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jeremy kuzmarov

From Counter-Insurgency to Narco-Insurgency:

Vietnam and the International War on Drugs
If we have found we cannot be the worlds policeman, can we hope to
become the worlds narc?
H. D. S. Greenway, Life Magazine, October 19721

In the January 1968 issue of the Washingtonian magazine, the son of the great
American novelist John Steinbeck made his professional journalistic debut
with the publication of a controversial article, The Importance of Being
Stoned in Vietnam. John Steinbeck IV, who served as a roving correspondent
for the Pacic Stars and Stripes, wrote that marijuana of a potent quality was
grown naturally in Vietnam, sold by farmers at a fraction of the cost than in
the United States, and could be obtained more easily than a package of Lucky
Strikes cigarettes. He estimated that up to 75 percent of soldiers in Vietnam
got high regularly. The average soldier sees that for all intents and purposes,
the entire country is stoned, Steinbeck observed. To enforce a prohibition
against smoking the plant [in Vietnam] would be like trying to prohibit the
inhalation of smog in Los Angeles.2
Although his words were evocative, Steinbeck exaggerated the scope
of drug abuse in Vietnam for political purposes. He had been arrested on
marijuana charges upon return to his native California and wanted to point
out the hypocrisy of government policies targeting those who had fought for
their country in Vietnam.3 Military psychiatrists working closest to the situation later determined that between 30 percent and 35 percent of American
The author wishes to thank David C. Engerman, William O. Walker III, Michael Willrich,
Clark Dougan, and the two additional anonymous reviewers for their excellent suggestions and insights in shaping this article, as well as Dr. Roger Roman, Dr. Jerome H.
Jae, and other veterans of the war who took time to speak with me.
the journal of policy history, Vol. 20, No. 3, 2008.
Copyright 2008 The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.

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gis likely used marijuanalargely on an experimental basis and to escape

the harrowing social conditions of the war.4 The media nevertheless largely
bought into Steinbecks inated gures and became ooded with articles
pointing to the ravaging eects of drug use in combat, even though predominantly this was rare.5 They often used sensationalistic rhetoric, including
reference to epidemics and plagues, as well as Orientalist stereotypes
depicting drugs as a foreign corrupting agent, resulting in a rise in public
support for an escalation of federal drug-control measuresparticularly in
the international realm.6 In May 1971, Newsweek columnist Stewart Alsop
went so far as to proclaim that drug use during the war was worse than the
My-Lai massacre, which Senator Thomas J. Dodd (D-Conn.) had previously
tried to blame on marijuana.7
Public hysteria over drug abuse in Vietnamand its pronounced
political consequencehas generally been ignored in the academic literature on the War on Drugs, which has focused more on domestic political
developments and the pathologies of the Nixon White House.8 Writing from
a predominantly liberal disposition, many analysts reason that the drug war
emerged as a product of the Conservative backlash toward the hippie counterculture and the sociocultural tensions of the 1960s.9 Others contend that
conservatives manipulated public opinion on the drug issue through inated
statistics in order to push forward a social agenda focused on expanding law
enforcement at the expense of social welfare programs.10 These arguments
are compelling and demonstrate how the War on Drugs has been adopted
to serve important political ends while ushering in what deputy drug czar,
John Walters (198993), characterized as a conservative cultural revolution.11 They nevertheless neglect the broader global context and impact of
the crisis in Vietnam in exacerbating popular anxieties over drugs and in
shaping a shift in governmental priorities.
On June 17, 1971, in the face of mounting domestic protest and the release
of a congressional report claimingexaggeratingly as it turned outthat
10 percent to 15 percent of gis were addicted to high-grade heroin supplied
by cia allies, Nixon ocially declared a War on Drugs. He called drug abuse
public enemy number one in America.12 Escalating the budget for domestic
treatment and enforcement, Nixon stepped up eorts to train foreign police
in the so-called Golden Triangle (encompassing northern Thailand, Laos,
and South Vietnam) and implemented aerial spraying and crop substitution
campaigns more extensive in scope than in Mexico. Nixon further enacted
a highly controversial urinalysis program in the military accompanied by a
rehabilitation regiment for those caught with positive samples. These initiatives were all designed to curb the spread of addiction in the Armed Forces,

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346 | From Counter-Insurgency to Narco-Insurgency

assuage public fears about the return of addicted gis to the United States, and
silence charges of governmental complicity in the international drug trac,
which had become the source of pronounced political embarrassment.13
Nixons policies also had broader implications in providing the groundwork
for his Vietnamization program, which sought to shift the burden of ghting
to the U.S.-dependent South Vietnamese allies. Although neglected by historians, the Southeast Asian drug war of the early 1970s, intricately connected
to Americas involvement in Vietnam, served in retrospect as a watershed in
U.S. foreign narcotics policy in terms of the breadth of federal commitment
and the scope of its programs.14 It further exposed the limits of American
international policing and the nations universal approach to foreign policy
more broadly by arousing popular animosity and resistance and failing to
curb supply rates.

the addicted army and escalation of the southeast

asian drug war
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the United States had been
at the vanguard among Western nations in promoting global drug-control
eorts through diplomatic means as well as the United Nations, largely
as an extension of its domestic policing program. From 1930 until 1962,
Harry J. Anslinger was particularly inuential as head of the Federal Bureau
of Narcotics (fbn) in making drug control an important aspect of American
national security policy and in increasing the presence of U.S narcotic agents
overseas.15 In 1962, in a deal that would set a precedent for the future, the
Kennedy administration provided Mexico with $500,000 worth of helicopters, light planes, jeeps, and ries through the Agency of International
Development (aid) for a special narcotic destruction campaign targeting
marijuana and opium growers.16
During the mid-1950s, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (fbn) rst established bureau posts in Southeast Asia because of an interest in curbing the
source of supply from the region. Following the French defeat at Dien Bien
Phu in 1954, fbn agents began to investigate the alleged involvement of the
Communist Viet Minh in tracking opium from Laos, which actually paled
before the deeper participation of American allies in Thailand.17 The inux
of American troops in South Vietnam during the early 1960s reinforced
administrative concerns about the availability of illicit narcotics. The most
widely used intoxicant in Vietnam was marijuana of a high potency, which
grew wild in the countryside.18 Many farmers sold the drug through local

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retailing merchants, often in packs of Parker Lane and Kent cigarettes. They
could be purchased for 400 Vietnamese piasters or $1.50an unheard of
price by American standards. Marijuana in Vietnam is cheap, easy to nd
and potent, remarked one medical psychiatrist, as quoted in U.S. News &
World Report. The drug is everywhere. All a person has to do to get it is say
the word Khan Sa.19
Despite the easy availability, soldiers predominantly used drugs on a
casual basis and away from the theater of combat. One study found that less
than 10 percent of men admitted to the use of marijuana on duty at some time.
Within the Air Force, the gure was only 2.6 percent.20 Having interviewed
more than ve hundred military personnel, psychiatrist W. B. Postel found
that the usual habit was to smoke the drug after a battle to calm down. Only
one person indicated that he smoked while ghting.21 Frank Bartimo, assistant general counsel for the Department of Defense, similarly concluded, We
have very little, about no drug abuse among troops going into the eld. Guys
who use it say they never do it when theyre going into combat.22 Marvin
Matthiak, an infantryman stationed with the Alpha First Battalion Cavalry
Division added, The press has done a tremendous disservice to this country
in portraying grunts as being out there doing drugs. As far as I know and as
far as everyone else I ever talk to about it, there was essentially no drug use
whatsoever in the bush. Everybody knew what the dangers were and nobody
was stupid enough to incapacitate themselves.23
In 1967, as a result of a growing wave of media attention, the Department
of Defense formed a special task force on narcotics and commissioned psychiatrist Roger A. Roman to conduct a study at the Long Binh Jail, where drugs
were prevalent despite tightening security. He found that 63 percent of prisoners tried marijuana.24 In a follow-up survey, Roman and Ely Sapol determined
that 28.9 percent of gis stationed in the Southern Corps experimented with
marijuana at least once during their tour of duty in South Vietnam, comparable to the rate for young adults between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one
in the United States.25 Both Roman and Sapol later testied before Congress
about the methodological limits of their study in that subjects might have been
reluctant to admit partaking in an illegal activity, though they stressed that
they took pains to ensure strict condentiality. Both were deeply dismayed by
the medias coverage, which inated their data and issued bombastic statements that 60, 70, 80 or even 90 percent of American troops were on drugs.
The average soldier in Vietnam, Sapol stated, is not a drug addict.26
Subsequent military studies found that approximately 35 percent of
soldiers tried marijuana, with only a small percentage recording heavy or

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348 | From Counter-Insurgency to Narco-Insurgency

daily use.27 Hard narcotics were used much less, though many gis began
smoking a form of heroin known as scag in January 1970 after the opening of transportation routes through Cambodia. Government urinalysis
tests recorded a user rate of 5.5 percent.28 Media portrayals made the rate of
abuse seem to be far worse and made no distinction between heroin use and
abuse.29 They also warned exaggeratingly about addicted soldiers returning
to the United States to exacerbate domestic unrest and crime, feeding into a
conservative social agenda.30 In June 1971, Time editorialized, The specter of
weapons-trained, addicted combat veterans joining the deadly struggle for
drugs in the streets of America is ominous. Quoting Iowa Senator Howard
E. Hughes, the article continued, Within a matter of months in our large
cities, the Capone era of the 1920s may look like a Sunday school picnic by
In reality, while the fbis crime index was on the increase, less than
one-half of one percent of all veterans committed any criminal oenses after
returning to the United States and generally achieved higher education and
income levels than their peers.32 Many engaged, further, in principled dissent
against the war, which received scant media coverage, as Jerry Lee Lembcke
documents in The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam
and was often depicted as a product of their supposed psychopathology.33 In
1973, psychiatrist Lee N. Robins of Washington University conducted a series
of interviews with Vietnam veterans who had tested positive for heroin and
concluded that less than 10 percent used any drugs at all back in the United
Statesan extraordinarily high remission rate, which she attributed to shifting
social circumstances and their removal from the death-tainted social environment of Vietnam. Only 1.3 percent of those sampled were drug dependent
and less than one percent addicted to opiates.34 Ensconced in a culture of fear,
the public was falsely imbued with the impression that Americas social fabric
was being torn apart at the seams by half-crazed and doped-up soldiers from
whom nobody was safe.35
From the militarys perspective, any amount of drug use was intolerable. Born of a generation that came of age drinking whiskey, rum, and hard
alcohol, most career ocers believed that drug use was a sign of individual character weakness and that gis who partook in this activity were unt
for duty and should be thrown out of the service.36 Lewis Walt, commander
of the 3rd Amphibious Marine Division and later assistant commandant
of the Marine Corps, referred to drugs in Vietnam as a contagious disease
nearly as deadly as the bubonic plague. . . . The only explanation is that our
enemy wants to hook as many gis as possible.37 In June 1966, General Walt,

