NATO's Drug Escapades As Seen in the Wake of the Chicago Summit
Elena PONOMAREVA | 26.05.2012 | WORLD

NATO's Drug Escapades As Seen in the Wake of the Chicago Summit

The NATO summit held in Chicago on May 20-21 featured an extensive program, the list of issues touched upon including European missile defense, the Open Door policy, and the alliance's efforts to strengthen its network of partnerships worldwide. Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Mongolia took part in the forum, and even though the current NATO candidates – Georgia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina - were not issued the desired entry tickets, no doubt was left that the global march of the alliance would proceed at an accelerated pace. Importantly, the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan were – for the first time ever – on the invitations list. In Putin's footsteps, neither chose to show up, but the foreign ministers of the Central Asian republics attended the summit. 

Outrageously, the NATO summit lengthily discussed the state of relations between Russia and Georgia or, in the terms of the declaration that eventually materialized, “the build-up of Russia’s military presence on Georgia’s territory”. “Georgia’s territory” was the NATO form of reference to the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia - as on a countless number of previous occasions, US Secretary of State H. Clinton urged Russia to revoke the recognition of the independence of the two republics when she spoke at a meeting of the NATO countries' diplomacy chiefs. 

Predictably, the focal point of the recent NATO forum was the alliance's strategy in Afghanistan. In fact, the theme overshadowed everything else to the point of causing watchers to describe the whole convention as an Afghan summit. It must be taken into account in the context that the complexity of the task of pulling the NATO forces out of the country is not necessarily the main reason behind the current centrality of Afghanistan to the agenda of the alliance.

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The summit, it should be noted, upheld a cautious approach to the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Somewhat earlier, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen spelled out the position in a deliberately unclear manner when he said that the alliance would continue to contribute to the security of the Central Asian republic by training the Afghan security forces. The NATO countries subscribed to a plan to pour $4.1b annually into the 228,000-strong Afghan Army over the coming decade or longer, with a third of the funds coming from the US. There has to be a serious explanation behind the generosity, especially considering that the military budgets of the NATO members are slimming no matter how the process upsets Washington, and the spotlight steadily shifts towards efficiency and combination of resources. Rasmussen emphasized austerity in his budgetary comments, diplomatically noting that an improved cooperation culture should enable the alliance countries to jointly have what they cannot afford individually, which again read as an admission that the alliance's finances are running low - but saving on Afghanistan still seems to be out of question. 

The statements churned out by Washington that the US military presence in Afghanistan will continue past the 2014 deadline for the withdrawal of the 132,000 coalition servicemen from the country further reinforce the impression that the Afghan part of the NATO agenda far exceeds in importance the majority of other issues. For example, residual US military presence was a part of the package when the fresh strategic partnership deal was penned by Washington and Kabul. The same question arises in this connection – what actually is the point?

The truth is that the game played out in Afghanistan revolves around more than just geopolitical or any legitimate economic interests. Its economic dimension involves a purely criminal component related to the drug business and to oil. Peter Dale Scott wrote in his “Drugs, Oil, and War: The United States in Afghanistan, Colombia, and Indochina”: “Drug networks are important factors in the politics of every continent. The United States returns repeatedly to the posture of fighting wars in areas of petroleum reserves with the aid of drug-trafficking allies - drug proxies - with which it has a penchant to become involved”. Being drawn into various conflicts, Washington gradually starts to pursue the interests of the drug proxies it originally hoped to cynically use. 

A situation similar to the one found in Afghanistan is materializing in Columbia where the US is nominally waging a war against the drug mafia. The reality is that the main groups of drug dealers in the country are the militant groups which act as partners of the government forces, that is, of Washington’s allies. Moreover, the groups in Columbia are descendants of the CIA-created terrorist formations originally invented to fight the local left. In other words, in Columbia and Afghanistan, Washington is currently fighting against the forces it unleashed. It is a straightforward guess that the scenario for the foreseeable future in Kosovo, another place where drugs and terrorism are interwoven with politics, is going to be absolutely the same.

The situation in Columbia mirrors that of Afghanistan, the country across which the US-based UNOCAL planned to construct a pipeline back in 1998. Fighting against Bin Laden and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, the US had to secure the support from the Northern Alliance, which is known to be heavily involved with the drug business. Trying to beat Bin Laden, NATO and its henchmen from the Northern Alliance which encouraged poppy farmers crashed the Taliban which in 2000 imposed a ban on poppy cropping on the territories under its control.

Interestingly, P. Scott maintains that a ban on poppy cropping and dealing in Afghanistan, if observed, would have translated into drug output surge elsewhere in the region, for example in Tajikistan or Kyrgyzstan. As a side effect, the republics, neither of which can be regarded as stable even at present, would have sunk into deep political chaos.

The above ideas were expressed in 2003, and, sadly, the book by diplomat and Berkley professor P. Scott was translated into Russian only nine years later. The writings by P. Scott - and also by D. Ganser - vividly expose NATO as a drug-trafficking and terrorist organization in the guise of an alliance of peacekeepers. The views found therein apply entirely to the world of today. The fact that the four Central Asian republics were invited to the NATO summit in Chicago fits with the wider strategy of creating drug trade zones in the proximity of energy transit routes and of allowing the drug mafia to handle the political situations in the respective regions. The key drug-trafficking roots which start from Afghanistan traverse Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, further stretching to Russia.

