I know that I would rather be writing comedy than editorials on the sorry state of the world today, but it is hard to be funny when there is so much needless trouble with things just getting worse. It is unfortunate that those that have the will to fix it do not have the resources, and those with the resources have no desire to change a system that — at least for the moment — is serving as their cash cow.
I read an article in the Los Angeles Times last week about the drug trade in Afghanistan. One of the benefits of the U.S. invasion and conquest of the country has been a massive boom in the opium business. Cultivation there of the opium poppy is now at an all-time high with about 250,000 acres planted, and the crop accounts for 40-60 per cent of the nation’s GDP. Intelligence estimates put the value of the drug trade in Afghanistan at between $1 to $2.3 billion.
World wide the drug trade is a major business, not only for drug lords and the terrorists who use drug money to finance their campaigns, but also for the world’s banking system, and even for governments like the one in the U.S. whose agencies, notably the CIA, have participated in the drug trade to acquire unaccountable funds to pursue goals without oversight by elected authority.
Main stream political parties also benefit from the drug trade. It is estimated that about $500 million per year of drug money is deposited in U.S. banks. Because banks can loan out more money than they have on deposit the value of this is multiplied by up to ten times making the drug trade account for about seven per cent of the world’s economy. This drug money gives banks power, it makes for nice dividend cheques for bank investors, and a chunk of it goes to politicians in the form of contributions — politicians who are expected not to step too hard on banks or upset the apple cart, or poppy cart as the case may be.
The so-called war on drugs is not really a war on drugs but a war for drugs. It is a war about who will control the flow of drugs and profit from it. It is a war between drug dealers. Drugs are a major part of our economic engine.
The article on drugs mentioned Iraq which got me thinking about Vietnam and the drug problems there during the war. I checked with some sources close to the troops and the report came back that indeed drugs seem to be a problem in the ranks in Iraq. It doesn’t surprise me given the pressure that the U.S. military is being put under by the Bush administration that on one hand wants to fight wars all around the globe, while on the other does not want to beef up troop strength to spread the burden out. Sources also tell me that a lot of troops are not happy with the war and are beginning to question why they are there. The signs do not look auspicious for the U.S. colonization of Iraq and the Mid-East.
Gwynne Dyer, writing in the New Zealand Herald recentlysaid that whoever wins the presidential race in the U.S. may wind up with a poisoned chalice. He says that a U.S. defeat in Iraq is inevitable and that the economy is headed for the toilet with both a budget deficit and a huge trade deficit. As anyone who deals with U.S. currency knows, the dollar is already sliding.
Dyer’s predictions are supported by Stephen Roach who published an article with Morgan Stanley saying that the world economy is on a collision course. “The United States,” he says, “has squandered its domestic saving and is now drawing freely on the rest of the world’s savings pool.” This, he says, is subjecting other economies to mounting strains which will not be sustainable. What he doesn’t say is that when the economies are rebalanced whose backs the balancing will fall harder on. The average guy can look in the mirror if he wants the answer to that one.
A failing war, a collapsing economy and an economic system hooked on drugs: I am not too sure what the moral is here other than perhaps it is time to change the system.