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or Uncle Lew as he was aectionately known to his troops, wrote a letter to aid
representatives stating that opium and marijuana were being sold in Danang
and Hoa Phat village near American military bases.38 James E. McMahon, an
aid public safety adviser in Danang responsible for law-enforcement training,
responded by setting up a meeting with the district chief of police, who assured
him of his personal interest in taking action on this matter.39 Secretary of State
Robert S. McNamara subsequently called for a monthly report on all drug-abuse
cases under investigation in the Republic of Vietnam.40
In 1967, as rumors of drug abuse grew stronger, aids Oce of Public
Safety (ops) expanded advisory assistance to the South Vietnamese police,
which established a special Narcotics Bureau to coordinate intelligence
gathering as well as a pioneering buy program designed to stop the ow
of marijuana into U.S. troop areas.41 The cia sometimes staed the bureau
with counterterror specialists, who used the guise of narcotics control to initiate covert programs like Operation Phoenix, where hunter-killer squads
worked to decimate the political infrastructure of the National Liberation
Front (nlf) through targeted assassination.42
Despite this ulterior function, which t a long-standing pattern of collaboration between American counterintelligence and narcotics enforcement
ocers, in 1967, one hundred national policemen were brought to Saigon and
given their rst formalized narcotics training. Between 1967 and 1971, 1,254
members of the national police received specialized eighty-hour courses of
instruction in the investigation and enforcement of narcotic and drug laws.43
In 1968, in the aftermath of the Tet Oensive, the Armys Criminal Investigation Division (cid) developed a special antinarcotics brigade, which received
training in undercover work and intelligence gathering from fbn agents stationed in Thailand.44 The Department of Defense simultaneously instructed
all unit commanders to conduct an aggressive program to combat the threat
of drug abuse.45 In select instances, unit commanders allowed Vietnamese
prostitutes, or local national guests, as they were sometimes referred to as,
into military barracks in order to dissuade soldiers from using drugs. Hannah
Browning, the outraged wife of a Marine, wrote to her congressional representative, I dont want my husband living in a brothel, nor to think of the
commanding general as a pimphorrible but logical.46
In 1969, as a result of the medias increasing focus on the problem of
drug abuse in the Armed Forces, the ops launched a marijuana destruction campaign in collaboration with the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous
Drugs (bndd) and the Vietnamese national police. While serving in some
instances as a pretext to unleash chemical weapons on suspected guerrilla

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350 | From Counter-Insurgency to Narco-Insurgency

infested areas and to force villagers into strategic government controlled
hamlets by ravaging their food crops, the aim of the program was generally to eradicate the growth of marijuana at the source.47 American helicopters began to conduct y-over missions predominantly in the Mekong Delta
region, with pilots assigning kill-ratios to the number of crops destroyed.48
According to aid records, they wiped out more than 504,795 marijuana
plants (or 27,770 pounds). In most cases, aid ocials paid farmers one
piaster (less than one U.S. cent) for each plant targeted.49 Journalist Richard
Boyle aptly commented, The United States is now waging two wars in
Vietnam; one against the Vietcong and the other against Mary Jane [slang
for marijuana].50
The United States eventually realized that it could not successfully sustain
a two-front war. American pilots encountered resistance among farmers who
proted from the black market economy and sought to protect their water
bualo and crops from errant sprayings. As with the broader crop-destruction
program, they reported having to abort several missions after being shot at.
Besides facing open popular deance, the aerial interdiction campaign faced
constraints from the military high command.51 In May 1971, Director of Pacication John Paul Vann sent a memo to senior ops advisers warning them not to
spray marijuana growing elds in the Chau Doc, An Giang, and Se Dec provinces
controlled by the Hoa-Hao sect. He feared alienating them and driving them into
the hands of the nlf. Vann viewed the marijuana program as a bane to broader
pacication eorts designed to win over the hearts and minds of the South
Vietnamese people.52 Although considering the smoking of marijuana to be a
major command problem, he advocated a more restrained crop-substitution program, which was eventually abandoned because of what John Ingersoll,
head of the Bureau of Dangerous Drugs and Narcotics (bndd successor to
the fb) termed higher combat priorities.53
Coinciding with the collapse of the marijuana destruction campaign, the
Department of Defense began to enforce more stringent custom-inspections
guidelines and initiated a program to train specialized dogs in detecting
the scent of marijuana and later opium.54 The vigorous policing tactics,
and growth of the cids antinarcotics brigade, ultimately led to a near tenfold surge in arrest rates, with approximately 6,500 soldiers being court
marshaled for drug-related oenses in 1971 (compared to fewer than 1,000
in 1968, for example).55 The military court system became so jammed with
drug cases that Henry Aronson, a lawyer who provided counsel for accused
soldiers, commented, Drug cases have become to the judicial system here
[in Vietnam] what automobile accidents have become to the civil courts
at home.56

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Faced with court overcrowding and an overburdened criminal justice

apparatus, the Department of Defense in January 1970 adopted a novel
amnesty program, which granted prosecutorial immunity and the promise
of rehabilitation to soldiers who admitted to using drugs. During the rst
three months of its implementation, 3,600 Marines took advantage of this
policythough many distrusted the militarys pledge that their permanent records would be unaected.57 In winter of 1970, Military Assistance
Command (macv) established a special telephone line where gis could get
help for drug-related problems and report any drug tips to the police.58
They also developed their own drug library, which included antidrug tracts
like Donald Lourias evocatively titled Nightmare Drugs and Gabriel Nahass
Marihuana: Deceptive Weed.59 As another preventive measure, the military
command upgraded several state-of-the-art recreational facilities, including
one at Vung Tau o the South China Sea, where gis could go to the beach
and enjoy a luxurious whirlpool and sauna.60 They also invited Hollywood
entertainers to South Vietnam, including Sammy Davis Jr., who was urged to
mix a distinctive antidrug theme with his music.61

smashing an epidemic? operation golden-flow and the

military heroin war
More than its predecessors, the Nixon administration played a key role in promoting the international War on Drugs as part of its broader law-and-order
campaign. Nixon came to oce as part of a Middle American backlash
toward the hippie counterculture, which challenged the dominant consumerist culture of the 1950s and took drugs as a cultural detoxicant and form of
rebellion.62 Nixon exploited divisions in American society by blaming liberal
permissiveness for the social upheavals gripping the country, including the
national agony of Vietnam.63 Because of their symbolic status, drug eradication assumed special signicance in Nixons attempt to restore traditional
moral values and the pre-war status quo. During the 1968 election campaign,
he branded drugs as the modern curse of American youth akin to the
plagues and epidemics of former years threatening to decimate a generation
of Americans.64 In July 1969, after winning the presidency, he made a special
plea before Congress to expand federal funding for antidrug programs, and
in September initiated a sustained interdiction drive on the Mexican border
called Operation Intercept.65 He later launched Operation Cooperation, in
which the United States helped to train more than ve hundred Mexican police
in narcotics enforcement and supplied special military helicopters and aerial

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352 | From Counter-Insurgency to Narco-Insurgency

surveillance equipment. These were crucial in the destruction of more than
twenty thousand opium cultivation sites and eighteen thousand marijuana
elds through the spraying of herbicidal defoliants. An internal State Department study later determined that nearly sixty thousand hectares of nontarget
vegetation was also aected, causing pronounced health and environmental
damages, including skin corrosions among poor farmers, the contamination
of grazing cattle and natural drinking water, and a devastation of the natural
habitat of various endangered animal and sh species.66 Domestically, Nixon
developed a nationally coordinated drug rehabilitation system, as well as the
rst federal antidrug police force, which was also used to bolster the internal
state security apparatus and target radical and subversive organizations under
the pretext that they used drugs.67
The urgency of Nixons antidrug agenda was hastened by the drug
crisis emanating out of Vietnam. As Dr. Jerome H. Jae, a pharmacologist
at the University of Chicago, appointed by Nixon as the rst national director of drug control, put it in a recent interview, The media had helped
to create panic on the streets and the government was forced to respond.
While programs were in place before . . . the Vietnam War was a determining factor [in shaping the growth of federal drug control policies] and
helped to ensure major presidential support.68 In August 1970, National
Security Adviser Henry Kissinger sent Cabinet member Egil Bud Krogh
on a four-day investigative trip to South Vietnam along with Secretary of
Defense Melvin Laird.69 The duo visited thirteen rebases from the demilitarized zone along the 17th parallel to Bac Lu in the southern tip of the
country and witnessed soldiers smoking marijuana and other illegal drugs
almost everywhere they went. Upon return to the United States, Krogh told
Nixon, Mr. President, you dont have a drug problem in Vietnam, you have
a condition.70 He urged Nixon to more conspicuously associate himself
with the War on Drugs and also ordered military commanders to conceal
the gravity of the crisis from visiting congressional representatives bent on
exploiting it for political benet.71 In a secret memo to John Ehrlichman,
which reected in part the growing hostility of high-ranking White House
ocials to domestic political opposition, he commented, My Lai, Con Son
and drug abuse are the type of issues which radical liberals will publicize
in their eorts to undermine the war. I think the U.S. command in South
Vietnam is well aware of these problems created by unlimited disclosure of
sensitive, embarrassing information to hostile Congressional types.72
In May 1971, the public relations fallout surrounding the crisis of the
addicted army reached a high point following the release of a sensational

