The Political Economy of (Counter-)Insurgency in Afghanistan: Opium & Heroin + Syria & Captagon + analysis of Duterte’s policies
Veröffentlicht (Aktualisiert: ) in Geopolitik, Investigativjournalismus. Schlagwörter: Geopolitical Futures, Political Economy, The Political Economy of (Counter-)Insurgency.
What will be covered in this presentation:
- Interrelation of (counter-)insurgency and drug trafficking.
- The political economy of (Counter-)Insurgency in Afghanistan: Opium & Heroin
- The emergence of the Golden Triangle and reasons for its relocation to the Golden Crescent
- Policy Proposal
Excursus: Political Economy of (Counter-)Insurgency
Sources of income for terrorist groups:
- Hostage-taking & (bank & weapons) robbery
- Human trafficking and refugee smuggling
- Tax collection in dominated territories → the bourgeois state is also merely a protection racket
- Oil and/or drug trafficking
- Private donors and state support
- Hawala system
- Shell Companies & Front Companies
- Weapons & Dual-Use Goods
- (Food) Imports
- Informants and death squads
→ Financing of the domination system
Excursus: Economics of Drug Trafficking
- ~ 500 billion euros revenue per year
- Globalized trade
- The state creates monopolies through prohibition: the risk-taking dealer-entrepreneur
- At the level of big dealers: transition mafia ↔ terrorist group fluent
- Laundered drug money drives up (among other things) real estate prices
- Mafia structures have become powerful as a result of Prohibition, but have meanwhile diversified their income:
Trafficking of humans, weapons & organs, robbery, and blackmail, etc.
- Drugs, like any commodity, are exposed to supply and demand
- Relatively inelastic demand
- High profits possible due to illegality (uncertain supply)
→ „Risk surcharge“ (monopoly price/extra profit)
→ Extender: no quality control
→ No state guarantor of purchase contracts
- Partly feudal production methods
→ long working time → high price
- Oppression of supply & demand failed
Supply & Demand:
National economy Afghanistan – Export:
National economy Afghanistan – Import:
Opium production in Afghanistan in longitudinal section:
Influence of the Aghan opium market on the world market in longitudinal section:
Drug economy Afghanistan – the only true narco state:
- 1984: 60% of the U.S. and 80% of the European opium market
- 2009: 93% of the non-pharmaceutical opium market
- 2006 Estimate UNODC opium sales of Afghanistan: $2.7 billion ~52% GDP (up to: 62%)
- 3.3 million Afghans worked in the opium industry in 2007
- Feudal production methods not competitive in the pharmaceutical opium market, besides: lack of government regulation → surplus would flow to the black market
- 2010: leading hashish producer with about 1,500-3,500t as well as first signs of methamphetamine production. Ephedra grows wild in the mountains of Afghanistan. From this, ephedrine is extracted, which is essential for the production of the drug.
- 2009-2010: Dry Opium 73-125$/kg (farm-gate price), Heroin 2124-2715$/kg (in EU: 50€-100€/g, spread: multiplied), Hash 48-91$/kg (in EU: 1.000€/kg, 7-10€/g)
- 450kg ephedra (0.63€/kg) → 15kg ephedrine (57€/kg) → 10kg meth (259€/kg) → routes → 1g in EU: 10€-100€
- Refinement of drugs (ephedra → meth, opium → heroin) and transport in industrialized nations multiplies the value
- „Thus, the opium ban suddenly imposed by the Taliban proved to be an act of economic suicide that brought an already weakened society to the brink of collapse. In 2001, a UN investigation found that the ban had „caused severe income losses for an estimated 3.3 million people“ – about 15 percent of the population.“ Alfred McCoy → the opium ban was seen as monopolistic price manipulation, aimed at increasing the world market price by reducing supply amid inelastic demand
Geolocation of the cultivation areas:
Production areas & smuggling routes:
Brief history of the Political Economy of (Counter-)Insurgency:
Pro-colonial rackets like the Binh Xuyen financed their clandestine operations, their network of spies, informants, and death squads, and (and probably most significantly) their weapons, with the aid of the SDECE, using opium trafficking, which was turned into heroin by the Union Corse or the French Connection in Marseilles and sold by the Italian mafia. The CIA exported this model to Burma (Kuomintang, Shan), Nicaragua (Contra), Laos (Hmong), Sicily (Mafia), Italy (P2,3,4), Marseille (Union Corse), as well as Afghanistan (Taliban), to name just a few, and also had to resort to this model in the fight against the Vietcong after the withdrawal of the French in Vietnam, although the structures of the Corsican Mafia were dismantled beforehand. The logistics temporarily had to be taken over by the CIA front company Air America. The heroin, in turn, partly migrated into the veins of the GI’s in Vietnam, ironically closing the financing cycle.
„Necessity knows no law[…]that is why we deal with opium. We have to continue to fight the evil of Communism, and to fight you must have an army, and an army must have guns, and to buy guns you must have money. In these mountains the only money is opium.“ General Tuan (Kuomintang) – 1967
Interrelation (Counter-)Insurgency & Drug Trafficking
Kuomintang in the Shan States (Burma):
“Given its even greater involvement in the KMT’s Shan States opium commerce, how do we calculate the CIA’s role in the evolution of large-scale opium trafficking in the Burma-Thailand region? Under the Kennedy administration presidential adviser Walt W. Rostow popularized a doctrine of economic development that preached that a stagnant, underdeveloped economy could be jarred into a period of rapid growth, an economic „takeoff,“ by a massive injection of foreign aid and capital, which could then be withdrawn as the economy coasted into a period of self-sustained CIA support Phao and the KMT seems to have sparked such a „takeoff‘ in the Burma-Thailand opium trade during the 1950s: modern aircraft replaced mules, naval vessels replaced sampans, and well-trained military organizations expropriated the traffic from bands of illiterate mountain traders.” (Alfred McCoy – The Politics of Heroin, S. 144)
Shan-National-Army in Burma:
“Through his work for the CIA, U Ba Thein’s cross-border intelligence missions became inextricably interwoven with the fabric of the Burmese opium trade, and he became involved in a series of arms-for-opium deals between General Ouane and the Shans. Since the Pathet Lao occupied the entire Laotian-Chinese frontier area, CIA tribal intelligence teams had to pass through the Burmese Shan States before entering Yunnan (instead of crossing the border directly from Nam Tha Province). As a result, the CIA had to depend on Shan rebels to guide its teams up to the Chinese border, protect its forward radio posts inside the Shan States and provide transportation between these radio posts and its forward bases in Nam Tha. Almost every aspect of these intelligence missions was somehow involved with the logistics of the Burmese opium trade.[…]Under Gnar Kham and U Ba Thein’s supervision, the opium-arms commerce produced a marked improvement in Shan military capabilities and a dramatic shift in the balance of forces in Kengtung State. In 1962 most of the rebel units in Kengtung were little more than bands of outlaws hiding in the most remote mountains. After gathering opium taxes from the few villages under their control, each of the local commanders led a caravan to Gnar Kham’s forward caravan camp at Huei Krai, Thailand, and used the opium to buy U.S. automatic weapons from the Laotian army. With more weapons, the rebel groups were able to take control of additional opium-growing villages before the next year’s harvest was in. More opium taxes meant more automatic weapons from U Ba Thein’s rear-area headquarters near Ban Houei Sai, which in turn meant control over more villages and still more opium. The symbiotic cycle of opium and arms spiraled upward into a military whirlwind that swept the Burmese army out of the countryside into a few well guarded cities. By 1965 the SNA’s seven major local commanders had an estimated five thousand soldiers under their command and controlled most of Kengtung State’s twelve thousand square miles” (Alfred McCoy – The Politics of Heroin, S. 306 – 311)
Hmong in Laos:
“Wartime conditions had increased Meo dependence on poppy cultivation, and the lack of air transport created serious economic problems for hill tribe opium farmers. Since the CIA was using the Meo population to combat Pathet Lao forces in the mountains of northeastern Laos, the prosperity and well being of this tribe was of to the agency’s success. By 1965 the CIA had created a Meo army of thirty thousand men that guarded radar installations vital to bombing North Vietnam, rescued downed American pilots, and battled Pathet Lao guerillas. Without air transport for their opium, the Meo faced economic ruin. There was simply no form of air transport available in northern Laos except the CIA’S charter airline Air America. And according to several sources, Air America began flying opium from mountain villages north and east of the Plain of Jars to Gen. Vang Pao’s headquarters at Long Tieng. Air America was known to be flying Meo opium late as 1971.” (Alfred McCoy – The Politics of Heroin, S. 263)
McCoy’s conclusion- the CIA’s influence on the opium trade in the Golden Triangle:
“But U.S. officials in Southeast Asia have always tended to consider the opium traffic a quaint local custom and have generally turned a blind eye to official involvement. A Laotian or Vietnamese general who so much as whispers the word „neutralism“ is likely to find himself on the next plane out of the country, but one who tells the international press about his role in the opium trade does not even merit a raised eyebrow. However, American involvement has gone far beyond coincidental complicity; embassies have covered up involvement by client governments, CIA contract airlines have carried opium, and individual CIA agents have winked at the opium traffic. As an indirect consequence of American involvement in the Golden Triangle region, opium production has steadily increased, no. 4 heroin production is flourishing, and the area’s poppy fields have become Iinked to markets in Europe and the United States. Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle already grows 70 percent of the world’s illicit opium, supplies an estimated 30 percent of America’s heroin, and is capable of supplying the United States with unlimited quantities of heroin for generations to come. “ (Alfred McCoy – The Politics of Heroin, S. 353)
Excerpt from John Kerry’s 1989 Commission of Committee report on assistance to Contra rebels‘ cocaine operations in Central America and the U.S.:
„If you ask: In the process of fighting a war against the Sandinistas, did people connected with the US government open channels which allowed drug traffickers to move drugs to the United States, did they know the drug traffickers were doing it, and did they protect them from law enforcement? The answer to all those questions is yes.“ (Jack Blum, chief investigator for the Kerry Senate subcommittee)
Thesis G. Webbs:
Contra connections in the U.S. were exclusively black big-time dealers like Rick Ross → supply to other exclusively black big-time dealers from West to East Coast → cheap prices of contras and conversion of cocaine to crack enabled black working class to consume → crack epidemic & „0.5 wars“ (Celo) & disproportionate number of blacks in jails
Reappraisal in the popular music of the culture industry:
„My stanzas, I gotta hand ‚em out to fiends like samplers
But honestly, I should’ve went to Stanford
But what I learned from scrambling ain’t in the pamphlet
Gotta keep a tool like repairman (yep)
Can’t afford to be or move careless
Niggas’ll put that Mac-10 to your spare ribs
You heard a prophet spoke
I’m from the projects; to get by I sold dope
Had high hopes for folks that got high on coke
But used to be responsible adults
Fell from grace, in love with the way freebase taste
From the hoods of L.A. to B.K„
Interrelation (Counter-)Insurgency & Drug Trafficking, Part II
“Es war einer der Zufälle der Geschichte, dass der Eiserne Vorhang in den späten 40er Jahren an den Rändern der asiatischen Opiumzone fiel, sodass dort für die Dauer des Kalten Kriegs verdeckte Kriegführung und Opiumhandel miteinander verschmolzen. Entlang dieser 7.500 Kilometer langen Grenze Chinas und der Sowjetunion konvergierten Geschichte und Geografie zur Bildung zweier Brennpunkte des Kalten Kriegs: Afghanistan im Westen und das südostasiatische Goldene Dreieck im Osten. Östlich wie westlich des massiven, 3.000 Kilometer langen und 7.500 Meter hohen Gebirgsriegels von Himalaja und Hindukusch zogen über die Handelsrouten der beiden Regionen seit ewigen Zeiten Karawanen aus China und Zentralasien.[…]Aus der Sicht eines CIA-Agenten, der die Erfüllung seines Auftrags vor Augen hatte, befreite der Opiumhandel seine Organisation von den unbezahlbaren Kosten, die entstanden wären, hätte er sich selbst um die Wohlfahrt von Stämmen mit Tausenden von Mitgliedern kümmern müssen. Ebenso bedeutsam war, dass während der blutigen Kriege, die sich mit schweren Verlusten über Jahre hinzogen, die Kontrolle über diese zentrale landwirtschaftliche Einnahmequelle dem von der CIA ausgewählten Kriegsherrn die Herrschaft über Stämme, Clans und Dörfer ermöglichte. Da erbarmungslose Drogenfürsten wirkungsvolle antikommunistische Verbündete waren und Opium ihre Macht vermehrte, hatten CIA-Agenten, die eine halbe Welt von der Heimat entfernt allein auf sich gestellt operierten, allen Grund, den illegalen Drogenhandel zu dulden.[…]So erforderte das plötzliche Anschwellen der birmanischen Opiumproduktion in den 50er Jahren die Lufttransportlogistik der CIA, den militärischen Schutz durch Thailand und taiwanisches Finanzkapital. In gleicher Weise beruhte die steil ansteigende Opiumproduktion in Afghanistan in den 80er Jahren auf der logistischen Unterstützung des pakistanischen Geheimdienstes Interservice Intelligence (ISI), dem Schutz einer CIA-Geheimoperation und den Diensten pakistanischer Banken, besonders der Bank of Credit & Commerce International. ” Alfred McCoy
“To understand the Afghan War, one basic point must be grasped: in poor nations with weak state services, agriculture is the foundation for all politics, binding villagers to the government or warlords or rebels. The ultimate aim of counterinsurgency strategy is always to establish the state’s authority. When the economy is illicit and by definition beyond government control, this task becomes monumental. If the insurgents capture that illicit economy, as the Taliban have done, then the task becomes little short of insurmountable. First, the collision of CIA secret operations and Soviet conventional warfare led to the devastation of Afghanistan’s fragile highland ecology, damaging its traditional agriculture beyond immediate recovery, and fostering a growing dependence on the international drug trade. Of equal import, instead of conducting this covert warfare on its own as it had in Laos in the Vietnam War years, the CIA outsourced much of the operation to Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), which soon became a powerful and ever more problematic ally. When the ISI proposed its Afghan client, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, as overall leader of the anti-Soviet resistance, Washington — with few alternatives — agreed. Over the next 10 years, the CIA supplied some $2 billion to Afghanistan’s mujahedeen through the ISI, half to Hekmatyar, a violent fundamentalist infamous for throwing acid at unveiled women at Kabul University and, later, murdering rival resistance leaders. As the CIA operation was winding down in May 1990, the Washington Post published a front-page article charging that its key ally, Hekmatyar, was operating a chain of heroin laboratories inside Pakistan under the protection of the ISI.[…]Although this area had zero heroin production in the mid-1970s, the CIA’s covert war served as the catalyst that transformed the Afghan-Pakistan borderlands into the world’s largest heroin producing region. As mujahedeen guerrillas captured prime agricultural areas inside Afghanistan in the early 1980s, they began collecting a revolutionary poppy tax from their peasant supporters.” Alfred McCoy
“Once the Afghan guerrillas brought the opium across the border, they sold it to hundreds of Pakistani heroin labs operating under the ISI’s protection. Between 1981 and 1990, Afghanistan’s opium production grew ten-fold — from 250 tons to 2,000 tons. After just two years of covert CIA support for the Afghan guerrillas, the U.S. Attorney General announced in 1981 that Pakistan was already the source of 60% of the American heroin supply. Across Europe and Russia, Afghan-Pakistani heroin soon captured an even larger share of local markets, while inside Pakistan itself the number of addicts soared from zero in 1979 to 1.2 million just five years later.[…]During the 1990s, Afghanistan’s soaring opium harvest fueled an international smuggling trade that tied Central Asia, Russia, and Europe into a vast illicit market of arms, drugs, and money-laundering. It also helped fuel an eruption of ethnic insurgency across a 3,000-mile swath of land from Uzbekistan in Central Asia to Bosnia in the Balkans[…]To defeat the Taliban in the aftermath of 9/11, the CIA successfully mobilized former warlords long active in the heroin trade to seize towns and cities across eastern Afghanistan.[…]The idea that our expanded military presence might soon succeed in driving back that force and handing over pacification to the illiterate, drug-addicted Afghan police and army remains, for the time being, a fantasy. Quick fixes like paying poppy farmers not to plant, something British and Americans have both tried, can backfire and end up actually promoting yet more opium cultivation. Rapid drug eradication without alternative employment, something the private contractor DynCorp tried so disastrously under a $150 million contract in 2005, would simply plunge Afghanistan into more misery, stoking mass anger and destabilizing the Kabul government further.” Alfred McCoy
