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‘War on Drugs’ was a Sinister Conspiracy to Target Anti-War Protesters & Black People

 • EXPOSÉ long series “Dark Alliance,” published in 1996, exposed connections between the CIA and millions of dollars in cocaine sales that benefitted the Nicaraguan Contras in their 1980s war against the ruling leftist Sandinista government. Congress had quashed funding for the anti-Communist Contra fighters loved by Ronald Reagan and the right wing, so the CIA came up with the secret plan. They flew weapons down to Nicaragua, and the planes came back full of drugs that were distributed and sold in predominantly Black neighbourhoods. The proceeds funded the purchase of more weapons for the Contra insurgency. A recent article by award winning journalist Nick Schou revisited Gary Webb’s series: “‘Dark Alliance’ became one of the first viral news pieces of the Internet era. As with Watergate, the story led to furious denials from anonymous government sources – only this time The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post rallied strenuously to defend the feds. “All three papers published lengthy rebuttals to Webb’s stories, dismissing them as the work of an irresponsible journalist who bent the facts to fit his thesis, thus empowering conspiracy theorists, particularly in the African-American community, which long suspected the US government of complicity in the crack trade. Never mind that a subsequent report released by the CIA at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal admitted to much wider collaboration with agency-affiliated Contra-sympathising coke peddlers than Webb ever claimed.” In response to the film “Kill the Messenger” – which depicts the withering media attacks that forced Webb from journalism – The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times recently published stories acknowledging that, in hindsight, their attacks on Webb were overkill and that history vindicates his reporting. ‘America’s drug wars and its Black victims’ by Charlene Muhammad, The Final Call, 5 April 2016; ‘The decline of journalism from Watergate to “Dark Alliance”’ by Nick Schou, Al Jazeera, 25 October 2014 Col. Lawrence Wilkerson is tired of “the corporate interests that we go abroad to slay monsters for.” As the former chief of staff to US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Wilkerson played an important role in the George W. Bush administration. In the years since, however, the former Bush official has established himself as a prominent critic of US foreign policy. “I think Smedley Butler was onto something,” explained Lawrence Wilkerson, in an extended interview with Ben Norton for Salon. In his day, in the early 20th century, Butler was the highest ranked and most honoured official in the history of the US Marine Corps. He helped lead wars throughout the world over a series of decades, before later becoming a vociferous opponent of American imperialism, declaring “war is a racket.” Wilkerson spoke highly of Butler, referencing the late general’s famous quote: “Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.” “I think the problem that Smedley identified, quite eloquently actually,” Wilkerson said, “especially for a Marine – I had to say that as a soldier,” the retired Army colonel added with a laugh; “I think the problem is much deeper and more profound today, and much more subtle and sophisticated.” Today, the military-industrial complex “is much more pernicious than Eisenhower ever thought it would be,” Wilkerson warned. In his farewell address in 1961, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower famously cautioned Americans that the military and corporate interests were increasingly working together, contrary to the best interests of the citizenry. He called this phenomenon the military-industrial complex. As a case study of how the contemporary military-industrial complex works, Wilkerson pointed to leading weapons corporations like Lockheed Martin, and their work with draconian, repressive Westernallied regimes in the Gulf, or in inflaming tensions in Korea. “Was Bill Clinton’s expansion of NATO – after George H. W. Bush and [his Secretary of State] James Baker had assured Gorbachev and then Yeltsin that we wouldn’t go an inch further east – was this for Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon, and Boeing, and others, to increase their network of potential weapon sales?” Wilkerson asked. “You bet it was,” he answered. “Is there a penchant on behalf of the Congress to bless the use of force more often than not because of the constituencies they have and the money they get from the defense contractors?” Wilkerson continued. Again, he answered his own question: “You bet.” “It’s not like Dick Cheney or someone like that went and said let’s have a war because we want to make money for Halliburton, but it is a pernicious influence on decision-making,” the former Bush official explained. “And the fact that they donate so much money to congressional elections and to PACs and so forth is another pernicious influence.” Wilkerson – who in the same interview with Salon defended Edward Snowden, saying the whistle-blower performed an important service and did not endanger US national security – was also intensely critical of the growing movement to “privatise public functions, like prisons.” “I fault us Republicans for this majorly,” he confessed – although a good many prominent Democrats have also jumped on the neoliberal bandwagon. In a 2011 speech, for instance, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared, “It’s time for the United States to start thinking of Iraq as a business opportunity” for US corporations. Wilkerson lamented, “We’ve privatised the ultimate public function: war.” “In many respects it is now private interests that benefit most from our use of military force,” he continued. “Whether it’s private security contractors, that are still all over Iraq or Afghanistan, or it’s the biggerknown defense contractors, like the number one in the world, Lockheed Martin.” In another Salon interview with Ben Norton, journalist Antony Loewenstein detailed how the US privatised its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are an estimated 30,000 military contractors working for the Pentagon in Afghanistan today; they outnumber US troops three-to-one. Thousands more are in Iraq. “We dwarf the Russians or anyone else who sells weapons in the world,” the retired Army colonel continued. “We are the death merchant of the world.” SOURCES: ‘“We are the death merchant of the world”: Ex-Bush official Lawrence Wilkerson condemns military-industrial complex’ by Ben Norton, Salon, 29 March; ‘Profiting off of chaos: How the U.S. privatized its war in Afghanistan – Antony Loewenstein on “Disaster Capitalism”’ by Ben Norton, Salon, 16 Feb

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