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congressional report claiming that between 10 percent and 15 percent of

American soldiers were addicted to heroin. Authors Morgan F. Murphy
(D-Ill.) and Robert H. Steele (R-Conn.) traced the roots of this epidemic
to the corruption of American allies in the Golden Triangle and to a sharp
decline in military morale. Steele later recanted on the original gures,
claiming that 5 percent was more realistic.73 The report nevertheless ignited a
potent political controversy, which was intensied following the publication
of Alfred W. McCoys well-researched expose The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, which conrmed allegations of cia complicity in the global drug
trade.74 Both studies gave strength to public demands for the withdrawal of
American troops from Vietnambased in part on the desire to shield them
from the ravages of addictionwhile also promoting support for an expansion of the international War on Drugs.
In a June 1971 speech before the New Hampshire Bar Association, Senator Edmund Muskie (D-Me.) captured the prevailing mood in declaring, If it
is in the interest of our national security to save the people of Vietnam from
Communism, it is also in our national interest to save our own citizens from
the devastation of heroin addiction. . . . The rst step must be to withdraw our
troops by the end of this year.75 Senator William Proxmire (D-Wisc.) told
Congress one year later that the drug problem alone was sucient reason
to get us out. The war in Southeast Asia is not worth a single drug addicted
American.76 Seymour Halpern (R-N.Y.) added that he had become convinced
that the American people were more turned o by the war because of the
drug problem than for any other reason. They have more fear of their sons
becoming drug addicts than being shot. This is reected by so many parents
who come to me as Congressman, who emphasize fears of their youngsters
becoming addicts.77
Top Nixon presidential aides by this time were weary of the political
ramications of the drug crisis in Vietnam, as popular support for the war
reached a nadir. After receiving an advance copy of the Murphy-Steele
report on the eve of its release, Special Counselor to the President Donald
Rumsfeld phoned Steele, a former cia agent, and pleaded with him to
moderate his tone before the media and withhold any damning information pertaining to Americas geopolitical alliance with trackers.78 The State
Department and cia later engaged in a concerted public relations campaign
to discredit McCoy, then a twenty-six-year-old Yale graduate student, as a
knee-jerk opponent of U.S. foreign policy and black sheep gone astray,
and even tried to convince Harper & Row to suppress publication of his
book.79 This in spite of disclosure by cia operative Edgar Pop Buell that he

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354 | From Counter-Insurgency to Narco-Insurgency

oversaw the cultivation of opium by American-backed Hmong tribesman in
Laos and the fact that an internal government study concluded that local
ocials of whom we are in contact have been or may still be involved in
the drug business.80 cia Director Richard Helms publicly proclaimed,
nevertheless: It is arrant nonsense that the cia is somehow involved in the
drug trac. As fathers, we are as concerned about the lives of our children
and grandchildren as the rest of you, while as an agency we are engaged in
tracing the foreign roots of the narcotics scourge.81 Egil Krogh had previously instructed the State Department and Department of Defense to deny
knowledge of the corruption of American allies and to openly declare that
there was not sucient basis to believe that the allegations [of administrative
support for drug trackers] were true.82 Krogh also privately urged Nixon
to take more eective measures and develop a mandate for action against
drugs in order to curb public criticism of his foreign policy.83
Heeding this advice, Nixon undertook a major eradication campaign in
South Vietnam, in addition to expanding domestic policing eorts. On June
3, 1971, Nixon had convened a meeting in the White House with top military
and civilian leaders in which he expressed concern that Vietnam veterans
were popularly perceived to be ruthless killers and junkies and that this
image must be changed.84 Two weeks later, he declared a national state of
emergency surrounding drugs and appropriated $50 million to Dr. Jae as the
new drug czar to establish a urinalysis program for all departing gis, which
was dubbed Operation Golden-Flow.85 Soldiers who tested positive were
medevacked to newly created rehabilitation facilities at Long Binh and Cam
Ranh Bay for a ve- to seven-day period, where they were treated through
group counseling and methadone, a synthetic narcotic substitute deemed
capable of weaning patients o heroin.86 The House Appropriations Committee later approved $17.1 million toward the construction of twenty-eight
specialized Veteran Administration (va) rehab clinics, where gis could continue their treatment upon return to the United States. The va had previously
refused to assist veterans thought to be using drugs.87
In June 1972, the Department of Defense began to administer urinalysis testing to randomly selected units and extended Golden-Flow to troop
displacements in Thailand, Japan, Korea, and West Germany, where senior
White House ocials warned that institutional lethargy toward drug abuse
was helping to create a European Vietnam.88 By the end of 1972, Dr. Jae
boasted that the program was responsible for limiting the scope of heroin
use to under 2 percent from just over 5 percent at its peak, and thought
that he had made a contribution to science equivalent to the discovery

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of the X-Ray and a cure for tuberculosis!89 Assistant Secretary of Defense

Dr. Richard S. Wilbur subsequently proclaimed that Golden-Flow had
helped to smash the gravest disease epidemic in modern military history
virtually overnight!90
Not everyone shared in Wilburs enthusiasm. Dr. Carl A. Segal resigned
his ocers commission because he thought that the tests were unethical and
a violation of personal liberty.91 Sociologist Paul Starr chronicled a culture of
resistance by gis placed in rehabilitation centers against their will. Many saw
them as ineective, badly run, based on a simplistic view of drug use and
designed to save political face.92 They often refused to participate in therapy
sessions run by the same authorities responsible for prosecuting the war, and
attempted to defy the system through acts of insubordination and violence.
The culprits were often placed in solitary connement and eventually forced
into handcus on the plane ride back to the United States in a vivid reection
of the deep internal divisions plaguing the Armed Forces at this time and the
climate of rebellion among lower-ranking grunts.93
From the perspective of those it was designed to assist, the rehabilitation system was hence not nearly as successful or enlightened as Jae and
his backers claimed. They lacked the foresight to recognize that the only
likely solution to the drug problemgiven how wedded it was to the social
environment of the warwas the unilateral withdrawal of American troops.
Dr. Norman Zinberg of Harvard Medical School commented, Unfortunately, the possibility that going home is more eective therapy [for the gi]
than any treatment program now available is scarcely considered. Perhaps,
he added, because then no agency or class of professionals could claim
him as their success.94 For all its shortcomings, nevertheless, which were
legion, Operation-Golden-Flow played an important political role for the
Nixon administration in proving its resolve in ghting drug abuse. Nixon
received positive press coverage, as well as numerous letters from citizens
praising his commitment toward solving a crisis some Americans viewed as
the gravest facing their generation, as one Maine woman put it in a letter
to Senator Muskie.95 This was crucial coming at a time when his administration faced intense criticism for failing to abide by its 1968 campaign promise of peace with honor and furthering the devastation in large parts of
Indochina (including Laos and Cambodia).96 In many ways, Nixons drug
policies reect what the historian Joan Ho has found to be Nixons hidden pragmatism and uncanny ability to bounce back politically from scandal
and the abuse of power, which marred his presidency, in part by tapping into
popular anxieties to his benet.97 He was successful in turn in advancing

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356 | From Counter-Insurgency to Narco-Insurgency

grass-roots support for the conservative movement, whose main goal was
to restore public condence in the nations capacity for global power, and
transcend the social crisis of the 1960s, for which drugs provided a potent

vietnamization of the war on drugs

For Nixon, Vietnam was always a sideshow that detracted from his grander
ambition of easing Cold War tensions through dtente and gaining international acclaim for promoting world peace. In the face of mounting protest
against the war, including from U.S. troops, Nixon crafted the Vietnamization strategy, which called for a shift in the ghting burden to the South
Vietnamese Army (arvn) and the renewal of nation-building programs.
It was designed to help salvage American credibility without sacricing any
of its strategic interests, while at the same time minimizing public dissent.99
Unrecognized to many historians, Nixons escalation of the international War
on Drugs was a central dimension to Vietnamization. Its primary aim, besides
bolstering the public reputation of the U.S. Armed Forces and easing public
anxieties about the return of addicted vets, was to improve the image of the
South Vietnamese government so as to allow for its political sustainability.100
Nixon was ghting an uphill battle due to revelations of widespread human
rights abuses and systematic torture. This was in addition to the connection
with drug tracking, which was rst exposed by the radical Ramparts magazine and eventually in the mainstream press.101
In mid-1970, Nixon had begun applying diplomatic pressure on President
Nguyen Van Thieu to crack down on this problem, which congressional
opponents of the war likened to an infectious cancer.102 In May 1971, after
the release of the Murphy-Steele report, Congress included a provision in
the Foreign Assistance Act requiring the president to cut o military and
economic aid to any country determined to be uncooperative in narcotics
control and to petition international development organizations, including
the World Bank, to deny monetary assistance.103 In a secret meeting, American ambassador Bunker and General Creighton Abrams threatened to break
ties with Thieu if he did not comply with the new regulations. Bunker told
him, In all frankness, no one can assure that the American people will continue to support Vietnam or the Congress will vote the hundreds of millions
required for economic assistance next year and in the following years, if this
situation continues. Bunker added, You are well aware that the American
press is now lled with articles about the heroin trac in Vietnam and the

