Insurgents in Afghanistan are using heroin as a tactical weapon against US forces, hoping to emulate the drug problems that plagued US troops in Vietnam and Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s, says a new investigative report.
In a report at the Daily Beast, author Gerald Posner cites "an internal US intelligence report" that "concluded [insurgents] are targeting American troops in an effort to undermine their effectiveness, while raising cash to pay for new recruits and weaponry."
The report brings up inevitable comparisons to the Vietnam War of the 1960s and 1970s and the Soviet war in Afghanistan that ended two decades ago. It also raises the possibility that the conflict in Afghanistan will spill over into the streets of America as returning troops bring their addictions home with them.
Posner told MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan on Tuesday that drug addiction played a major role in the military failure of those two wars.
"In Vietnam we ended up with a nearly 20 percent addiction rate to China White," Posner said. (A 1971 report on drug addiction among US soldiers in Vietnam pegged the number closer to 15 percent.)
"Soviet soldiers came back from Afghanistan with addictions," Posner continued, noting that Russia is now the world's largest per-capita user of heroin "as a result of those returning Soviet fighters."
Posner said the Army and the Veterans Administration are "preparing in their hospitals for what might be a deluge" of addicted soldiers coming home from Afghanistan.
"Today's Taliban are yesterday's mujaheddin, who fought the Soviets," Posner said on MSNBC's Morning Meeting. "They understand that this is an additional weapon."
The Daily Beast article states:
This heroin bomb then does collateral damage back home. The returning soldiers brought home a heroin problem to Russian cities that grew exponentially during the past two decades. This past March, Russia’s anti-narcotics bureau announced that the country had become the planet’s “No. 1 heroin consumer.”
Today’s Taliban-fighting Americans were yesterday’s mujahideen-fighting Soviets. They saw how heroin helped disable a foreign fighting force more than 20 years ago. And that lesson isn’t lost on them.
Former CIA special agent Jack Rice, who also appeared on MSNBC with Posner, said the fact that insurgents are taking military salaries from soldiers and using that money to fight the United States clearly illustrates the dilemma President Barack Obama faces as he mulls granting a request from top soldiers in Afghanistan to add ground troops to the US mission there.
"Think of this as your biggest problem: We have the Taliban, which are very good administrators -- they're just drug dealers -- on one side, versus the Afghan government, which are horrible administrators, and in many ways also drug dealers," Rice said. "That's where President Obama is right now, dead center of that point."
Rice described the situation as a "disaster."
Posner also said on Morning Meeting that insurgents have developed the ability to produce smokeable heroin in their labs, making it easier for the drug to spread through society.
Ratigan noted that 90 percent of the world's heroin is produced in Afghanistan.
Posner is probably best known for his 1993 book Case Closed, which argued that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman who shot President John F. Kennedy. The book proved a popular counterpoint at the time to Oliver Stone's movie JFK, which argued in favor of a broad conspiracy.
But the book has been severely criticized by many JFK assassination researchers, including some who agree that Oswald acted alone. Gary Mack, curator of the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, described Case Closed as a "blatantly biased attempt to prove the unprovable."
This video is from MSNBC's Morning Meeting, broadcast Oct. 20, 2009.