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PostMy Experience in the "War on Drugs": Thailand (Timothy Brown, USA, 05/13/17 4:53 am)
I agree with Tor Guimaraes (12 May). You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink (even when the horse is smarter than the rider). But if you've been trying and failing miserably to do something for a half century or more, might it not be time to try something different?
My first personal involvement in the "Drug War" came in 1963 in Thailand when I joined a Thai Border Police unit when it went into the Thai-Lao border region. (At the time I was a Marine Thai Intelligence Linguist at FMFPAC/CINCPAC.) The BPP's written orders were, if you find opium poppies, destroy them. But, they told me in private, their orders were to leave them alone. Why? My, initial unspoken thoughts were a classic echo of assumptions--corruption--someone up the chain of command has a personal interest in letting the tribes grow opium. But, sensing my reaction, the BPP commander responded that opium is the tribes' only source of cash income and if we stop them from growing it, they'll just move across the border into Laos, just as they've been doing forever, grow it there and split the income with the Pathet Lao.
Which side would you chose, the devil's or the demon's?
JE comments: Tim Brown's anecdote suggests that the War on Drugs often--invariably?--played second fiddle to the ideological struggle against Communism. Is this an accurate assessment, Tim? And what about opium production in today's Afghanistan? (Replace "Communism" with "Islamism.")