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involvement of high ocials. A more concentrated eort is required by your

government as a whole to penetrate the upper level of the narcotic tracking
After being issued the ultimatum, Thieu launched a sustained antidrug
oensive under the leadership of Admiral Chung Tan Cang, a former classmate at Saigons merchant marine academy, who replaced twenty-ve police
chiefs throughout the countryside and ten out of eleven precinct commanders in Saigon.105 Admiral Chung also issued an order to have more than three
hundred corrupt ocers dismissed from Tansonhut airport and to re several
prominent ocials linked to the drug trac, which critics viewed as a public
relations ploy to protect Thieus inner ruling circle from exposure.106 Tran
Van Tuyen, a deputy in Thieus cabinet who led an anticorruption drive, commented cynically, Eradication was done with reluctance [by Thieu] in order
to gag the press so that he and a group of protgs could continue to exploit the
anti-Communist struggle to get rich upon the toil and blood of the people.107
Irrespective of the true motives, following the purges, Admiral Chung
helped to create a special Joint Narcotics Investigation Division (jnid) to
coordinate all police interdiction in conjunction with former cia operative Byron Engle, head of the ops.108 In the fall of 1971, sixty-seven jnid
ocers were sent to the United States for intensive counter-narcotics training.
New members were outtted with modernized law enforcement equipment,
including oshore patrolling boats capable of intercepting Thai shing trawlers, which regularly smuggled heroin into the country, and Marquis Reagent
testing kits, which held the capability of positive on the spot identication of narcotic substances.109 Receiving more than $2 million in foreign aid,
jnid ocers became known for their ruthlessness and corruption.110 They
nevertheless nabbed several high-prole trackers, including portly Saigon
nancier Tap Vinh, and, according to U.S. data, seized 14,269 marijuana cigarettes as well as 23,656 vials of heroin and contributed to an estimated 70
percent increase in arrest rates. The street price of heroin subsequently rose
from $1.50 to $9 per gram.111
On June 17, 1971, Thieu initiated a Vi-Dan campaign to eradicate social
evils, which included a major focus on narcotics.112 In Phu-Bon, located in
II Corps, provincial chiefs organized a massive parade to celebrate the commemoration of a special anti-narcotics day in which banners, posters, and
placards were raised depicting the evils of drugs and speeches were made
denouncing them as the rst enemy of the South Vietnamese nation. In a
symbolic act, local residents burned a dummy labeled heroin in egy in
the town center.113 On August 12, 1972, Thieu issued a decree mandating a life

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358 | From Counter-Insurgency to Narco-Insurgency

sentence for the importation of opium, morphine, or heroin and the death
penalty for members of organized tracking syndicates.114 The new laws were
promoted in a public relations campaign funded by the ops. One emblematic poster pictured a sad man sitting in a tiny and decrepit jail cell under
the headline, One day in jail equals 1000 days in freedom. Dont sell Heroin
to American gis.115 Thieu sought to portray himself through these ads as
a champion of drug prohibitionready to dole out swift justice to anyone
caught selling heroin. Reliant on U.S. military support and foreign aid for
survival, as his vice president openly admitted in a 1977 interview, Thieu faced
few alternatives.116 The State Department had come under intense public
pressure to clean up the image of American allies and curb the spread of drug
abuse in the military as a precondition for implementing their Vietnamization strategy and preserving the war eort. They were also desperate to
smooth over the scandal surrounding the cia, which the South Vietnamese
drug war was in part designed to counteract.

internationalization of american criminal justice: the

war on drugs in thailand
For political and security reasons, the State Department extended its narcoinsurgency into the notorious Golden Triangle, which was a major source
base for the opium imported into South Vietnam. The United States enjoyed
a particularly close relationship with the Thai ruling dictatorship, which
agreed to cooperate with the War on Drugs in return for aid in crushing an
incipient guerrilla insurrection.117 During the late 1960s, the ops began advisory training of the 7th subdivision of the Thai national police in narcotics
enforcement and intelligence gathering in an attempt to curb the source of
supply reaching American gis. They also formed a police aerial reinforcement unit, which was intended to enhance customs and border patrol, while
sometimes providing a camouage for cia operations into neighboring Laos
and Vietnam.118
As the drug crisis in Vietnam intensied, Nixon increased the number
of federal narcotics agents in Thailand from ve to eleven. On August 4, 1971,
Egil Krogh visited with Thai ocials and issued a memo to State Department ocials calling for an all out war to disrupt those supplying American
troops with drugs.119 On September 28, 1971, American ambassador Leonard
Ungar helped broker a pact, in which the United States agreed to send Black
Hawk helicopters to bolster the drug enforcement capacities of the Royal
Thai police, which had received previous U.S. monetary assistance under ops
programs for what it termed domestic security purposes.120 A congressional

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investigation later uncovered that much of the American drug war aid
continued to fulll these ends and was funneled toward nancing the repressive policing apparatus of the Thai government, which frequently carried out
spot executions and torture.121
In October 1971, Prime Minister Thanom Kittikachorn red the deputy
commander of the national Police, Colonel Pramuel Vanigbhandu, and
Paesert Ruchirawongse, director general of the national police. Both had
been publicly linked to drug tracking networks in a series of articles
appearing in the Bangkok Daily Post. Colonel Pramuel later turned up at
Water Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he claimed to be suering
from mental problems.122 In 1972, the State Department helped to develop a
mobile task force to crack down on drug smuggling in loosely policed zones
in the northern part of the country. Within a few months, the Thai police
had a total of thirty-seven ocers on active duty and seized upward of
4,720 kilograms of opiates.123 They also landed several high-prole arrests,
including William Henry Jackson, an African American veteran indicted
for smuggling heroin in the cons of dead soldiers, and Burmese warlord
Lo Hsing-Han, who senior U.S. narcotics adviser Nelson Gross termed an
international bandit responsible for a growing proportion of Asias and
Americas drug caused miseries.124 The cia proclaimed Los capture to be a
major step forward in the War on Drugs, though in reality it enabled rival
Khun Sa (aka Chiang Chi Foo) to take over his market share and emerge
as the most powerful opium warlord in the Golden Trianglewithout any
major eect on supply.125
Crop substitution was an important element of the drug war in Thailand
and was tied to broader economic development programs designed to
inculcate pro-American sentiments among the indigenous population and
improve their living conditions. As part of the 1971 agreement, Ambassador
Ungar pledged to donate $5 million to encourage the growth of maize, corn,
peaches, and kidney beans as an alternative to opium.126 The Department of
Agriculture later established a specialized research center at Chiang Mai and,
with un backing, two fruit and nut experimental centers on opium-growing
sites in the Doi Suthep Mountains.127 In July 1972, the State Department
brokered a resettlement program for Chinese Guomindang (kmt) soldiers
under the command of General Li Wen-Huan. The kmt had become major
opium traders after losing nancial support from the cia following a failed
Bay of Pigsstyle reinvasion of the Chinese mainland during the early 1960s.128
In return for land, citizenship, and 20.8 million baht (almost $1 million),
they agreed to burn twenty-six tons of opium in a ceremony witnessed by
two State Department envoys and a forensic chemist. It was later uncovered

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360 | From Counter-Insurgency to Narco-Insurgency

that they substituted horse fodder for opium.129 This asco exemplied the
ineectiveness of American drug-control eorts in Thailand, which nevertheless endured through the reinstitution of democracy in 1973 and the bloody
U.S.-supported 1976 Kittikachorn counter-coup.130

poppies, pipes, and people: the war on heroin in laos

The State Department enacted its most sustained drug-control program in
Laos. Throughout the 1960s, the United States had kept a hands-o policy
on narcotics control according to internal government documents because
American allies ghting a secret war under cia tutelage, including Hmong
chief Vang Pao, were heavily involved in the opium trac. Legendary cia
operative Anthony Poshepny (aka Ton Poe), best known for providing
rewards for the capture of enemy ears, bluntly told journalist Roger Warner
years later, You could have a war against Communism or a war against drugs,
but you couldnt have both.131
Following the publication of the Murphy-Steele report, the State Department began levying greater pressure on the Royal Lao government (rlg) for
reform.132 In November 1971, the rlg implemented a federal decree making
illegal the importation of acetic anhydride, an essential element in the production of heroin. Under U.S. pressure, they further banned the production,
sale, and consumption of opium, which was known locally as khai, or ower
medicine.133 The new bills sparked vocal opposition and were highly unpopular because opium was for centuries an important cash crop in Laos and was
used for medicinal, spiritual, and holistic purposes.134 In January 1972, the
bndd nevertheless helped to form a special police unit capable of enforcing
the governments edict.135 By August, several American-trained teams headed
by the Lao chief of intelligence conducted raids of known reneries in Ban
Houei Sai, Luang Prabang, and in the capital of Vientiane.136 In January 1973,
the bndd stationed two full-time agents in Vientiane and provided customs
ocers with jeeps, boats, and walkie-talkies for narcotic enforcement purposes. They further organized a vigorous system of cargo inspection at Wattay airport in Vientiane resulting in several major arrests.137
On the whole, the Nixon administration procured over $2.9 million
toward the Laotian drug war, some of which was diverted toward pure military and counterinsurgency ends. Part of Nixons budget went toward the
development of a drug rehabilitation program to treat Lao heroin addicts,
including soldiers, which resulted from the growth of the renery industry.138
In 1972, usaid funded two major clinics in Wat Tham Ka Bok and Vientiane