“Es war einer der Zufälle der Geschichte, dass der Eiserne Vorhang in den späten 40er Jahren an den Rändern der asiatischen Opiumzone fiel, sodass dort für die Dauer des Kalten Kriegs verdeckte Kriegführung und Opiumhandel miteinander verschmolzen. Entlang dieser 7.500 Kilometer langen Grenze Chinas und der Sowjetunion konvergierten Geschichte und Geografie zur Bildung zweier Brennpunkte des Kalten Kriegs: Afghanistan im Westen und das südostasiatische Goldene Dreieck im Osten. Östlich wie westlich des massiven, 3.000 Kilometer langen und 7.500 Meter hohen Gebirgsriegels von Himalaja und Hindukusch zogen über die Handelsrouten der beiden Regionen seit ewigen Zeiten Karawanen aus China und Zentralasien.[…]Aus der Sicht eines CIA-Agenten, der die Erfüllung seines Auftrags vor Augen hatte, befreite der Opiumhandel seine Organisation von den unbezahlbaren Kosten, die entstanden wären, hätte er sich selbst um die Wohlfahrt von Stämmen mit Tausenden von Mitgliedern kümmern müssen. Ebenso bedeutsam war, dass während der blutigen Kriege, die sich mit schweren Verlusten über Jahre hinzogen, die Kontrolle über diese zentrale landwirtschaftliche Einnahmequelle dem von der CIA ausgewählten Kriegsherrn die Herrschaft über Stämme, Clans und Dörfer ermöglichte. Da erbarmungslose Drogenfürsten wirkungsvolle antikommunistische Verbündete waren und Opium ihre Macht vermehrte, hatten CIA-Agenten, die eine halbe Welt von der Heimat entfernt allein auf sich gestellt operierten, allen Grund, den illegalen Drogenhandel zu dulden.[…]So erforderte das plötzliche Anschwellen der birmanischen Opiumproduktion in den 50er Jahren die Lufttransportlogistik der CIA, den militärischen Schutz durch Thailand und taiwanisches Finanzkapital. In gleicher Weise beruhte die steil ansteigende Opiumproduktion in Afghanistan in den 80er Jahren auf der logistischen Unterstützung des pakistanischen Geheimdienstes Interservice Intelligence (ISI), dem Schutz einer CIA-Geheimoperation und den Diensten pakistanischer Banken, besonders der Bank of Credit & Commerce International. ” Alfred McCoy“Für die Eroberung Kabuls und anderer Schlüsselstädte investierte die CIA ihr Geld in die Führer der Nordallianz, eine tadschikische Stammestruppe, die in den 1980er Jahren gegen die Sowjets gekämpft hatte und in den 1990ern der Taliban-Regierung widerstand. Diese Warlords hatten ihrerseits lange den Drogenhandel in dem von ihnen während der Taliban-Jahre kontrollierten Gebiet Nordostafghanistans beherrscht. Ferner setzte sich die CIA mit einer Gruppe aufstrebender paschtunischer Kriegs-herren entlang der pakistanischen Grenze ins Benehmen, die im südöstlichen Teil Afghanistans als Drogenschmuggler operiert hatten. Als das Taliban-Regime kollabierte, waren die Voraussetzungen dafür, Opiumanbau und Drogenhandel in großem Stil wieder aufzunehmen, also bereits geschaffen. Sobald Kabul und die Provinzhauptstädte erobert waren, übertrug die CIA die operative Kontrolle rasch auf verbündete Truppen und Zivilbeamte. In den folgenden Jahren überließen die untauglichen Antidrogenprogramme dieser Kräfte die wachsenden Profite aus dem Heroinhandel de facto zunächst den Warlords und später großteils den Taliban-Guerilleros. Eine historisch bei-spiellose Entwicklung führte so dazu, dass 2003 illegale Drogen 62 Prozent des afghanischen Bruttoinlandsprodukts ausmachten.[…]2007 stellte dann der UN-Opiumbericht für Afghanistan fest, dass die in diesem Jahr erzielte Rekordernte von etwa 8200 Tonnen für 93 Prozent des illegalen Heroinnachschubs weltweit sorgte. Wichtig war auch die Erkenntnis, dass die Taliban-Kämpfer „begonnen haben, aus der Drogenwirtschaft Ressourcen für Waffen, Logistik und Soldzahlungen abzuzweigen.“ Alfred McCoy
“How could this be possible? How could the world’s sole superpower have battled continuously for more than 16 years – deploying more than 100,000 troops at the conflict’s peak, sacrificing the lives of nearly 2,300 soldiers, spending more than $1tn (£740bn) on its military operations, lavishing a record $100bn more on “nation-building”, helping fund and train an army of 350,000 Afghan allies – and still not be able to pacify one of the world’s most impoverished nations?[…]Caravans carrying CIA arms into that region for the resistance often returned to Pakistan loaded down with opium – sometimes, reported the New York Times, “with the assent of Pakistani or American intelligence officers who supported the resistance”.[…]“Afghan government officials have become directly involved in the opium trade”, the New York Times reported in February 2016. In so doing, they expanded “their competition with the Taliban … into a struggle for control of the drug traffic”, while imposing “a tax on farmers practically identical to the one the Taliban uses”. In a process that implicated virtually the entire government, provincial officials then passed a portion of their illicit profits “up the chain, all the way to officials in Kabul … ensuring that the local authorities maintain support from higher-ups and keeping the opium growing.” Alfred McCoy
„Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency“ (New York Times)
The report by the Paris-based Observatoire Geopolitique des Drogues (Geopolitical Drugs Observatory), identifies warring factions in the former Yugoslav republics and Turkey as key players in the accelerating drugs-for-arms trade in the region. Albanian nationalists ( UCK) in ethnically tense Macedonia and the former Serbian province of Kosovo have built a vast heroin network that runs from the opium fields of Pakistan to black market arms dealers in Switzerland, transporting up to $2 billion worth of drugs annually into the heart of Europe, the report says.
“We must grow and sell opium to fight our holy war against the Russian nonbelievers.”
“In a scathing report two years ago, a consultant hired by the CIA warned that drug corruption had permeated virtually all segments of Pakistani society and that drug king-pins were closely connected to the country’s key institutions of power, including the president and military intelligence agencies. About 70 tons of heroin is produced annually in Pakistan, a third of which is smuggled abroad, mostly to the West, according to the State Department’s 1994 report on international drug trafficking. About 20 percent of all heroin consumed in the United States comes from Pakistan and its northern neighbor, Afghanistan, the second largest opium producer in the world after Burma. The United Nations says that as much as 80 percent of the heroin in Europe comes from the region. It has been rumored for years that Pakistan’s military has been involved in the drug trade. Pakistan’s army, and particularly its intelligence agency–the equivalent of the CIA–is immensely powerful and is known for pursuing its own agenda. Over the years, civilian political leaders has accused the military which has run Pakistan for more than half its 47 years of independence–of developing the country’s nuclear technology and arming insurgents in India and other countries without their knowledge or approval and some times in direct violation of civilian orders. Historically, the army’s chief of staff has been the most powerful person in the country.According to military sources, the intelligence agency has been pinched for funds since the war in Afghanistan ended in 1989 and foreign governments–chiefly the United States–stopped funneling money and arms through the ISI to Afghan mujaheddin guerrillas fighting the Soviet-backed Kabul government. Without the foreign funds, the sources said, it has been difficult for the agency to continue the same level of operations in other areas, including aiding militants fighting Indian troops across the border in Kashmir. Such operations are increasingly being financed through money raised by such private organizations as the Jamiat-i-Islami, a leading fundamentalist political party. A Western diplomat who was based in Islamabad at the time of the purported meeting and who had occasional dealings with Beg and Durrani, said, `It’s not inconceivable that they could come up with a plan like this.’” (JOHN WARD ANDERSON AND KAMRAN KHAN)
Conclusion: Interrelation (Counter-)Insurgency & Drug Trafficking
- The rise of the Golden Triangle, as well as the shift to the Golden Crescent, were causally dependent on the shift of the proxy wars (during the Cold War) from Indochina to Afghanistan
- CIA involvement in drug trafficking of Southeast Asia and South America: industrialization of logistics, military protection, political protection, and embassy-covered concealment of drug trafficking by the Shan, Kuomintang, Hmong, Contras, and Thai and South Vietnamese security agencies
- Opium-for-weapons trafficking in Afghanistan was conducted through the ISI, which in the same process emerged as mighty and uncontrollable.
- First, with the Taliban prototypes of the Mujahedin – „freedom fighters“ who threw acid in the faces of studying women (or worse) (cf. Gulbuddin Hekmatyār) – an insurgency was financed with opium, after 9/11 with drug rackets (cf. Karzai family) as well as Tajik and Uzbek tribes a counter-insurgency against the Taliban was financed with opium.
- Financing of the Albanian Mafia/UCK, connection UCK ↔ Chechnya ↔ Taliban & Al Qaida (↔ ETIM)
Cold War ≠ clash of civilizations
„Was ist wohl bedeutender für den Lauf der Weltgeschichte? Ein paar verwirrte Muslime oder die Befreiung Mitteleuropas und das Ende des Kalten Krieges?“ (Brzezinski)
Under President Taraki, the following reforms were introduced:
Prohibition of forced marriages and introduction of a minimum age for marriage. Introduction of freedom of religion for religious minorities within the framework of official atheism Ban on the burqa for women Abolition of the obligation for men to wear beards State supervision and control of all mosques Agrarian reform: upheaval of land ownership in the countryside by transforming the feudal property system into a socialist one Industrialization Expansion of foreign trade relations with the Eastern bloc countries Introduction of compulsory education, especially for girls Establishment of a public health care system
Decay of the state in rackets
Spiral of the stabilization of destabilization:
Profiteers in Afghanistan:
Racket social structure in Afghanistan:
Uneven distribution of profit margins:
Incentives for peasants:
- The average opium-producing family cultivated 0.37 hectares of opium poppy and earned about $3800 (2014) or $3100 (2015) per hectare. This amount is 14 times higher than what a family could have earned from growing wheat: $266 per hectare → Cash Crop
- Opium is easy to store, has a long shelf life, is relatively transportable, and requires little water and land
→ Optimal conditions for Afghanistan → Cannabis does not have a long shelf life, and is worth less per g: lower profit margin → Opium > Hashish.
