Alfred W. McCoy: The Politics of Heroin


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade (Paperback)

by Alfred W. McCoy (Author)

Editorial Reviews
From Publishers Weekly

Nearly 20 years ago, McCoy wrote The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia , 
which stirred up considerable controversy, alleging that the CIA was intimately 
involved in the Vietnamese opium trade. In the current volume, a substantially 
updated and longer work, he argues that pk the situation basically hasn't 
changed over the past two decades; however the numbers have gotten bigger. McCoy
writes, "Although the drug pandemic of the 1980s had complex causes, the growth 
in global heroin supply could be traced in large part to two key aspects of U.S.
policy: the failure of the DEA's interdiction efforts and the CIA's covert 
operations." He readily admits that the CIA's role in the heroin trade was an 
"inadvertent" byproduct of "its cold war tactics," but he limns convincingly the
path by which the agency and its forebears helped Corsican and Sicilian mobsters
reestablish the heroin trade after WW II and, most recently, "transformed 
southern Asia from a self-contained opium zone into a major supplier of heroin."
Scrupulously documented, almost numbingly so at times, this is a valuable 
corrective to the misinformation being peddled by anti-drug zealots on both 
sides of the aisle. First serial to the Progressive.

Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of 
print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

It seems that the American government has learned nothing from its war on drugs.
In 1972, the CIA attempted to suppress McCoy's classic work, The Politics of 
Heroin in Southeast Asia ( LJ 11/15/72 ) , which charged CIA complicity in the 
narcotics trade as part of its cold war tactics. Now, this revised and expanded 
edition, incorporating 20 years of research, discusses in almost overwhelming 
detail how U.S. drug policies and actions in the Third World has created 
"America's heroin plague." McCoy notes that every attempt at interdiction has 
only resulted in the expansion of both the production and consumption of drugs. 
He also charges that 40 years of CIA protection of Asian drug traffickers and 
active participation in the transport of opium and heroin has undermined U.S. 
anti-drug efforts. A massive work that raises serious questions. For larger 
public and academic libraries.

- Wilda Williams, "Library Journal"

Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of 
print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

A greatly revised and expanded edition of McCoy's Politics of Heroin in 
Southeast Asia (1972--not reviewed). Though he devotes much of his narrative to 
a history of modern commerce in narcotics, rather than, as the subtitle 
indicates, CIA complicity in the drug trade, McCoy tells a fascinating story. He
shows that in the ``Golden Triangle'' of Laos, Thailand, and Burma, opium was 
big business and, often, the only viable form of currency. McCoy argues that, in
their efforts to expand their own power in Southeast Asia, American intelligence
agents permitted allies of the US (the Hmong tribe in Southeast Asia, for 
instance, which was vital to the CIA's secret war in Laos and which sold heroin 
to American GIs) to expand their lucrative drug trade. In the wake of the 
Vietnam War, McCoy contends, a similar relationship developed between American 
authorities and the contras of Central America. Drug-enforcement agencies sought
the arrest of drug merchants often associated with the contras, while the CIA, 
viewing the contras as indispensable ideological allies in the war against 
Communism, did their best to thwart the vaunted ``war on drugs.'' The author 
produces considerable disturbing evidence that US authorities are guilty at 
least of complicity in the global drug trade, and argues convincingly that the 
drug problem at home will not end until a fundamental change is made in American
policy. McCoy exposes basic hypocrisy in American policymaking, and demonstrates
that, as long as powerful government bureaucracies work at cross-purposes, 
America's drug problem will not be easily solved. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus 
Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or 
unavailable edition of this title.

The New York Times Book Review

"A fascinating, often meticulous unraveling of the byzantine complexities of the
Southeast Asia drug trade . . . a pioneering book."

Book Description

The first book to prove CIA and U.S. government complicity in global drug 
trafficking, The Politics of Heroin includes meticulous documentation of 
dishonesty and dirty dealings at the highest levels from the Cold War until 
today. Maintaining a global perspective, this groundbreaking study details the 
mechanics of drug trafficking in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South and 
Central America. New chapters detail U.S. involvement in the narcotics trade in 
Afghanistan and Pakistan before and after the fall of the Taliban, and how U.S. 
drug policy in Central America and Colombia has increased the global supply of 
illicit drugs.

About the Author

Alfred W. McCoy is a professor of history at the University of 
Wisconsin-Madison. He holds a doctorate in southeast Asian history from Yale 
University and is the recipient of the 2001 Goodman Prize from the Association 
for Asian Studies. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Escaping the Matrix website
cyberjournal website     
Community Democracy Framework:
subscribe cyberjournal list        mailto:•••@••.•••
Posting archives