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jeremy kuzmarov |


providing methadone treatment to addicts mixed with Buddhist spirituality

and prayer.139 Dr. Jae later advocated that aid turn all opium parlors into
methadone centers.140 These programs served as a latch-ditch eort at nationbuilding by American policymakers, who saw them as a means of promoting
goodwill and showing the benign intent of U.S. foreign policy. They also
exemplied the interplay between foreign and domestic policy and missionary-like drive of the methadone king (as Jae was nicknamed) and his
contemporaries to curb the global scourge of drug abuse using the latest
scientic innovation. This was notwithstanding the contradiction that heroin
in Laos was a direct by-product of American foreign policy and the social
ravages of the war.
The public health model that Jae espoused was generally overshadowed
by more widely publicized eradication eorts. In March 1972, the State
Department contemplated bombing an opium renery near Ban Houei Sai,
which was later destroyed in a mysterious re that embassy ocials claimed
was set by the cia. One agent commented, With bombing, everyone would
have known that we did it. With a re, people are not sure. It may be a business rival.141 These comments testify to the important balancing act played
by American embassy ocials, who hoped to placate American public
opinion by promoting prohibition while minimizing Laotian popular dissent.
The State Department likely leaked the re plot to the press for public relations purposes and to help exonerate the cia of charges of complicity in the
international drug trade.
In 1972, the aid began to relocate indigenous families to northern Laos
to promote alternative crop development. The agency opened an agricultural
center in the Phu Pha Dang province headed by community development
specialist Gary Alex, where it trained Lao opium producers in vegetable,
livestock, and sh production.142 Most people were resentful and hesitant to
move from their ancestral homeland and farms, to which they were deeply
attached. American Ambassador G. McMurtrie Godley, who had been a fervent supporter of the cluster village program and the extensive bombing
campaign accompanying it, himself worried about the political ramications
of crop substitution. In a secret memo to Secretary of State William Rogers,
he commented, [Crop substitution] will cause the loss of livelihood, which
will hurt us in an attempt to redress the losses caused by the war.143
Godley nevertheless began to target opium elds as part of a vicious
bombing campaign that he directed on areas controlled by the Pathet Lao.
These operations caused tens of thousands of civilian casualties and a mass
exodus of refugees. In 1973, after lobbying by two International Voluntary

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362 | From Counter-Insurgency to Narco-Insurgency

Service workers, Fred Branfman and Walter Haney, Massachusetts senator
Edward Kennedy chaired a congressional committee to expose the humanitarian crisis.144 A number of refugees testied that at least fteen people
had been poisoned to death by chemical herbicides and defoliants sprayed
directly on their opium crops by American military aircraft. The residue
from the spraying had allegedly infested local livestock, papaya plants,
and vegetables, which contributed to the spread of disease.145 Ambassador
Godley vehemently denied these allegations, though the adavits appeared
convincing and consistent with mounting evidence surrounding the use of
toxic defoliants like Agent Orange as part of the broader counterinsurgency
campaign.146 By this point in the war, the local population had endured inordinately high casualty rates and massive social displacement from political
violence, bombing, and the American cluster village resettlement program,
which was modeled after the Strategic Hamlet prototype in South Vietnam.147
By spoiling their crops, threatening their livelihood, and causing more senseless fatalities, the opium eradication campaign served as another source of
both anxiety and periland added to the ravages of the secret war.

there is no underworld stigma: the failure of

Besides contributing to human rights abuses, the drug war ultimately failed
to strike a dent in the ow of heroin. One aid ocial observed that despite
our campaign in Laos being among the most aggressive in the world, there
is no control of aircraft movement and the narcotics enforcement machinery
cannot challenge senior generals or military politicians wishing to engage in
narcotics tracking. Nothing could prevent them.148 Apart from endemic
corruption, the shortcomings of the counter-narcotics campaign were predicated on similar factors shaping the general failure of U.S. foreign policy,
namely, its inability to win over the hearts and minds of the indigenous
population. The State Department and federal enforcement agencies faced
grave diculties in adapting to local circumstance and convincing local
farmers that it was in their best interest to stop growing opium in a depressed
wartime economy.149 Chao La, Yao chief of the opiate growing Nam Keung
Province bordering Thailand, told an American reporter that what the Protestant ethic of American society sees as corrupt, others see as fair game. . . .
It is hard for my people to understand why they should stop growing opium
because they are told that it aects Americans thousands of miles away in a
strange country.150 Godley similarly observed that there was no underworld

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jeremy kuzmarov |


stigma attached to any of the local principals or fetch and carry men who
transported drugs through Luang Prabang [in Laos]. In a memo to
Washington explaining the diculty of U.S. drug-control eorts, he recounted an incident, which he termed pathetic, where Laotian municipal
ocers gave opium to several men they had arrested on drug charges out of
fear that they would develop painful withdrawal symptoms. The police chief
subsequently told him: We had to nd opium for them to smoke, otherwise,
because of a strong craving for the drug they would scream, cry or raise a
hue.151 These comments epitomize the deep barriers plaguing drug-control
eorts in Laos, which American policymakers could do little to alter.
The same was true throughout Southeast Asia. A June 1972 cid sta
report concluded that the ow of drugs was so abundant and the distribution through local nationals so pervasive, that eorts to cut o the supply,
even within the military compounds, are like trying to imprison the morning
mist.152 In Thailand, despite State Department pressure, a joint cia-bndd
intelligence report in 1972 concluded that ocials of the Royal Thai army
and Customs at checkpoints along the route to Bangkok are usually bribed
and protection fees prepaid by the smuggling syndicates. The Thai government has little desire or power to stop this.153 In Vietnam, the massive social
dislocation bred by the war, the rural-to-urban exodus from the bombings
and high protability of the black-market economy amid inationary pressures, and the inux of U.S. capital were major factors shaping the ineectiveness of Nixons programs and the pervasiveness of rampant governmental
corruption.154 Despite embassy pressures, U.S. narcotic agents continued to
suspect that high-ranking military personnel and jnid ocers were skimming the prots of all drug seizures, which one ops adviser evidently concluded presents a major problem in narcotics investigations.155 When asked
by a New York Times reporter about whether or not he had condence in the
ability of his new sta at Tansonhut airport to curb smuggling, Colonel Cao
Van Khanh tellingly replied with a prompt no.156 In 1973, Ingersoll resigned
as head of the bndd because of the perceived futility of existing drug-control
eorts. He told a congressional committee that a cultural problem in IndoChina was involved and entire cultures are not changed overnight.157
These comments conveyed a patronizing attitude toward Southeast
Asian cultures, which lay at the root of the failure of American drug-control
programs, as well as a universal belief in the utility of narcotics control
that was not necessarily transcending. They also display a disregard for the
social circumstances of the war, fueling the durability of the black-market
economy and the spread of corruption, trends that were magnied at the end

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364 | From Counter-Insurgency to Narco-Insurgency

of the war as government ocials (and no less than a few of their American
advisers) stashed money in overseas bank accounts in preparation for life
in exile.158 From a political standpoint, the War on Drugs was considerably
more successful than it was in practice. It helped to bolster the drug- and
crime-ghting image of the Nixon administration and won support from the
so-called forgotten Americans, who were put o by the social upheaval of the
previous decade and the nations declining global status.159 In August 1971,
Krogh furnished a public list of Indochinese ocials removed or shifted as
a result of investigations in drug tracking, which was intended to counter
allegations of governmental complicity in the international trac.160 In
October 1972, Nixon gave a campaign speech providing a point-by-point
rebuttal to George S. McGoverns 1972 campaign charge that the War on Drugs
had become a casualty of the Vietnam War.161 Nixon frequently boasted
further about the vast resources that his government was committing to halt
the drug epidemic in Vietnam, and publicly claimed that the nation had
turned the corner on drug abuse, rolling up victory after victory.162 Although
the reality was far dierent (the DEA admitted that it was only intercepting 15
percent of all drugs entering the country),163 the American public lacked the
rsthand knowledge to contradict such statements.

Popular fears surrounding the addicted army in Vietnam played a central
role in shaping the expansion of the American international drug war during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Fearful of skyrocketing military addiction
rates, American policymakers initiated a sustained campaign against drugs in
South Vietnam and neighboring countries, which implemented an array of
methods whose scope dwarfed previous eradication eorts. These included
police training, aerial surveillance and defoliation, and rehabilitation as well
as urinalysis and crop substitution. One unique aspect was the skilled use
of regional allies to fulll American political aims, which testied in part to
the powerful diplomatic leverage that it possessed as well as the dependent
character of the regimes involved. In spite of all the expended energies and
resources, the American War on Drugs in Southeast Asia ultimately fell short
of its stated goals primarily due to economic and cultural factors as well as geopolitical constraints. Convinced of the moral righteousness of the campaign,
as in other realms of their foreign policy, American government ocials failed
to account for the localized antipathy and resistance that their policies bred,
including from members of their own armed forces. They were also unable

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to recognize or address the sociopolitical factors and wartime conditions

fueling the high rates of both supply and demand. From an administrative
perspective, practical deciencies and the exacerbation of anti-American
sentiment were ultimately less important than the political value of the drug
war policy in easing public anxieties over the addiction of U.S. soldiers, paving the way for Vietnamization, and improving Nixons public image. Based
on political considerations and the continued fear of drug abuse in the United
States, Nixons drug-control formula was later adopted by successive administrations, which institutionalized the War on Drugs as a crucial dimension of
American national security policy. This was in spite of the many shortcomings, including the link to extensive human rights violations and the ironic
invocation of Vietnam analogies by critics because of a continued failure to
curb supply rates.164 From one quagmire to another, one could surmise.
Bucknell University