- Weak state power: no fear of repression
- Connection to international rackets: logistical infrastructure for export
- Indebtedness to opium traffickers & ability to obtain loans for opium cultivation
- Own addiction
- 40 years of war: no industry, no alternative jobs
- Extortion – choice: opium cultivation or assassination
- → The Incentives can be applied with restrictions to small traders as well, but: slightly higher profit margin, need for capital and the potential possibility to launder money in own, small and above all legitimate business → exit strategy
Incentives for Taliban & Other Rackets:
- Drugs are haram, but the end (jihad) justifies the means: opium-for-weapons deals
- Loyalty and in general financing or feeding of the farmers
- High-profit margins
- Tax levied on drug trafficking: incentive to increase sales (respectively: create conditions for international smugglers to move freely within their territory)
- Funds used to buy weapons, informants, death squads, and state officials → Later: funding a post-state ruling and social system
- Increase in production partly due to loss of foreign funds after USSR withdrawal
- Ability to defend larger quantities by force of weapons against Iranian, Pakistani, and Afghan authorities
Incentives for fighters:
- Ideological motivation (jihad, war of national liberation, etc.)
- Comparatively high salary
- 40 years of war: no industry, no alternative professions
- Depending on the intensity of religious fanaticism: addiction;
war drugs: pervitin → captagon
- „In 2008, the rebels reportedly collected $425 million in „taxes“ on the opium trade, and each new crop provided them with enough funds to recruit a new cohort of young fighters in the villages. Each of these guerrilla warriors could count on monthly allowances of $300-far more than he could have earned as a farm laborer.“
Incentives for intelligence services:
- Ability to fund proxies, clandestine operations, etc. „of the books“
- Autonomous funding of allies
- The loyalty of ethnic groups, tribes, and peasants
- Strategic use of the „underworld“ as a source of information as well as ruling structure (funding: informants, death squads, spies, politicians)
- Strategic triggering of heroin epidemics in enemy armies or societies
- Partial control over the international drug trade
Opposing proxies also finance themselves through the illicit drug market. The protected rise of heroin and crack caused a blowback in the Homeland.
Heroin: A globalized market
“Though India and Afghanistan had some lively local opium smuggling, they had no connections with the international criminal syndicates.”
Alfred McCoy on the situation in 1971
MoD/CIA ≠ DEA
“While it is true that Karzai’s Taliban enemies finance themselves from the drug trade, so do many of his supporters. At the same time, some of our NATO allies have resisted the anti-opium offensive, as has our own Defense Department, which tends to see counternarcotics as other people’s business to be settled once the war-fighting is over. The trouble is that the fighting is unlikely to end as long as the Taliban can finance themselves through drugs and as long as the Kabul government is dependent on opium to sustain its own hold on power.[…]The effort became even more complicated later in 2006, when Benjamin Freakley, the two-star U.S. general who ran the eastern front, shut down all operations by the D.E.A. and Afghan counternarcotics police in Nangarhar a key heroin-trafficking province. The general said that antidrug operations were an unnecessary obstacle to his military operations.[…]British forces – centered in Helmand – actually issued leaflets and bought radio advertisements telling the local criminals that the British military was not part of the anti-poppy effort.[…]Indeed, two senior Pentagon officials threatened me with professional retaliation if we made the unclassified document public. When we went ahead anyway, the Pentagon leaked the contents of the classified version to Peter Gilchrist, a British general posted in Washington. Defense Department officials were thus enlisting a foreign government to help kill U.S. policy – a policy that implicitly recognized that the Pentagon’s “sequencing” approach had failed and that the Defense Department would have to get more involved in fighting the narcotics trade.[…]Payment for eradication, however, is disastrous counternarcotics policy: If you pay cash for poppies, farmers keep the cash and grow poppies again next year for more cash. And farmers who grow less-lucrative crops start growing poppies so that they can get the money, too. Drug experts call this type of offer a “perverse incentive,” and it has never worked anywhere in the world.”
US-Ambassador Thomas Schweich – former Coordinator for Counternarcotics and Justice Reform in Afghanistan
→ “When, through a back channel, I briefed the under secretary of defense for intelligence, James Clapper, on the relationship between drugs and the insurgency, he said he had “never heard any of this.”
(Thomas Schweich, Hervorhebung Laemmergeier)
→(im-) plausible deniability:
“In 2010, a poppy-specific blight dramatically reduced opium yields in southern Afghanistan. This large, unanticipated supply shock provides an opportunity to estimate the relevant elasticity. I find that demand for opium is relatively inelastic, with a range of estimates running from -0.33 to -0.44. Taken together, the results imply that anti-opium efforts substantially increased the resources flowing to the Taliban. For each kilogram of opium removed from the market, the estimates imply that only one-sixth of a kilogram would have come from Taliban-heavy areas. Demand is sufficiently inelastic that, absent supply responses,the value of remaining opium would rise substantially, increasing the net income of farmers in Taliban-heavy areas by around $120. Supply responded quickly, and did so largely in Taliban-heavy districts. All told, the opium-source income of farmers in these districts rose from $240million in2004to $580million in 2010.[…]Flows of income from the opiate industry to Taliban-heavy territory have an unambiguously negative effect on U.S. welfare; this income undermines U.S. security interests as well as its concerns associated with the war on drugs. U.S. sentiment towards flows of opiate income to government-controlled territories is less clear. On the one hand, it is associated with the narcotics industry, with its implications for global public health and corruption within Afghanistan. On the other hand, it contributes to our ally’s resource base and improves the livelihoods of low-income families on whose loyalty our ally’s government relies.[…]The parameterization implies that seizing or deterring the production of one kilo-gram of opium channels roughly $116 in income to farmers in Taliban-heavy areas. The intended effect of reducing Taliban income by seizing0.18kilogram from areas they influence is swamped by the unintended effect of increasing the value of their remaining opium stocks. This increase is large both because demand is relatively inelastic and because an additional 0.82kilogram of opium in government-controlled territory has simultaneously been removed from the market.[…]When targeting faces few impediments, as may be true in the case of oil infrastructure, successful economic warfare becomes plausible. When targeting is difficult, the prospects for success are highly unfavorable; poorly targeted enforcement can only yield the intended result when the relevant market’s demand is highly elastic.“ (Clemens)
Additional note: Political economy of the hashish and opium trade
- Absolute surplus-value creation, no relative surplus-value creation possible due to feudal production methods and war-related lack of industrialization/investment
→ The exploitation of peasants and small traders by protection rackets: exploitation of their low reproduction costs, their historically poverty-induced needs
- The exploitation of the global, drug-using worker through extender (extra profit!), inefficient production & logistics chains, and middlemen (high price!)
- A paying demand still ensured a corresponding supply in the capitalist world: criminalization – punishment & social structure (Cf. Kirchheimer/Rushe) – especially of the lumpen proletarians/industrial reserve army, ergo: the petty criminal dealers, who are mostly end-consumers themselves, as well as cannot be utilized on the current labor market and who are ultimately exposed to the highest risk by the contact with the consumer, who is mostly decriminalized in the industrialized nations
- The tendency of the worldwide drug consumption to shift from hashish & opium & LSD („downer“) to cocaine & (meth-)amphetamine („upper“) due to the demands and resulting ideals of the post-modern efficiency society
Policy-Vorschlag: legalize it
- Suppression of supply failed, partly serves to finance (counter-)insurgencies, necessary relief of the legal system, economically insane waste of money, capital and manpower in a black market economy that is inefficient in the long run, freehand for the DEA would provoke an uprising of the tribes, destruction of the plants subsidizes the Taliban
- Religion is not only the opium of the people, opium finances the religious fanaticism of the Afghan masses
- Feudal production methods not competitive on the world market
- Repeal prohibition → production, sales, and profits shift (assuming reasonable taxes) to industrialized nations → spend profits on nation-building, development aid for farmers, the welfare state, and preventive measures
- Suppression of demand has failed & is totalitarian → inelastic demand → psychotherapeutically guided dispensing of heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, etc. and outright legalization of cannabis
- „Legalization of drug use would help. The Western middle class mainly consumes drugs grown in Afghanistan.“ (Ashraf Ghani)
Syria and the Captagon Problem of the Middle East:
For years, there have been increasing reports of busted Captagon cargoes in European and Arab ports, of Syrian fighters fighting on the front lines without hunger or fear.