Speaking of what NATO is doing these days, one should keep in mind that partnering mafia groups has been a part of its intelligence practice since the end of World War II. In a case that became common knowledge, the CIA worked with Vito "Don Vito" Genovese, an Italian mafia tycoon, to achieve its goals in Italy. When Don Vito's mission was complete, he ended up in jail over drug dealing and died there of heart attack in 1969. Other US and NATO allies with interests in the drug business – Bin Laden and Ahmed Wali Karzai – were used and disposed of similarly, and the same will likely happen to Kosovo drug lords Hashim Thaci and Ramush Haradinaj. The former is already implicated in the famous report by Dick Marty and the latter is to stand retrial in the Hague.

As for NATO complicity in terrorism and in breeding terrorist groups worldwide, the alliance must be credited with having unsurpassed experience in the sphere. Swiss researcher D. Ganser supplied evidence in “NATO’s Secret Armies. Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe” that the first secret armies supposed to engage in terrorist activities were formed and took to action in West Europe immediately following World War II. On admission to NATO, European leaders had to sign secret protocols obliging their governments to guarantee the countries' pro-Western orientation by any means and regardless of the preferences of the electorate. The plot, known as Operation Gladio, used to be among the US top secrets but was eventually unearthed by a group of researchers and journalists. 

The drug factor which can be discerned in the motivation behind NATO interventions is typically coupled to the oil one. The deal signed by the US and Saudi Arabia after World War II [1] gave the US a leading role in the global oil industry and trade. Since the unveiling of the Truman Doctrine, the US geopolitics is being built on oil. Originally intended as a policy aimed at containing the Soviet Union, the US designs evolved into an attempt to get a grip on the oil resources of the whole world. In the process, the hunt for oil crippled the US economy, making US companies increasingly dependent on the military budget which helped pop US interventions in remote parts of the world which nevertheless evaded Washington's control. The developments around Afghanistan fully exemplify the trend – growing ever more militant, the US has no option but to rely increasingly on its allies from the ranks of the drug business players.

The exceptional place of the drug business in world politics since the epoch of the XIX century opium wars is due to several reasons. First, drug trafficking has a quick destabilizing impact on countries or even regions such as the Golden Triangle comprising Burma, Laos, and Thailand or the Golden Crescent, a bracket term for Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. Secondly, national political elites in the countries overrun by drug business tend to be vulnerable to blackmail. Thirdly, populations with widespread drug dependencies grow easy to control. Fourthly, the announced task of fighting the drug business serves to justify the US military and political presence in quite a few countries. The last but not the least, the drug business is a major source of revenue. 

The latter point deserves particular attention. According to the 2011 World Drug Report, “The global opiate market was valued at US$68 billion in 2009, with heroin consumers contributing US$61 billion of this. Heroin prices vary greatly. Although prices in Afghanistan increased in 2010, one gram costs less than US$4. In West and Central Europe, users pay some US$40-100 per gram, in the United States and northern Europe, US$170-200, and in Australia, the price is as high as US$230–370. While Afghan farmers only earned some US$440 million in 2010, organized crime groups in the main countries of consumption reap the largest profits.” It is probably true that the list of main earners should include the forces which patronized the supply chain. Given the rising drug output in Afghanistan (133% in 2011, as the UN data indicate), the country whose share in the global total swelled to 90% over the period of the Western coalition's presence, the correlation between the international military presence and the drug business expansion seems impossible to deny. That should explain why the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan where American forces oversee the lucrative drug business of the Golden Crescent remains questionable. US consultants are there to run the smoothly operating drug supply system, the hundreds of drug-related deaths occurring annually not being NATO's problem. 

The drug activities of the US – and the US-led NATO – are tightly linked with the NATO expansion and the creation of US military bases in the protectorates established along the drug-trafficking and pipeline routes. The best example is the supervised state of Kosovo used by drug lords to relay narcotics from Afghanistan to Europe via the Balkan route [2]. The Albanian drug mafia's throughput is estimated at four to six tons of heroin of the Afghan origin monthly, the annual revenues being as high as $2b. According to the UN, Europe which is the key market for Afghan opiates absorbs up to 150 tons of heroin annually, with 35-50 tons going to Russia. The Albanian mafia is responsible for 75% of heroin supplies to West Europe and 50% - to the US. 

At the same time, Kosovo hosts major US military bases – Bondstill and Film City – which are sited in direct proximity of the South Stream and Nabucco pipeline routes. As a result, the drug state of Kosovo has a potential to pose a threat to the former and assist in implementing the latter.

Evidence of US and NATO complicity in drug business is plentiful. The books by P. Scott and D. Ganser should be of interest to anybody who is interested in this shadowy realm of parapolitics, where political goals are attained indirectly, with the help of conspiracies and deception. 

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The US never waged a war on drugs, but always fought the war in which drugs served as a weapon. As long as NATO continues to exist, drug cropping and trade will be booming around the world. Industrial-scale production of opiates was completely absent in Afghanistan prior to the advent of the international coalition in 2001. As for the Chicago summit, it has to be understood that the US and NATO will never in the full sense of the word leave Afghanistan. The alliance's response to the Eurasian Union is further NATO expansion, which will imminently present the world with ever more intense drug trafficking and a rise of terrorism. 

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1. The Quincy Agreements are a preliminary oil trade deal between the US and Saudi Arabia reached during the historical talks between D. Roosevelt and King Abdul-Aziz, the first monarch of Saudi Arabia, aboard USS Quincy on February 14, 1945

2. Five major drug trafficking channels – Albanian, Green, D, R, and North - exist as parts of the Balkan route. The Camilla cartel is believed to be the most powerful of Albanian drug groups and to be in the world's top five with over $500m in annual revenues. Some 30 Albanian clans supply drugs to Europe, every one of them operating its own segment of a drug-trafficking route.

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