1. H. D. S. Greenway, The Book the cia Couldnt Put Down: A Review of the
Politics of Heroin by Alfred W. McCoy Life Magazine, 20 October 1972, cia les, RDP80,
2000/05/15 (National Archives, College Park, Md.).
2. See John Steinbeck IV, The Importance of Being Stoned in Vietnam,
Washingtonian Magazine, January 1968, 3338.
3. John Steinbeck IV, In Touch (New York, 1969), 77.
4. Personal interview, Dr. Roger Roman, University of Washington, School of
Social Work, November 2004 (telephone), M. D. Stanton, Drugs, Vietnam, and the
Vietnam Veteran: An Overview, American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse (March
1976): 55770.
5. Jack Anderson, gi Drug Report Kicks up a Storm, Washington Post, 3 February
1971, B11; Gloria Emerson, gis in Vietnam Get Heroin Easily, New York Times, 25 February
1971, 39; Jack Anderson, Combat Dangers of gi Drug Abuse Told, Washington Post, 5 June
1971, D13.
6. Among sensational media pieces, see Arturo Gonzalez Jr., The Vietcongs Secret
Weapon: Marijuana, Science Digest, April 1969, 1720, B. Drummond Ayres Jr., Army Is
Shaken by Crisis in Morale and Discipline, New York Times, 5 September 1971, 1.
7. Stewart Alsop, Worse than My-Lai Newsweek, 24 May 1971, 108, Robert M. Smith,
Senator Says gis in Song-My Smoked Marijuana Night Before Incident, New York Times,
25 March 1970, 14, My-Lai Drug Question Raised New York Times, 16 March 1970, 24.
8. See, for example, Edward Jay Epstein, Agency of Fear: Opiates and Political Power
(New York, 1977); Christian Parenti, Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in an Age of
Crisis (London, 1999); Dan Baum, Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics

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366 | From Counter-Insurgency to Narco-Insurgency

of Failure (Boston, 1996); Musto and Korsemeyer, The Quest for Narcotic Control (New
Haven, 2002); Michael Massing, The Fix (New York, 1998).
9. See, for example, David Lenson, On Drugs (Minneapolis, 1995); James A.
Inciardi, The War on Drugs: Heroin, Cocaine, Crime, and Public Policy (Palo Alto, 1984;
rev. ed., 1996).
10. See, for example, Craig Reinarman and Harry G. Levine, Crack in America:
Demon Drugs and Social Justice (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1997); Campbell and Reeves,
Cracked Coverage: Television News, the Anti-Cocaine Crusade, and the Reagan Legacy
(Durham, 1994); Noam Chomsky, Drug Policy as Social Control, in Prison Nation: The
Warehousing of Americas Poor, ed. Herival and Wright (New York, 2003).
11. Baum, Smoke and Mirrors, 104.
12. Richard M. Nixon, Special Message to the Congress on Drug Abuse
Prevention and Control 17 June 1971, Public Papers of the President of the United
States (Washington, D.C., 1971), 744, Morgan F. Murphy and Robert H. Steele, The
World Heroin Problem, Report of the Special Study Mission, 92nd Cong., 1st sess., 21
May 1971 (Washington, D.C., 1971), Drug Forum, January 1972, 98.
13. See The cias Flourishing Opium Trade Ramparts, 13 June 1968, 8; Alfred W.
McCoy, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, with Cathleen Read and Leonard P. Adams
(New York, 1972); McGovern Calls War on Drugs a Casualty of the Indo-China War,
18 September 1972, Press Release, Nixon Presidential Materials, Egil Krogh Papers (National
Archives, College Park, Md.), box 32, folder 3.
14. One exception to this neglect is Daniel Weimers Seeing Drugs: The American
Drug War in Thailand and Burma, 19701975 (Ph.D diss., Kent State University, 2003),
which looks at these programs through the lens of modernization theory.
15. See John C. McWilliams, The Protectors: Harry J. Anslinger and the Federal Bureau
of Narcotics, 19301962 (Delaware, 1990); Walker and Kinder, Stable Force in a Storm:
Harry J. Anslinger and United States Foreign Narcotics Policy, 19301962 Journal of
American History (March 1986): 90827.
16. Records of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Narcotics and Drug Abuse,
box 1, JFK Presidential Library, Boston; Richard B. Craig, La Campana Permanente:
Mexicos Anti-Drug Campaign in the 1970s, Journal of Inter-American Studies and World
Aairs (May 1978): 10731.
17. The Narcotics Trac in Indo-China, American Embassy Saigon to Department of State, Washington D.C., 18 May 1954, Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs
(National Archive, College Park, Md.), box 164, folder Vietnam, 195367 (hereafter
bndd); Wayland Speer to Harry J. Anslinger Red China and the Narcotic Trac
Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, 7 July 1954. bndd, box 164, File Vietnam, VietnamDope
Smuggling Mission Contract Plane, Administrative Inquiry, International Cooperation
Administration, Oce of Personal Security and Integrity, Inspectors Division, 18
October 1956. On Vietminh involvement, see Christopher E. Goscha, Thailand and the
Southeast Asian Networks of the Vietnamese Revolution, 18851954 (London, 1999), 2014.
18. Steinbeck, In Touch, 132; Monthly Drug Abuse Report, Edward G. Lurie,
Colonel, MPC, Deputy Provost Marshall, January 1972, Records of the U.S. Army
Vietnam, Drug Programs & Plans Branch (National Archives, College Park, Md.) box 4,
folder 12 (hereafter DP&P), Marijuana in Vietnam, Major Anthony Pietropinto, Chief
Mental Hygiene Consultation Services, Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, Drug Abuse, DP&P,
box 4.

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19. Fresh Disclosures on Drugs and gis U.S. News & World Report, 6 April 1970, 32;
Hearings on Drug Abuse in the Armed Forces, Part 21 (Washington, D.C., 1971), 278.
20. Allan H. Fischer, Preliminary Findings from the 1971 Department of Defense
Survey of Drug Use, Human Resources Research Organization, Alexandria, Virginia (March
1972), 41.
21. Wilfred B. Postel, Marijuana Use in Vietnam: A Preliminary Report, USARV
Medical Bulletin (SeptemberOctober 1968): 57.
22. Washington Post, 9 August 1970, A3.
23. Interview with Pvt. Marvin Matthiak, Vietnam Archives, Douglas Pike Virtual
Vietnam Archive, Texas Tech University, Oral History Project, www.vietnam.ttu.edu.
24. Roger A. Roman, Survey of Marijuana Use: Prisoners Conned in the USARV
Installation Stockade as of July 1, 1967, In Pike and Goldstein, History of Drug Use in the
Military, Drug Use in America: Problem in Perspective (Washington, D.C., 1973), Memo
for the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Manpower), 9 November 1967; DP&P (National
Archives, College Park, Md.), box 4, folder 12.
25. Roman and Sapol,Marijuana in Vietnam: A Survey of Use among Army Enlisted
Men in the Two Southern Corp, International Journal of the Addictions (May 1970): 1516;
Personal interview, Roger Roman, University of Washington School of Social Work,
1 November 2004 (telephone); Drug AbuseGame Without Winners: A Basic Handbook
for Commanders, Armed Forces Information Services, 1968, Department of Defense,
Report on Drug Abuse in the Republic of Vietnam, Records of the U.S. Army Vietnam,
DP&P, box 4, folder 12.
26. Alleged Drug Abuse in the Armed Services, Hearings Before the Special Senate
Subcommittee, 91st Cong., 2nd sess., 1277; Personal interview, Dr. Roger R. Roman,
University of Washington School of Social Work, 1 November 2004 (telephone).
27. Casper et al., Marijuana in Vietnam, USARV Medical Bulletin, Pamphlet
40 (1968): 6072; Captain Wilfred B. Postel, Marijuana Use in Vietnam: A Preliminary
Report, USARV Medical Bulletin (SeptemberOctober, 1968): 5659; Black, Owens, and
Wol, Patterns of Drug Use: A Study of 5,482 Subjects, American Journal of Psychiatry
(October 1970); M. Duncan Stanton, Drugs, Vietnam, and the Vietnam Veteran:
An Overview, American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse (March 1976): 55770;
Allen H. Fischer, Analyses of Selected Drug-Related Topics: Findings from Interviews
at 4 Armed Service Locations (Alexandria, Va., 1972).
28. Norman Zinberg, Heroin Use in Vietnam and the United States, Archives of General
Psychiatry (April 1975): 95596; Department of Defense, Results of Urinalysis Screening,
Drug Abuse in the Military, Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Drug Abuse in the Military
of the Armed Services, U.S. Senate, 92nd Cong., 2nd sess. (Washington, D.C., 1972).
29. Personal interview, Dr. Jerome H. Jae, 25 February 2005 (telephone).
30. See Michael Flamm, Law and Order: Street Crime, Civil Unrest, and the Crisis of
Liberalism in the 1960s (New York, 2005); Stewart Alsop, The Smell of Death, Newsweek,
1 February 1971, 76.
31. The New Public Enemy No. 1, Time, 28 June 1971, 20; see also The gis Other
Enemy: Heroin, Newsweek, 24 May 1971, 26; The Heroin Plague: What Can Be Done?
Newsweek, 5 July 1971, 27.
32. See Paul Starr, The Discarded Army: Veterans After Vietnam (New York, 1973),
23; Eric T. Dean, Shook Over Hell: Post-Traumatic Stress, Vietnam, and the Civil War
(Cambridge, Mass., 1997), 12; Wilbur J. Scott, The Politics of Readjustment: Vietnam Veterans

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368 | From Counter-Insurgency to Narco-Insurgency