Fenetylline or Captagon is a stronger variant of methylphenidate or Ritalin. It is an ADHD medication. It, therefore, has similar effects to amphetamine and crystal meth. In the body, it is converted to theophylline and amphetamine. In reality in Syria, however, the tablets are often adulterated with (meth)amphetamine or (insofar as the split in the manufacturing costs is reasonable) research chemicals such as methylenedioxypyrovalerone, 2-Fluoroamphetamine, or ortetamine. The difference between these wake-up amines lies, among other things, in the effect on the central nervous system: Is norepinephrine and dopamine massively released (e.g. amphetamine), or „only“ the reuptake inhibited (e.g.: methylphenidate, methylenedioxypyrovalerone).
Like crystal meth or „Panzerschokolade“ (Pervitin), Captagon is a war drug: it focuses, suppresses the need for sleep, and kills the emotions, so exactly the effect one wants to achieve with a low dose in children with ADHD, creates a perfect soldier in the same or slightly higher dosage. The substances were originally developed, like Red Bull (before it found its way to Europe via Thailand), by the Japanese military and were used by every war party in WWII.
A soldier who can run, march, or fight significantly longer is worth as much as two soldiers. A soldier who is not afraid is a dangerous opponent, which is why even ISIL allowed the use of such combat drugs for jihad – although any intoxication is in principle haram. Fear and boredom in the trenches can certainly be overcome by nervously smoking a cigarette during a rush of norepinephrine and dopamine. Pervitin (i.e. crystal meth) was still available in the stocks of the German armed forces until about the mid-70s. After that, the war wake-up amine used to be Captagon from Bayer. Captagon is no longer available in Germany.
The successor is now called Ritalin and Concerta: ADHD medications.
Meanwhile, the illegal production of massive amounts of adulterated Captagon within the Arab homelands floods half the world from Saudi Arabia to Italy with that drug. The profits, in turn, are used to fund all kinds of proxies and states within the MENA region’s civil wars – especially in Syria.
An important factor for the possibility of Captaghon use within Islamist orthodoxy is that drugs are almost completely prohibited according to Islamic doctrine, while medications are permitted. This could be an ideological loophole, as Captagon, unlike meth or amphetamine, was rarely manufactured illegally and sold in raw form as a narcotic.
- „Syria is a narco-state with two primary drugs of concern: hashish and the amphetamine-type stimulant Captagon. Syria is the global epicentre of Captagon production, which is now more industrialised, adaptive, and technically sophisticated than ever.“ (COAR)
- „In 2020, Captagon exports from Syria reached a market value of at least 3.46 billion USD“ (COAR)
- Assad regime, its Shiite allies (f.e. Hezbollah), and Sunni opponents (some of whom are likely supported by the West) are involved in the Captagon trade
- „However, it is important that narcotics enforcement initiatives not be conflated with heavily securitised counter-terror operations, or otherwise empower retrograde, socially repressive anti-drug practices.“ (COAR) → “never heard any of this” (James Clapper to Thomas Schweich in context Opium & Afghanistan)
- Production of Captagon spilled over from Europe to Iran and Lebanon, and meanwhile has arrived in Syria as a result of the collapse of state power respectively financing
- „[I]n 2012, the Jabhat al-Nusra — an Islamist group — annonunced that its forces had uncovered and destroyed cannabis fields and Captagon laboratories in territory seized from the Syrian Government in the Qalamoun Mountains. Soon thereafter, Iranian media reported the discovery of a Captagon lab in territory seized from Jabhat al-Nusra and Free Syrian Army fighters.[…][T]here is little evidence to suggest that IS ever produced or trafficked in Captagon as part of a wide-reaching institutional funding imperative. Likewise, to the extent that IS fighters consumed Captagon or other narcotics, consumption was likely a personal choice rather than a product of institutional combat directives.[…]Local sources indicate that hashish is smuggled to Iraq via Ya’robiyah by the Sanadid Forces, a Kurdish People’s Protection Forces (YPG)-aligned militia composed of fighters from the Shummar tribe. […]Within northern Syria, drug trafficking is reportedly controlled by Syrian National Army–affiliated actors and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). Individual narco-entrepreneurs facilitate onward trafficking into Turkey and — potentially — Europe.[…]Various military entities of diverse backgrounds and affiliations are involved in supply chains, transit, and protection rackets. These include divisions of national military entities (e.g., the 4th Division, Air Intelligence, Republican Guard, and Military Intelligence Branch 215), local militias and private security companies (e.g., National Defense Forces, Desert Hawks, Baath Brigades, Saraya Al-Areen), and foreign armed groups of various affiliation (e.g., Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hezbollah, and Wagner Group). That said, production is geographically fragmented and occurs within set hierarchies, and narco-trafficking in Government-held territory — the epicentre of Syria’s national drug industry — is understood as a monopoly controlled at the uppermost levels by the Assad regime and its close allies.[…]Among the most noted narco-entrepreneurs in Syria are inner circle figures including Maher al-Assad, Wasim Badia al-Assad, Muhammad Shalish, and Samer al-Assad.“ (COAR)
- “When Syria invaded Lebanon in the ’90s there were many reports showing the Syrian military were aiding and abetting hashish and opium production in the Bekaa Valley” (Laurent Laniel)
- „[B]y 2018, Syria’s national GDP had shrunk to 21 billion USD, down from 67 USD billion in 2011. More troubling yet is the near-total elimination of foreign exports, which amounted to less than 700 USD million in 2019. In 2020 alone, foreign law enforcement agencies intercepted no fewer than four shipments of Syrian Captagon each with an estimated street value exceeding 300 million USD.“ (COAR) → The most important source of foreign currencies
- On 17/05/2021, a record seizure of 234 kilograms of Captagon, which was en route from Bavaria via Hamburg to Saudi Arabia, was reported. Of particular interest in this context is the question of where the drugs have been produced?
According to Thomas Rauscher, LL.M. (Austin/U.S.A.), a common smuggling route is to traffic Captagon, which is not consumed in the Northern European market – unlike (meth)amphetamine and cocaine – via Turkey, Austria, or Germany from Syria/Lebanon to Saudi Arabia. The borders between Turkey and the EU are more difficult to control (Cf. refugee land route: Balkan route? UÇK?) and shipments from Germany or Austria are apparently more trustworthy for the Saudi authorities than those coming directly from narco-states such as Turkey (Cf. Deep State: Racket-Connections of mafia, economy, and politics/executive #MIT), Syria, or Lebanon. It is suspected that the record trove was produced in Syria and smuggled to Europe via Turkey, in order to bring it safely to Saudi Arabia. A 35-year-old Syrian citizen hid the cargo on pallets with building materials in the warehouse of a resettlement farm in the district of Straubing Bogen. By means of a trucking company, these pallets full of illicit drugs hidden under legal materials should apparently have been brought to Hamburg for shipment to Saudi Arabia.
This proves once again the irrational inefficiency of the black market economy.
If the land route, i.e. the Balkan route, has been used, it is likely that the substance is smuggled through the same logistical infrastructure as the heroin from Afghanistan. It could therefore be that the Albanian mafia or the UÇK brought the substance to the 35-year-old Syrian in Niederbayern. Also, the possible involvement of the Turkish secret service, can not be excluded after the rapprochement of Russia and Turkey and the fact that the Assad family is involved in the big-time trade. At the end of the day, money is more important to individuals than the geopolitics of the collective. Laemmergeier.info, however, considers it more probable that the UÇK was involved.
- „[G]rowing narcotics trade in crisis-hit Lebanon and war-torn Syria, which share a porous border and whose legitimate economies are both collapsing“ (Financial Times)
→ Is a Captagon post-state emerging – analogous to Afghanistan and opium? Will methamphetamine production shift from Afghanistan to Syria/Lebanon? Ephedra, the natural precursor of methamphetamine, also grows in Syria. A war-related narcotics economy is the logical consequence of the history of the political economy of (counter)insurgency. Even after the revolution or civil war has subsided, massive sanctions can coerce a state entity to enter the black market economy: North Korea allegedly forces diplomats to deal drugs for hard cash. The Captagon trade is apparently Syria’s most important source of foreign currencies. In any case, the sale of drugs has been an ideal way to obtain foreign currency for decades, even though the relevant territory is internationally sanctioned.
Outlook/Questions for an upcoming revision of my analysis of Duterte’s policies (2021):
- Is the liberal party, which is supported by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FDP), the party of a drug-selling oligarch class? Or is Duterte simply governing by lists, using his War on Drugs to eliminate politicians hostile to him (Leila de Lima and Maria Lourdes Sereno)? Duterte’s son-in-law is accused of being involved in major drug trafficking (Mexican & Chinese cartels): is Duterte possibly eliminating competing oligarchic drug rackets? Which story is black propaganda?
