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The Politics Of Heroin In Southeast Asia by Alfred W. McCoy. New York. 1972. Harper & Row. keywords: Asia Politics America Heroin Drugs Crime. 464 pages. Jacket design by Apteryx Studio. 0060129018.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   An exhaustive history that traces the growing, processing, transporting, and distribution of narcotics since the end of World War II. A landmark book of investigative reporting and history. The fabled Golden Triangle, where Laos, Thailand, and Burma meet, long a traditional opium-growing area, now provides 70 percent of the world's illicit supply of heroin. And many elements in the governments of these countries, and in the government of South Vietnam - most of which are supported by U. S. military and financial aid - are deeply (and lucratively) involved in the growing, processing, transport, and distribution of narcotics. How has this situation come about? Basing their narrative on firsthand research in Asia and Europe, the authors trace the whole story since the end of World War II. They demonstrate that during the First Indochina War (1946-1954) the security of Saigon and its environs and the loyalty of the hill tribes depended on profits from and some protection for the opium traffic. Similarly, it became necessary for the United States, when it took over the French commitment in 1954, to look the other way in the matter of the involvement in the drug traffic of succeeding Vietnamese regimes. After Diem's downfall in 1963 it became apparent that money from the rackets--especially narcotics--was vital to any regime's survival.    The authors found that in Laos, opium crops found their way from the hill villages into a secret base at Long Tieng; in Burma, the CIA financed remnants of Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Army, which later became self-supporting by taking over 90 pecent of the opium shipments from the rebel Shan States of Burma; that in Thailand, shaky regimes relied on American support and opium money to help bolster their stability. They also found that the Mafia, working through Corsican criminal syndicates from Marseille, had established outposts in Southeast Asia for its international narcotics smuggling operations during the French occupation. In spite of recent well-publicized seizures of massive shipments of heroin from Southeast Asia, heroin continues to flood the country, spreading into every level of this society and shredding the fabric of everyday life. U. S. government estimates of the number of addicts has leaped from 315,000 in 1969 to over 560,000 in 1972. This book puts all the pieces of this ghastly puzzle together, and then maps the possible avenues out of the horror, suggesting that America may have to choose between our commitments in Southeast Asia and getting heroin out of our high schools. In 1971, at the age of twenty-five, Alfred W. McCoy set out on an eighteen-month trip to Europe and Asia to investigate the global heroin trade. The resultant book, THE POLITICS OF HERON IN SOUTHEAST ASIA, brought him international recognition as a groundbreaking theorist of the politics and economics of drug trafficking. Its publication also embroiled him in a controversy with the Central Intelligence Agency Incensed by McCoy's charges that the agency had covered up the involvement of our Indochinese allies in heroin trafficking and had itself participated in aspects of the drug trade, the CIA tried to suppress the book before its release. Twenty years of research have led to this revised and updated edition of McCoy's classic. In it, he concludes that, with global production and consumption of narcotics at record levels and heroin use in America on the rise, it is time to confront the failure of the U. S. government's drug policy. 'Driven by a myopic moralism' since the legal sale of narcotics was banned in the early 1920s, U. S. policymakers, McCoy observes, have refused to recognize that their repression of the drug trade has only served to make it grow. Now dispersed across continents as a result of prohibition, the illicit drug trade is more resistant to suppression than ever before. The heroin problem will worsen, according to McCoy, until the U. S. government also puts an end to the CIA's involvement in the narcotics trade, which since World War II has been an integral part of the agency's efforts to maintain U. S. power abroad. If Congress had imposed restraints on CIA covert operations two decades ago, McCoy argues, it 'might have prevented the agency's complicity in the disastrous cocaine and heroin epidemics of the 1980s. This remarkable expose of official U. S. hypocrisy in its approaches to one of the world's greatest social problems offers an analysis that is destined to influence the public debate on drugs for years to come.

Alfred W. McCoy is professor of Southeast Asian history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Educated at Columbia, the University of California at Berkeley, and Yale, he has spent the past twenty years writing about the politics and history of Southeast Asia. He is the author of several books on the Philippines, one of which won the country's National Book Award, and the editor of Southeast Asia Under Japanese Occupation. An internationally recognized expert on drug trafficking and organized crime, he is also the author of DRUG TRAFFIC: NARCOTICS ANA1 ORGANIZED CRIME IN AUSTRALIA.

Cathleen B. Read is studying for a Ph. D. in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University.

Leonard P. Adams II has published several scholarly articles and is a Ph. D. candidate in Chinese history at Yale University. A landmark book of investigative reporting and history.

 

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