Since the War (New York, 1993); Louis Harris et al., Myths and Realities: A Study of Attitudes
Towards Vietnam Era Veterans (Washington, D.C., 1980); Burkett and Whitley, Stolen Valor:
How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History (Dallas, 1998), 72.
On rising crime patterns, see Charles E. Silberman, Criminal Violence, Criminal Justice
(New York, 1978), 81; Michael Flamm,Politics and Pragmatism: The Nixon Administration,
White House Studies (Spring 2007).
33. See Jerry Lee Lembcke, The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of
Vietnam (New York, 1998), 114; H. Bruce Franklin, The Antiwar Movement We Are
Supposed to Forget, in Vietnam and Other American Fantasies (Amherst, 2000). For an
emblematic article-quoting counter-demonstrators who question their credibility at an
antiwar rally, see Veterans Discard Medals in War Protest at Capital, New York Times,
24 April 1971, 1.
34. Lee N. Robins, The Vietnam Drug User Returns (SAODAP Monograph Series)
A, no. 2 (Washington, D.C., 1974); Narcotic Use in Southeast Asia and Afterwards:
An Interview of 898 Returnees, Archives of General Psychiatry (August 1975); Laurie
Beth Michael, An Investigation of the Substance Abuse Behavior of Men of the Vietnam
Generation (Ph.D diss., Columbia University, 1980); Rohrbaugh et al., Eects of the
Vietnam Experience on Subsequent Drug Use Among Servicemen, International Journal
of the Addictions (September 1974): 2540; William Claiborne, gi Drug Use Figure Raised,
But Few Are Still Addicted, Washington Post, 24 April 1973, A1.
35. See Barry Glassner, The Culture of Fear: Why Americans are Afraid of the Wrong
Things (New York, 1999).
36. See, for example, BG Ursano, USARV to Headquarters, USARV, 26 September
1970, CIB, box 1, Instructional Lesson Plan for Drug Abusers in Vietnam; Department
of the Army, USAV, 1971, Drug Abuse Game Without Winners: A Basic Handbook for
Commanders, Department of Defense Information Service (Washington, D.C., 1968);
Why We Smoke Marijuana: An Interview with Frank Bartimo Family, 18 March 1970.
37. The World Drug Trac and Its Impact on U.S. Security, Hearings Before the
Select Subcommittee, Committee of the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 2nd sess., Part 4, South
East Asia (Washington, D.C., 1972), 12526, pt. 1, 58; Daniel Weimer, Drugs as Disease:
Heroin, Metaphors, and Identity in Nixons Drug War, Janus Head (June 2003): 273;
Interview with Lewis W. Walt, cbs News, 14 September 1972 (transcript).
38. L.W. Walt to Marcus J. Gordon, Sr. Regional Representative, usaid, 1 July 1966,
bndd, box 164, File Vietnam. See also Lewis W. Walt, Strange War, Strange Strategy:
A Generals Report on Vietnam, foreword by Lyndon B. Johnson (New York, 1970).
39. Marcus J. Gordon, Regional Director, usaid Danang to Lt. General
Lewis W. Walt, Commanding General III Marine Amphibious Force, Danang, RVN, 9
July 1966, ibid.
40. Narcotics in Vietnam, 15 November 1967, bndd, box 164, File Vietnam.
41. Wilbert Penberthy, District Supervisor, No. 16, to Commissioner of Narcotics,
30 November 1967, bndd, box 164, File Vietnam, 19531967; Marijuana, John D. Enright,
Assistant Commissioner, Department of Customs to Mr. Lawrence Fleishman, Assistant
Commissioner, Investigations, Bureau of Customs, 21 March 1967, bndd, box 164,
File Vietnam. Proposed Phases of Implementation of Plan to Expand the Narcotic
Law Enforcement Eort of the National Police, Major Frank W. McBee, CORDS to
John F. Manopoli, 26 November 1968, Oce of Public Safety, Vietnam Division, Narcotics,
box 110, folder 3 (hereafter ops).

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42. Business of Marijuana, Lt. Van Ngu, Head Police Oce, Quang Tri to National
Police Service, Quang Tri, 6 October 1968, ops, Vietnam Division, box 110, folder 5;
Jim Hougan, Spooks: The Haunting of AmericaThe Private Use of Secret Agents
(New York, 1979), 12338; Douglas Valentine, The Phoenix Program (New York, 1991);
Michael McLintock, Instruments of Statecraft: U.S. Guerrilla Warfare, Counter-Insurgency,
and Counter-Terrorism, 19401990 (New York, 1992), 129.
43. Historical NarrativePSD Support of Narcotic Control, Michael G. McCann,
Director ops, Bureau to John Maopoli, Chief Vietnam Division, ops, Oce of the
Assistant Chief of Sta, CORDS, Records of the U.S. Army Vietnam, Personnel Policy
Division, Drug Abuse Programs, box 286, folder 2 (DAP).
44. Drugs in Vietnam USAV Provost Marshall Brieng, DP&P, box 4, folder 2.
45. Captain Howard McLendon, Illegal or Improper Use of Drugs, Department of
the Army, 1 June 1968, DP&P, box 9, folder 6; Major General John H. Cushman, Letter
to be read to each serviceman in the Delta, 28 June 1971, USAV, Criminal Investigation
Division, box 5, folder 1 (hereafter CIB); J. T. Wolkerstorfer, General, Troops Put the Rap
on Drugs, Pacic Stars and Stripes, 6 August 1971, 7.
46. Letter Hanna Browning to Jerry Pettis, 27 January 1972, Records of the U.S. Army
Vietnam, H.Q. USAV, Military Personnel Policy Division, Morale and Welfare Branch
(National Archives, College Park, Md.), box 6, folder 1 (hereafter M&W).
47. On the centrality of chemical defoliation to American counter-insurgency strategy, see Noam Chomsky, For Reasons of State (New York, 1970), 159; Dean Rusk, Memo to
the PresidentDefoliation Operations in Vietnam, 24 November 1961, Papers of President
Kennedy, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda (John F. Kennedy Presidential
Library, Boston), box 332, folderDefoliation Operations in Vietnam.
48. Narcotic Destruction Report, Public Safety Division, 6 July 1971, ops, Vietnam
Division, Narcotic Control, box 112, folder Marijuana Destruction Program; Chief of
Sta Memo, No. 70-104, 30 August 1970, box 110; B. Drummond Ayres, Helicopters and
Television in Suppression Drive, New York Times, 21 September 1969, 1; Ayres, Marijuana
Is Part of the Scene Among gis in Vietnam New York Times, 29 March 1970, 34.
49. Marijuana Suppression, macv, ops, Vietnam Division, Narcotics, box 111,
folder Intelligence; Frank Walton, PSD/CORDS to H. W. Groom, PSD/CORDS,
Re: Monthly Narcotic Bureau Report, August 1969, 5 September 1969.
50. Richard Boyle, U.S. Escalates War against Pot-Heads, The Overseas Weekly,
Pacic Edition, Saturday 30 August 1969, 78, ops, Vietnam Division, Narcotics, box 110,
folder Marijuana Suppression.
51. Cancellation of Rewards for Marijuana Plant Destruction Program, B. Harry
Wynn to Leigh M. Brilliant 9 June 1971, Minutes of CORDS/PS Narcotics Meeting, 25
September 1972, ops, Vietnam Division, Narcotics Control, box 112, folderMarijuana
Destruction Program.
52. On Vanns ideas about accomplishing this task, see John Paul Vann, Harnessing
the Revolution in South Vietnam, 10 September 1965, Francis Fitzgerald Papers, Mugar
Library, Boston University Special Archives, box 9, folderVann, and Neil Sheehans
brilliant biography, A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam
(New York, 1986).
53. Fact SheetMarijuana Suppression, John Paul Vann, Deputy for CORDS,
May 1969, Records of the Agency for International Development, Oce of Public Safety,
Vietnam Division, Narcotics Control (National Archives, College Park, Md.), box 110,

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370 | From Counter-Insurgency to Narco-Insurgency

folder 7; Howard Groom to Michael McCann, Assessment of Hoa-Hao Problem, 17 July
1969, Army Drug Abuse ProgramA Future Model? Drug Abuse Council, 1973 Edward Jay
Epstein Archive, Mugar Library, Boston University, box 12, folder 3 (hereafter EJE)
54. Fact Sheet for Brigadier General Timmenberg in Response to Some Sp.9 Heroin
Detector Dogs July 1971, Records of the U.S. Forces in Southeast Asia, Criminal Investigations Branch (CIB), box 3; Louis Catalanotto, Customs MPs Combat Drugs, Army
Reporter, 6 December 1971, 12, Dog Thwarts Drug Trac, Army Reporter, 1 June 1970.
55. Public Safety Directorate, macv, 30 June 1972, CIB, box 1. Annual Narcotic
Statistical Comparison, Records of the U.S. Forces in Southeast Asia, CIB, box 2, folder 4.
56. Alvin M. Shuster, gi Heroin Addiction is Epidemic in Vietnam, New York Times,
16 May 1971, A1.
57. Amnesty Plan Saves Another, Army Reporter, 15 March 1971, 6; Samuel A. Simon,
gi Addicts: The Catch in Amnesty, The Nation, 4 October 1971; Daniel Southerland,
How Army Helps gis Quit Drugs, Christian Science Monitor, 18 June 1971, 7; Dr. Richard
S. Wilbur, The Battle Against Drug Dependency Within the Military, Journal of Drug
Issues (Winter 1974), 1131; Correspondence Col. Bill Hart and Dr. Tom Robbins, Walter
Reed Medical Museum Archives, audiotape 102-5, 4 July 1971.
58. Memo for Michael McCann, attn. Howard Groom, Special Telephone Line, 9
September 1971, ops, Vietnam, Narcotics Control, box 111, folder 3.
59. SP/4, Mike St. John, Drug Booklet Distribution, U.S. Army Vietnam, 9-67-71,
Information Oce, Headquarters, U.S. Army Vietnam, APO San Francisco 96375, DP&P,
box 4, folder 3; Donald Louria, Nightmare Drugs (New York, 1966), 49; Gabriel Nahas,
MarihuanaDeceptive Weed (New York, 1973).
60. Vung Tau Recreational Center for Troop Morale, Jack J. Wagsta, Major General
USA Commanding, to Lieutenant William J. McCarey, 29 July 1971, Records of the U.S.
Army Vietnam, Military Personnel, Policy Division, M&W, box 13, folder 1.
61. Sammy Davis Visit as Part of Drug Education Field Team for macv, John K.
Singlaub to General William McCarey, Deputy Commanding General, 12 April 1972,
U.S. Forces in Southeast Asia, DP&P, box 2, folder 11 (Personal Paper les); Memo,
John Ingersoll, bndd to Jerey Donfeld, Re: Sammy Davis Jr. Vietnam Trip, 31 August 1971,
EJE, box 14, folder 7.
62. See Jerry Rubin, An Emergency Letter to my Brothers and Sisters in the
Movement, New York Review, 13 February 1969, 27; Terry Anderson, The CounterCulture, in The Movement and the Sixties (New York, 1995), 241.
63. See Robert Dallek, Partners in Power: Nixon and Kissinger (New York, 2007);
Richard M. Nixon, What Has Happened to America? Readers Digest (October 1967), 50;
Robert Mason, Richard Nixon and the Quest for a New Majority (Chapel Hill, 2004); Kevin
Phillips, The Emerging Republican Majority (New York, 1970).
64. Richard M. Nixon, Republican National Committee, 17 September 1968, LEN
13-3, Sta Papers on Drug Abuse, box 12, folder 4 (National Archives, College Park, Md.).
65. See Kate Doyle, Operation Intercept: The Perils of Unilateralism, National
Security Archive, http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv.
66. Department of Inter-American Aairs, telegram, 14 November 1969, Country
Analysis and Strategy Paper, Department of State, National Archive, Record Group 59,
NSA, Operation intercept, document 18; The Mexican Connection, Hearings Before the
Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency, U.S. Senate, 95th Cong., 10 February
1978 (Washington, D.C., 1978); Narcotics Control in Mexico: Environmental Analysis of