- The NPA and even the MILF have assisted Duterte in his War on Drugs. However, as the above analysis shows, there is a link between insurgency and drug trafficking. So what interests do the armed rebel groups possess when they enter the fray? Ideological (fighting hedonism), or simply financial (eliminating competing drug rackets) interests? Does Abu Sayyaf finance itself from drug trafficking? For example, in the region around Jolo?
- How exactly does the commissioning of death squads and payment by the police work? Case analysis! One thing is clear: the fight against drugs is a fight against the lower class. On Tinder (2019, Philippines), I texted strange women who were probably men: One had a plant in her profile and wrote openly about bong smoking. She claimed she was upper class, so she could get away with it.
Anyway, the war on drugs, according to one passerby at the domestic airport, is aimed at drug junkies who rob cabs for their next fix, and not at the big cartels and the political structures that support them.
- The Konrad Adenauer Foundation (CDU) supported the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan during Duterte’s election campaign. Does the CDU back Duterte’s War on Drugs?
- Is Maria Ressa being funded by the CIA? Is her funding really legal, as she claims, or does Duterte have the right to take her to court under Philippine law for funding journalism by foreign powers? Did social bots really attack Maria Ressa during Duterte’s 2016 campaign, or was the mood simply tipping in the years to come, as she was believed to be a CIA-funded opponent of the president? Quantitative opinion polls show that Duterte’s War on Drugs enjoys about 80% approval. Already with 10-20% AfD votes in Germany, the comment columns in Youtube and Twitter are full of hate. So Maria Ressa may have been mostly insulted by real Filipinos, but according to a study by Oxford University (((MI6))) , Duterte spent 200,000 US dollars in the election campaign alone on cyber troops that spread his propaganda and bring the opposition and critical journalists into disrepute. The „troll army“ apparently included 400-500 actors.
- The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (Die Linke) supported the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) during the coalition negotiations with Duterte. Does the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation back Duterte’s war on drugs? Does the Foundation back the NPA? What is the Foundation’s position on the fact that the NPA has entered the War on Drugs?
Excerpt of Laemmergeier’s old analysis (Spring 2019):
„If a society is too strongly polarized economically, it splits politically.[…]In the political sphere of the Philippines, politicians are elected as persons, not on the basis of their party’s political program. After the vote, the representatives change the camp to the winner of the presidential election. It is a struggle of charisma, not of ideas. Duterte has a strong belief in his own initiatives and manages to fascinate the masses. Clientelism and political patronage relations, ultimately rackets, determine the political system of the Philippines. The Duterte Clan can rely on conditions that survived the fall of the dictator Marcos. Corruption and nepotism are the results. The population is modernly atomized, thrown back on itself as monads in competition, while the political caste is more reminiscent of a pre-modern tribal community. Clans and family ties dominate the Senate, the House of Representatives, and local government offices. Bureaucracy, judiciary, police, and military are corrupt. The economy and land are in the hands of a few families, some of whom became rich during the Marcos regime and were not successfully attacked by the EDSA revolution. The social framework that affirms inequality remained intact. The Philippines have the highest poverty rates among the ASEAN countries, real wage development lags behind strong GDP growth, but the latter has barely affected the income inequality between rich and poor: the Gini index has stagnated at a poor level in recent decades (2015: 40.1).That difference is geographically doubled. The highest salaries are paid on the main island of Luzon, especially in the metropolitan region of Manila, where 1/8 of the population lives. The further one goes to the structurally weak south of the 7107 islands, the poorer the population becomes.While in the capital modern industry 4.0 start-ups are springing up from the ground, in the countryside the fields are still cultivated with animals as if this were the 19th century.[…]Since a cargo of Shabu with a market value of 124 million dollars and a weight of 600kg was found and witness Mark Taguba and Senator Antonio Trillanes accused Duterte’s son Paolo and his brother-in-law of being involved in drug trafficking, rumors have been spreading that Duterte Clan himself is involved in drug trafficking as the leading figures in the Davao Group. The city of Davao is the stronghold of the Duterte Clan. Duterte was mayor here for 23 years, now it is his daughter Inday Sara who could continue the political style of Dutertismo as the next president. In this respect, it is not far-fetched that the war could also be an instrument to eliminate competitors in the drug business and monopolize trade. The son allegedly owns a dragon tattoo of a Chinese mafia group that dominates the market together with Mexican cartels. The head of customs, Nicanor Faeldon, who had to resign in the course of the scandal, later became a senior civil defense officer.[…]From his college professor, the founder of the Communist Party Jose Maria Sison, Duterte inherited his anti-imperialism and anti-Americanism, and at first, it seemed as if he was forming a coalition with the Communist Party (CPP), calling himself „leftist“ in negotiations and the Maoist CPP „revolutionary government“. This was an implicit recognition of their aspirations to rule a territory, maintain an army, collect „revolutionary“ taxes, and enact their own laws. With Sisons, who lives in exile in the Netherlands, he negotiated via Skype over land reforms, the development of local industries away from „imperial Manila,“ the release of political prisoners, and government posts in the welfare state for the CPP. However, this changed rapidly after the peace process with the NPA, the armed arm of the CPP, failed and he officially classified both organizations after attacks as terrorist groups.[…]The objective signs for authoritarianism of the left-right populist Dutertismo can be identified as the following: Power positions are occupied by a narrow circle of confidants, loyalists, and family members, a political movement is created, like the youth movement Kilusang Pagbago, and a special gestural greeting is established – a fist stretched out to the front -, constitutional amendments are used to expand power, and security services (police and military) are made subservient by higher salaries and security guarantees.[…]Duterte had the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos buried in the hero cemetery with all military honors and maintains good relations with his descendants. The election campaign was determined by the narrative of solving the crisis of crime, drug epidemics, and corruption with a strong hand, „cleaning“ the country: „it is blood that we need to cleanse and rinse away the dirt and the muck that stick to the flesh like leeches.“ (Duterte) The jargon is fascist and the logic of dichotomizing into the good people and the evil criminals follows the friend-enemy scheme of the Nazi public lawyer Carl Schmitt. Humans are evil by nature and need domination, but this can only be achieved by opening a front between two groups, which in turn exerts unifying forces. Exclusion leads to inclusion. The narrative got caught up, because especially in the poor neighborhoods drug-driven procurement crime is virulent, people felt left alone with their problems. The dichotomous good-evil scheme is thus instrumentalized for the consolidation of authoritarian rule. Senators and politicians who oppose the human rights violations and investigate against Duterte appear on so-called narco lists which accuse them of participating in drug trafficking in the corrupt archipelago and are charged by means of dubious trials and removed from office, or even imprisoned. Lawyers, such as the NUPL, who are engaged pro bono in human rights cases, are murdered. 38 of them have fallen victim to assassinations since Duterte took office. Duterte repeatedly called for the slaying of lawyers and bishops because the Catholic Church constantly criticized him: “These bishops, kill them. They are useless, all they do is criticize” (Duterte) A taboo break, in a strictly catholic country, where even divorce is forbidden and the church has so far supported or overthrown the rule of every president. Nevertheless, he seems to have succumbed to the Christian values of Filipino society with regard to same-sex marriage, which he occasionally wants to legalize. In this complex of themes, he jumps erratically between the positions. Although even some of Dutertes‘ statements can be considered homophobic, he sharply criticized the boxer Many Pacquiao for his homophobic faux pas. Several times he claimed his wife or beautiful women had „cured“ (Duterte) him of his homosexuality. Here an unconscious conflict manifests itself, the analysis of which could be helpful in the context of his iron hand politics. However, this has not harmed his popularity. The Philippines love their “Rambo” Duterte. In 2019, the government published a list of critical journalists and lawyers who are supposed to plan a coup, like former dictator Marcos. Framing takes place through identification as alleged communists, westernized liberals, or foreign agents. The ruling is based on lists. Critical journalists are intimidated by dubious trials (Cf. the cases Rappler/Maria Ressa, Inquirer and ABS-CBN) and the separation of the three powers is suspended by loyalists in the Supreme Court. His Schmittian sovereignty, not >Checks and Balances<, decides the state of emergency. To avoid condemnation for human rights violations in the war on drugs, the Philippines left the International Criminal Court in March 2018 by order of Duterte. „I told the military, what is my fault?