FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Getting High in the Green Zone?

 

As some readers might know, I grew up as a military brat. When I was a teenager in Frankfurt am Main, West Germany, I spent some time getting high on good hashish with friends of mine who happened to be in the service. On occasion, we would be getting high in the barracks when the word would come that agents from the Army’s Criminal Intelligence Division (CID) were conducting a drug raid. This word was usually spread by an observant GI who saw the jeeps drive up and would then go running down the halls shouting “Pigs in the lot.” Since these raids were quite thorough and included searches of lockers, beds, and clothing, this alarm was usually followed by toilets flushing and lots of hash and other mood modifiers flying out the barracks windows. The drug use was so rampant in the service at the time that Rhein Main airport-the departure point for millions of servicemen and their dependents-had trash cans in the bathrooms where one could anonymously get rid of any drugs they might have on them before they went through customs to board their plane “back to the world.”

So, it was with those memories that I read a recent press release about increased drug testing of service men and women serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. According to the release, there are now even more random drug tests of soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The release mentions that since there has been an increase in opium production in Afghanistan, most of the drug testing would occur among GIs stationed there. According to Mary Beth Long, the Defense Department’s (DoD) deputy assistant defense secretary for counternarcotics, “One of the lessons that we have learned from the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (in the late 1970s through the late 1980s) is that those troops went back to Russia with a drug problem.”

Long went on to say that “(US) forces are obviously very, very different. We certainly have no expectation that they would suffer the same kind of issues.” How US forces (or why) they are different, Long did not say. Nor did she acknowledge the history of drug use and abuse among service members in Vietnam during that conflict. Indeed, even since then the military has waged an ongoing battle against its members over non-approved drug use. This battle, along with the nature of recruiting, has certainly diminished detectable drug use in the military dramatically, yet it is important to remember that, until the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, there have not been large numbers of regular soldiers serving in countries where drug cultivation and production is rampant. Now that the US military is in Afghanistan and Iraq, that is no longer the case.

Afghanistan is once again one of the world’s largest producers of opium and will probably remain so for a while. This factor alone increases the likelihood of GI narcotics use. Adding to the easy availability of opium products is the increased stress of combat and life in a foreign culture. This is a combination that causes humans to look for an escape. Since there is no local alcohol (and troops are discouraged from drinking anyhow), the prospect of an opium high could start looking pretty good to those soldiers so inclined. In addition, Afghanistan produces some of the world’s best hashish. One can only wonder how long it will be before foreign soldiers discover this fact.

High Times magazine ran a piece by freelancer David Enders earlier this year that detailed the easy availability of marijuana in Iraq after the US invasion. “There are few laws in Iraq right now,” wrote Enders, “so although drug possession was punishable by death before, you can now pass a spliff openly in front of the cops.” One wonders if some of those being court-martialed for prisoner abuse might have been a little too stoned on the herb to realize what the repercussions of the photos they took and shared with the world might be. Maybe they thought they were in a stoned-out scene from the Oliver Stone flick, Natural Born Killers or the protagonist of some gangsta-rap tune.

It would be interesting to speculate how much of the Afghani opium is being bankrolled by the CIA and other US intelligence organizations to fund their black-ops and other skullduggery. Unfortunately, this type of information usually does not become public until after the damage is done. Alfred McCoy’s incredibly detailed study of the politics of heroin in Southeast Asia (The Politics of Heroin) provides some useful hints at how intelligence agencies use drug money to fund their counterinsurgency operations, as does Doug Valentine’s 2004 book, The Strength of the Wolf. Both tell the story of a world where murder and deceit are the modus operandi and where a small coterie of individuals determines the fate of millions. A side note to the CIA involvement is the presence of the Israeli Mossad in these operations. Once again, one can only speculate as to the extent of their involvement in any current drug production and running operations underway in today’s situation.

The use (and abuse) of intoxicants is part of the human condition. One need only watch US television to see how much our society depends on the use of chemicals to enhance or, in some cases, diminish our daily experience. Soldiers are no different. Indeed, rumors continue to pop up on various websites and in conversations with military members of pilots and others being given amphetamine-like drugs to help them stay awake during the 24 hour bombing runs on Afghanistan and Iraq during the early periods of the US military operations there. For those GIs who haven’t found a religion to provide solace yet find themselves needing something to get away from their predicament as these wars drag on, the opium and hash all around them may start looking pretty inviting, the stockade/brig be damned.

RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. He can be reached at: rjacobs@zoo.uvm.edu

 

 

More articles by:

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

December 13, 2018
John Davis
What World Do We Seek?
Subhankar Banerjee
Biological Annihilation: a Planet in Loss Mode
Lawrence Davidson
What the Attack on Marc Lamont Hill Tells Us
James McEnteer
Breathless
Ramzy Baroud
The Real Face of Justin Trudeau: Are Palestinians Canada’s new Jews?
Dean Baker
Pelosi Would Sabotage the Progressive Agenda With a Pay-Go Rule
Elliot Sperber
Understanding the Yellow Vests Movement Through Basic Color Theory 
Rivera Sun
The End of the NRA? Business Magazines Tell Activists: The Strategy is Working
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Historic Opportunity to Transform Trade
December 12, 2018
Arshad Khan
War, Anniversaries and Lessons Never Learned
Paul Street
Blacking Out the Yellow Vests on Cable News: Corporate Media Doing its Job
Kenneth Surin
The Brexit Shambles Rambles On
David Schultz
Stacking the Deck Against Democracy in Wisconsin
Steve Early
The Housing Affordability Crisis and What Millennials Can do About It
George Ochenski
Collaboration Failure: Trump Trashes Sage Grouse Protections
Rob Seimetz
Bringing a Life Into a Dying World: A Letter From a Father to His Unborn Son
Michael Howard
PETA and the ‘S’-Word
John Kendall Hawkins
Good Panopt, Bad Panopt: Does It Make A Difference?
Kim C. Domenico
Redeeming Utopia: a Meditation On An Essay by Ursula LeGuin
Binoy Kampmark
Exhuming Franco: Spain’s Immemorial Divisions
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Democratizing Money
Laura Finley
Congress Must Reauthorize VAWA
December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail