects to domineer. The criminals who purchase the poppies and convert it to heroin develop new markets by lacing their product with evermore powerful drugs, the better to enslave their victims. And the addicts themselves, tyrannized by the pleasures of the drug, concoct endless justifications for their continued use and the violent crimes they must commit to support their habit. Even medicine, by indulging a premise that observation disproves, is corrupted by this oppressive cycle.

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