[…]My only sin is the extrajudicial killings.“ (Duterte)The police have been given a quota, and they’re acting on lists. Even a false accusation can mean death, but opposition politicians and other critics of the government are frequently on this register. Policemen shall receive 161-302 dollars (8000-15,000 pesos) per murder. An arrest means they get nothing. Death squads who relieve the police of their dirty work receive 100 dollars (5,000 pesos) for each drug user killed and 200-300 dollars (10,000-15,000 pesos) for each drug dealer. Thus a police-industrial-killing-complex emerges that creates economic incentives in a poor country to forge or plant evidence. The abolition of individual rights results in lynch justice. Already as mayor of Davao, Duterte is said to have been responsible for death squads and the murder of 1420 people.[…]His predecessor Benigno Aquino (Friedrich Naumann Foundation) led a government that failed to solve the murders of at least 140 human rights activists and 20 journalists. The difference with the previous governments is that human rights and ideals are now openly attacked rather than covertly undermined.[…]Considering his sadomasochistic character structure, Duterte is a fascist leader who pseudo-conservatively pretends to preserve values (Law and Order, social cohesion, the future of youth, etc.), which he undermines in the same breath. With Leo Löwenthal he can be analysed as a false prophet (cf. Löwenthal – Prophets of Deceit). Instead of confronting the complex situation of oligarchization and economic polarization with systemic analyses and differentiated ideas, the agitator divides the world into a struggle between two fronts that are typically personalized. An objective argumentation and impersonal discourse would only intensify the feelings of despair, isolation, and distrust that people suffer from. The disillusionment of the population is twisted into the defection of humanitarian, universal ideals. The fight for law and order is paradoxically waged against the pesky law: the principle of „in dubio pro reo“ no longer applies. The solution to social problems is sought in the annihilation of a group of people and the regime of the hard hand. The objects of this hatred are dehumanized by being called insects worth destroying. At an election campaign event in Bohol, a cockroach ran over his T-shirt, which he identified as „a liberal“. He compared drug addicts with Jews in the Third Reich, while the resentments they are facing – laziness, crime, recklessness, disloyalty, impudence, begging, and theft – are structurally antiziganistic: “Hitler massacred three million Jews … there are three million drug addicts. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them.” (Duterte) The false prophet plays with vague fears and the expectations of radical change, providing simple patterns of solutions that do not reach the core of the problem but usually only combat its symptoms. After Löwenthal, the agitator takes debates on serious issues as an opportunity to lament passionately or to indulge in personal insults. For his part, Duterte describes human rights activists, critics, and foreign politicians, such as Obama, as sons of bitches and therefore approaches his followers not from the outside, but as someone from among them. In response to criticism of the planned reintroduction of the death penalty by the EU, he addressed: „You madmen, you sons of bitches! Stop interfering with us! I would be happy to hang you! If it were up to me, I would hang you all!“ In this way, he constructs a condition for identification, he acts as a folk-oriented representative who does not belong to the elite, although he himself is part of a racket-like political family. This is a calculating tactic in the process of binding the masses to the leader. Machismo, sexism, violence, the desire for social order, and the belief in the need to discipline citizens are deeply rooted in Filipino consciousness. According to Löwenthal, a false prophet is simultaneously a simple man and a sacred leader, the head of a family and above all material needs, a helpless victim of oppositional persecution and a feared avenger. Duterte represents this ego ideal „in a particularly sharp and pure form[…] and [embodies] the impression of greater power and libidinous freedom“ (Freud – Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego). The false prophet unconsciously seduces his followers into complicity. The guided regress in the mass bond to an affective stage of the self in which independent thinking is still weak. He appeals to deeper, libidinous, and destructive impulses and thus manages to hypnotize the mass. He uses the anti-civilizing aggression and the need for submission, which the violent drive suppression in the process of socialization to the sadomasochistic weakness of the ego currently involves, and channels the resulting destructive drive and the dissatisfaction with the current social structure as well as with criminality to an object, whose annihilation can supposedly solve social crises. This process is always reciprocal. The escalating crime, corruption, and powerless submission to this malaise is the condition and result of the search for a strong hand. The narcissistic wound is concealed by identification, in the search for external support and security. The education to cleanliness in early childhood is usually a painful process that leaves stressful traces in the unconscious. By associating the criminal with filth, these feelings are reactivated and the old hatred is unleashed on those who have not disciplined themselves as strictly. He must be cleansed of society, as it has appeared above. The agitator proposes himself as the leader of the counter-movement, offering simple solutions in a complex world where the individual is powerless. The purpose of this manipulation is to modify behavior so that ultimately the leader takes the place of the thus externalized super-ego – the conscience: „That’s our deal. When I said that you go and destroy the drug industry, destroying means destroying, including human life[…]I will take care of you.“ (Duterte) Police and justice do not have to adhere to rights, since Duterte is the law and the moral, the people identify themselves reciprocally to the mass through their new ego ideal: „Conscience does not apply to all things that happen in favor of the object; in the blindness of love one becomes a criminal unrepentantly. The whole situation can be completely summarized in one formula: The object has taken the place of the ego ideal.“ (Freud – Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego) The accumulated aggressions – reaction to the social malaise – can be lived out under his rule while intoxicated by the power of the masses. Duterte is a false prophet because he does not address the causes, does not analyze the social structure and social order in-depth, but releases people as a solution to annihilation: „You know, my victims, I would like to be [kill(?)] all criminals to finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition“ (Duterte).The war on drugs camouflages social polarisation, the wealth of a small upper class, and the widespread poverty of the majority, which could only be changed by new socio-economic policies. The oligarchs are countered with his own oligarchy. The Duterte regime is represented by the faction of political elites allied with the Marcoses and Arroyos, by his own family, and by the state institutions of police and military. The police eliminate the symptoms of failed economic development: drug use and crime in response to poverty. Instead of putting out the fire that makes the pot boil over, a lid is put on the problem. His agitation is similar to populists from other world climes: his vulgar rhetoric, the construction of a group of own and others, the delegitimization of the critical press, the rejection of foreign criticism in the internal affairs of one’s own nation, the criticism of the elite and establishment, of which one is often a part, the criticism of liberalism and human rights, the assertion that one is the only legitimate voice of the „people“ as well as the proclamation of one’s own strong hand, which would reinstate law and order. The new rebellion is reactionary, since the identity-political „progressives“ and traditional leftists worldwide do not find answers to the questions of the 21st century, dust in their own way, and aggressively moralize in circles. Nevertheless, in many other countries, it would not have been possible to pursue a realpolitik of this magnitude. The Philippine opposition must now reappraisal the past, which is already rudimentarily contained in this essay:
What conditions survived the fall of Marcos, which made Duterte possible – socially, legally, mentally, party-politically? How to implement „Erziehung zur Mündigkeit“ (T. W. Adorno) in the Philippines, after which the subjects seek external support and security not in an authoritarian leader but in their own actions?“ (Laemmergeier 2019)
Small excerpt on authoritarian character from a presentation given in the fall of 2019 (to be expanded). I have improved the analysis of Duterte with Löwenthal at that time.
“Es ist nicht leicht zu verstehen, wie man es möglich macht, einem Trieb die Befriedigung zu entziehen. Es ist gar nicht so ungefährlich; wenn man es nicht ökonomisch kompensiert, kann man sich auf ernste Störungen gefaßt machen.”
(Sigmund Freud – Das Unbehagen in der Kultur)
„Das Individuum kann die eigene soziale Anpassung nur vollbringen, wenn es an Gehorsam und Unterordnung Gefallen findet; die sadomasochistische Triebstruktur ist daher beides, Bedingung und Resultat gesellschaftlicher Anpassung.“
(T. W. Adorno – Studien zum autoritären Charakter, S. 323)
„Ambivalenz, z.B. gegenüber den Eltern, wird von den stark ethnozentrischen Personen nicht ins Bewußtsein gelassen, sondern wird durch das Denken in Dichotomien und durch Verschiebung auf Fremdgruppen gelöst. Die Ambivalenz der schwach ethnozentrischen Personen wird öfter gegenüber den ursprünglichen Gegenständen (z.B. Eltern) oder realen Stellvertretern der ursprünglichen Gegenstände (z.B. echte Autorität) geäußert.“
(Frenkel-Brunswik 1996, S. 164)
-> After Frenkel-Brunswik, it is completely rational to sue my parents. This proves that I do not have an authoritarian character.
