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War and drugs: Together since forever (knowablemagazine.org)
48 points by knowablemag 66 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 13 comments



Good article, but the response to the last question on the use of cannabis in warfare is pretty thoroughly wrong: https://sensiseeds.com/en/blog/cannabis-may-used-weapon-war/


Drug use by Marines, Taliban and Afghan police/army during the Helmand province campaign needs its own study and book.


Why that province specifically?


Just an anecdote of mine. I'm sure there was plenty of drug use in other provinces but my personal experience was in the Helmand. I try not to talk about other places and units I don't have experience in.


Was their a lot of drug use going on? Which drugs?


Oh yea. Mostly weed and some opium. In my company over 50% of us smoked weed.


Lots of Afghanis use opium. Not much else to do out there.


A line from Benjamin Franklin's autobiography, linked to by the article -

'The next day, sensible they had misbehav’d in giving us that disturbance, they sent three of their old counselors to make their apology. The orator acknowledg’d the fault, but laid it upon the rum; and then endeavoured to excuse the rum by saying, ”The Great Spirit, who made all things, made everything for some use, and whatever use he design’d anything for, that use it should always be put to. Now, when he made rum, he said, ‘Let this be for the Indians to get drunk with,’ and it must be so.“

And, indeed, if it be the design of Providence to extirpate these savages in order to make room for cultivators of the earth, it seems not improbable that rum may be the appointed means. It has already annihilated all the tribes who formerly inhabited the sea-coast.'

The passage of time has amusingly cursed him here however. From his own hand, the Indians now come off as witty and polite and he ends up looking like the savage.


Considering Benjamin Franklin in other writings has shown a much more enlightened view of Indians, this passage you quoted might have been written with sarcasm and this is an earlier example of Poe's law. This passage has more to do with the virtue of temperance and rum than indians. This passage is more like objectively talking about how the CIA worked to help import cocaine in the United States in the 80s and how African American communities like Harlem were being destroyed because of the crack epidemic because of these policies of the government.

This passage edited for 2019 internet should read.

'The next day, sensible they had misbehav’d in giving us that disturbance, they sent three of their old counselors to make their apology. The orator acknowledg’d the fault, but laid it upon the rum; and then endeavoured to excuse the rum by saying, ”The Great Spirit, who made all things, made everything for some use, and whatever use he design’d anything for, that use it should always be put to. Now, when he made rum, he said, ‘Let this be for the Indians to get drunk with,’ and it must be so.“

And, indeed, if it be the design of Providence to extirpate these savages in order to make room for cultivators of the earth, it seems not improbable that rum may be the appointed means. It has already annihilated all the tribes who formerly inhabited the sea-coast.' /s


Interesting article.

> "War on drugs”: It's a term that may elicit memories of the US government’s 20th-century campaign against the sale and use of illegal psychoactive substances

Every country in the western world and Asia set up a war on drugs too. Like most things it's not unique to America.

The whole banning drugs thing extended into plenty of different cultures. But became a much bigger issue after we developed our modern economic system which combined mass production with global distribution channels and provided a whole lot of people with disposable income to spend.

> Or opium, for which the British government went to war — twice — with China.

Opium wasn't really the reason they went to war, it was mostly just economic bullying by Britian's part which extended into a bunch of other reasons. It could easily have been over any product like tea (which is what Britian was exchanging the opium for).


> Opium wasn't really the reason they went to war, it was mostly just economic bullying by Britian's part...

Well, that's an interesting spin on the Opium Wars. You say "tea" could have been exchanged for opium?

Last time I checked, "tea" doesn't create addicted zombies that will pretty much totally destroy their lives to get another sip, does it?

Saying opium wasn't the reason is disingenuous...yes, the only thing China was willing to trade Britain for their much desired tea was India's opium, but the widespread social destruction that was created by this trade had to be ended.

I often think that few things in history show just how uncaring governments can be then how the Brit's went to war not once by twice to force the Chinese to continue to accept opium (and thus keep their population addicted and in terrible crisis) as payment for tea.


> Every country in the western world and Asia set up a war on drugs too.

Most modern drug policies that are adopted outside the US were adopted due to pressure from the US or the UN (which is basically the US)


Noteworthy examples that seem to be missing from this are the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms/herbs by the Viking berserkers and the more modern use of Captagon by members of ISIS.




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