„Die Feststellung zum Beispiel, daß der Antisemit die Juden ablehnt, weil sie die herkömmlichen Moralgesetze mißachteten, versuchten wir damit zu interpretieren, daß er konventionellen Werten besonders nachdrücklich und starr verhaftet war, daß sein Antisemitismus auf dieser allgemeinen Charakterdisposition basierte, die sich zugleich auch auf anderem Wege, in der allgemeinen Tendenz offenbarte, auf die angeblichen Übertreter der traditionellen Normen herabzusehen und sie zu bestrafen.“
(T. W. Adorno – Studien zum autoritären Charakter, S. 44)
„Sehet euch vor vor den falschen Propheten, die in Schafskleidern zu euch kommen! Inwendig aber sind sie reißende Wölfe.“
(Jesus in Matthäus 7:15)
„Welcher Art sind nun die sozialen und psychologischen Implikationen eines solchen Materials?“ Leo Löwenthal – S. 17
The agitator amplifies irrational elements of social indictments (economic, political, cultural, moral), primarily exaggerated emotions:
„Diese Gefühle können weder als willkürlich noch als gekünstelt ignoriert werden, sie sind grundlegend für die moderne Gesellschaft. Mißstrauen, Abhängigkeit, Außgeschlossensein und Enttäuschung vermischen sich zu einem Grundzustand des modernen Lebens: der Malaise, des Unbehagens.“ (Löwenthal, S. 29 → Malaise ~ Unbehagen in der Kutur)
„Diese Malaise ist ein Spiegel jener strukturellen Belastungen, denen der einzelne in einer Periode tiefgehender Veränderungen in der Wirtschafts- und Sozialstruktur ausgesetzt ist: der Ablösung einer Schicht kleiner unabhängiger Produzenten durch gigantische Konzernbürokratien, dem Zerfall der patriarchalischen Familienstruktur, dem Auflösungsprozeß persönlicher Bindungen in einer zunehmenden mechanisierten Welt, der Spezialisierung und Atomisierung des gesellschaftlichen Lebens und der Ablösung traditioneller Muster durch Massenkultur.“ S. 30 → Influence of the studies on authority and family
„Wann immer er nach >etwas< fragt, bezieht sich seine Antwort auf ein >wer<“ Löwenthal, S. 25 → „Substitution eines persönlichen Feindes für eine objektive soziale Ursache.“ S. 29
→ „Es ist immer möglich, eine größere Menge von Menschen in Liebe aneinander zu binden, wenn nur andere für die Äußerung der Aggression übrigbleiben.“ Freud – Das Unbehagen in der Kultur
Followers of the Prophet:
Men of higher age groups, discontented women, rowdies, misfits, notoriously unemployed (Cf. Löwenthal, p. 149) = „>lunatic fringe<“ (Löwenthal, p. 149) < = „Basket of deplorables“ (Hillary Clinton) or „Dutertards“
Authoritarian characters defined according to the F-scale:
„In Krisenzeiten verwischt sich die Grenze zwischen Arbeitsunfähigen und Arbeitslosen, die Mittelschicht verliert ihre Sicherheit und die Jugend ihr Vertrauen in die Zukunft. Die Aussicht auf eine zukünftige Situation, in der Massen von Menschen für seine psychologischen Manipulationen empfänglich sein könnten, gibt dem Agitator genügend Antrieb, seine Aktivitäten als Führer seiner Legion von Unzufriedenen und sozialen Randgruppen fortzusetzen.“ (Löwenthal, S. 149)
„Hitler hat drei Millionen Juden massakriert – Hier sind drei Millionen Drogenabhängige. Ich würde sie gerne umbringen.“ (Duterte)
„[E]s ist Blut, das wir reinigen und abspülen müssen, den Schmutz und den Dreck, der wie Blutegel am Fleisch klebt.“ (Duterte)
→ „Die Tiraden des Agitators gegen das Ungeziefer geben ihm Gelegenheit, die Befriedigung seiner sadistischen Triebe zu rationalisieren. Die Geste, mit der er das Ungeziefer ausrottet, und die Mischung von Angewidertsein und Lustgewinn, die er aus diesem Akt ableitet, stehen stellvertretend und vorbereitend zugleich für die Ausrottung handgreiflicher Feinde.“ Löwenthal, S. 67
„Das Gewissen findet keine Anwendung auf alles, was zugunsten des Objektes geschieht; in der Liebesverblendung wird man reuelos zum Verbrecher. Die ganze Situation läßt sich restlos in eine Formel zusammenfassen: Das Objekt hat sich an die Stelle des Ichideals gesetzt.“ (Freud – Massenpsychologie und Ich-Analyse)
→ „Das ist unser Deal. Als ich sagte, dass ihr die Drogenindustrie zerstören sollt, zerstören heißt zerstören, einschließlich des menschlichen Lebens[….]Ich werde mich um euch [Polizei] kümmern.“ (Duterte)
→ „Ich habe dem Militär gesagt, was ist meine Schuld?… Meine einzige Sünde sind die außergerichtlichen Tötungen.“ (Duterte)
→ „Ich möchte, dass alle Kriminellen meine Opfer sind, um das Problem meines Landes zu beenden und um die nächste Generation zu retten.“ (Duterte)
„Der Agitator geht seine Zuhörer nicht von außen her an; vielmehr gibt er sich wie jemand aus ihrer Mitte, der ihre innersten Gedanken formuliert. Er rührt das auf und drückt das in Worten aus, was in ihnen schlummert“ Leo Löwenthal – S. 18 – Duterte achieves this, among other things, by means of his vulgar jargon:
→ „Nur weil du ein Journalist bist, bist du von Attentaten nicht ausgenommen, wenn du ein Hurensohn bist“ (Duterte)
→ „Aber eure Bischöfe, tötet sie. Sie sind nutzlos, sie sind Dummköpfe. Sie kritisieren nur herum.“ (Duterte)
→ „Wir werden euch [weibliche Rebellen] nicht töten. Wir werden euch nur in die Vagina schießen.[…] Ohne die sind sie nutzlos“ (Duterte)
→ „Ihr [EU] Verrückten, ihr Hurensöhne! Hört auf damit, euch bei uns einzumischen! Ich wäre glücklich, euch aufhängen zu können! Wenn es nach mir ginge, würde ich euch alle aufhängen!“ (Duterte)
Leo Löwenthal – False Prophets: Kapitel III Eine feindliche Welt, Thema 5: Die Scharade vom Untergang: apocalyptic fantasies of the eco-movement:
„Indem er sich mit der Angst der Massen vor einem drohenden Chaos identifiziert, gelingt es dem Agitator, sich als Revolutionär zu geben, der keinen Kuhhandel um bloß fragmentarische Reformen treibt; aber damit lenkt er seine Anhänger weit ab von einer Vorstellung, wie etwa soziale Reorganisation von Grund auf durchgeführt werden könnte.[…]Konfrontiert mit einem solchen unvermeidlichen Schicksal, können die Zuschauer sich nur völlig ohnmächtig fühlen.[…]Indem das Netz der Furcht somit endlos ausgedehnt wird, wird die ursprüngliche Angst verwässert und ihrer berechtigten Dringlichkeit beraubt. Sie wird zu einer Art Fantasiewelt – d.h., Angst wird in eine morbide, nihilistische Erwartung der totalen Vernichtung – wenn nicht gar Hoffnung darauf – verwandelt.[…]Da bleibt nichts anderes übrig, als einer >>Elite<< die Gefolgschaft zu kündigen, die mit diesem Zustand der Welt offenbar im Einverständnis lebt, und sich dem Agitator als Führer anzuvertrauen, der die Dinge beim Namen nennt.“ Leo Löwenthal, S. 48 – 50
→ „Die Erwachsenen sagen immer, wir müssen den jungen Menschen Hoffnung machen, aber ich will eure Hoffnung nicht. Ich möchte nicht, dass ihr hoffnungsvoll seid. Ich möchte, dass ihr in Panik geratet. Ihr sollt die Angst spüren, die ich jeden Tag spüre. Und ich möchte, dass ihr handelt. Dass ihr so handelt wie in einer Krise. Ich möchte, dass ihr so handelt, als wenn unser Haus brennen würde. Denn es brennt bereits.“ (Thunberg)
→ Exploitation of destructive drive energies for eco-fascist propaganda as well as profit maximization: Cf. investor Rentzhog.
According to government figures, the so-called war on drugs has claimed 6,600 lives. According to the UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, the number reached 27,000 dead in mid-2019:
It is clear that the new issues I raise in the context of Duterte (2021), the Philippines, and the oligarchy will totally change the old analysis (2019) that followed.
Message to Mr. Sison:
In order to come to power, you not only educated Duterte at the university in the spirit of Maoism but after this, you intended to form a coalition with him. What is absurd, Mr. Sison is that you call yourself a communist and want to have the „Lumpenproletariat“ (Cf. Support of the NPA for War on Drugs) shot. You are not a communist. You are a fascist.
The future we live in looks like that all classes will decay into rackets and therefore become the lumpenproletariat. The result is the molecular civil war in the sense of Hans Magnus Enzensberger. That is why people who call themselves communists cooperate with fascists, while people who think they represent the liberal constitutional state and the free market economy prohibit drugs in order to partly finance proxies (Cf. statistical prove above).
I would therefore recommend that you enjoy (I did while having Covid: thanks, bra) Alfred Mc Coy’s life’s work and read the Dialectic of Enlightenment directly afterward, because: „only the hyperbole is true“ (Adorno/Horkheimer, Dialektik der Aufklärung, S. 142, Translated: Michel)