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Eects, Bureau of International Narcotics Matters, April 1979 (Washington, D.C., 1979);
Ricardo Vargas Meza, Democracy, Human Rights, and Militarism in the War on Drugs in
Latin America (Washington, D.C., 1997).
67. John C. McWilliams, Through the Past Darkly: The Politics and Policies
of Americas Drug Wars, in William O. Walker III, ed., Drug Control Policy: Essays in
Historical and Comparative Perspective (University Park, Pa., 1992), 22; Epstein, Agency of
Fear: Opiates and Political Power (New York, 1977).
68. Personal interview, Dr. Jerome H. Jae, 24 February 2005 (telephone).
69. The Drug Problem in the Armed Forces, Henry A. Kissinger Memo to Secretary
of Defense, 1 June 1970, The White House, Nixon Presidential Materials, National Security
Files (National Archives, College Park, Md.), box 807 (hereafter NSF).
70. See Egil Krogh, Heroin Politics and Policy under Nixon, in One Hundred Years
of Heroin, ed. David Musto (New Haven, 1999), 39.
71. RNs Identication with the Drug War, Egil Krogh to Jeb Magruder, Nixon
Presidential Materials, Egil Krogh Papers, box 3, folder 1 (hereafter EKP).
72. Vietnam, Egil Krogh to John Ehrlichman, 15 September 1970, EKP, box 3.
73. Morgan F. Murphy and Robert H. Steele, The World Heroin Problem, Report
of the Special Study Mission, 92nd Cong., 1st sess., 27 May 1971 (Washington, D.C., 1971);
Shrinking the Drug Specter Time, 9 August 1971, 21.
74. Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, with Nina Adams and
Leonard P. Reed (New York, 1972), See also Felix Belair, House Team Asks Army to Cure
Addicts, New York Times, 28 May 1971, 4; Murphy, When 30,000 gis Are Using Heroin,
How Can You Fight a War? An Interview with Representative Morgan Murphy, May 21,
1971 Drug Forum, October 1971.
75. Edmund Muskie, A War Against Heroin, Speech Before the New Hampshire
Bar Association, Bretton Woods, 18 June 1971, Edmund Muskie Papers, Lewiston, Me., box
1789, folder 3. Also McGovern Calls War on Drugs a Casualty of the Indo-China War,
18 September 1972, Nixon Presidential Materials, EKP, box 32, folder 3.
76. Congressional Record, 26 July 1972, cia Files (National Archives, College, Park,
Md.), approved for release, 2001/03/04.
77. Statement of Hon. Seymour Halpern, in Military Drug Abuse, Hearings Before
the Subcommittee on Alcoholism and Narcotics of the Committee on Labor and Public
Welfare, U.S. Senate, 1st sess., 9 June 1971 (Washington, D.C., 1971), 531.
78. Memorandum for Bud Krogh to Donald Rumsfeld, The White House, 25 May
1971, Nixon Presidential Materials, EKP (National Archives), box 32, folder 6.
79. Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia (New York, 1972);
Narcotics: McCoys Testimony Before the Senate, G. McMurtrie Godley, American
Embassy Vientiane to Secretary of State, 5 June 1972, ops, Laos, box 113, folder 3; Harpers
to Show cia Proofs of New Book on Asian Drug Trac, Publishers Weekly, 31 July 1972;
Lawrence R. Houston, General Counsel, cia, to Mr. B. Brooke Thomas, 5 July 1972, cia
declassied documents (National Archives, College Park, Md.), RDP80-0160, 2001/03/04.
80. Don Schanche, Mister Pop (New York, 1970), 120; John Prados, Safe for Democracy:
The Secret Wars of the cia (Chicago, 2006), 359; Douglas Blaufarb, The Counter-Insurgency
Era: U.S. Doctrine and Performance (New York, 1977), 151.
81. The Agencys Brief and The Author Responds, Harpers, October 1972,
11619; U.S. Senate, Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with respect to
Intelligence Activities, 94th Cong., 2nd sess., Foreign and Military Intelligence, Book 1:

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372 | From Counter-Insurgency to Narco-Insurgency

Final Report (Washington, D.C., 1974), 57, 22931; William E. Colby, Letters to the
EditorThe cia Responds, Washington Star, 5 July 1972.
82. Meeting August 3, 1971, Request for Executive Session Appearance of the
Attorney General Re Alleged Involvement of South Vietnamese Ocials in Drug Trac,
EKP, box 32, folder 2.
83. Drugs Egil Krogh to John Ehrlichman, 14 May 1971, EKP, box 32, folder 2.
84. SummaryNarcotics Meeting, State Dining Room, 3 June 1971, EKP, box 11,
folder 3.
85. Meeting with President and Top Civilian Leaders, Memorandum Richard M.
Nixon to Melvin R. Laird, 3 June 1971, EKP, box 32, folderDrug Abuse.
86. Stuart R. Carlin, Mass Urinalysis Started, Army Reporter, 25 October 1971, 3;
10,000 gis Checked Daily for Heroin Addiction in Viet, Pacic Stars and Stripes, 3 June
1972, 7; Drug Abuse Fighter: Jerome Herbert Jae, New York Times, 18 June 1971, 22.
87. Veterans Administration, Drug and Alcohol Dependency Program, FY 1973,
House of Representatives, July 1973 (Washington, D.C., 1973); Drug Use in America
Problem in Perspective, II, Social Responses to Drug Use (Washington, D.C., 1973),
Hearings Before the Special Subcommittee on Drug Abuse in the Armed Services on
H.R 9503, House of Representatives, Committee on Armed Services, 12 October 1971
(Washington, D.C., 1971), 7543.
88. gi Drug Abuse in Europe, Memo Jerey Donfeld to Jerome H. Jae,
14 December 1972, EJE, box 9, folder 9; Urinalysis, Detoxication and Discharge, Dr.
Jae to Richard S. Wilbur, 18 January 1973, ibid.; gi Drug Abuse in Europe, Richard
Harkness to Egil Krogh, 5 December 1972, ibid.
89. Drug Abuse Program: A Future Model? New York, 1973, EJE, box 16, folder 2.
90. Dr. Richard S. Wilbur, Press Conference, A Follow Up of Vietnam Drug
Users, Department of Defense, Department of the Army, Office of the Deputy Chief
of Staff for Operations, U.S. Army audiovisual center (National Archives, College
Park, Md.).
91. Gerald Nicosia, Home to War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans Movement
(New York: Crown Press, 2001), 179. Robert Reinhold, Armys Drug Testing Program Stirs
Sharp Dispute, New York Times, 2 June 1972, 1.
92. Paul Starr, Drug (Mis)Treatment for gis, Washington Post, 16 July 1972, B1;
Clinton R. Sanders, Dopers Wonderland: Functional Drug Use Among Soldiers in
Vietnam, Journal of Drug Issues (October 1973): 74.
93. Bob Spencer and Carol Spencer, Abusing Drug Abusers: The Military Solution,
Civil Liberties, November 1971; Correspondence Col. Bill Hart and Dr. Tom Robbins,
Walter Reed Medical Museum Archives, audiotape 1025, 14 July 1971; Colonel John R.
Castellot, Chief Drug Operations Center, USA Health Services Group, Vietnam, Theory
and Practice in Drug Treatment from Chaplain Vantage Point Department of the Army,
U.S. Army Drug Treatment Center Long Binh, 25 May 1972, DP&P, box 1, folder 4; Personal
interview, William Leary, 24 January 2004 (Revere, Mass.).
94. In Starr, Drug (Mis)Treatment for gis, Washington Post, 16 July 1972, B1.
95. See, for example, Stanford Garellek to President Richard M. Nixon, Drug Letters,
Memo for Bob Haldeman, Chuck Colson, and Egil Krogh, 18 June 1971, Nixon Presidential
Materials, Oce Files, box 12, folderJuly 1971.

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96. See Tom Wells, The War Within: Americas Battle Over Vietnam (Berkeley and Los
Angeles, 1994); Larry Berman, No Peace, No Honor: Nixon, Kissinger and Betrayal in Vietnam
(New York, 2001); Seymour Hersh, The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House
(New York, 1983). On Nixons murderous record in Laos and Cambodia, see in particular
William Shawcross, Sideshow: Nixon, Kissinger and the Destruction of Cambodia (New York,
1979); Ben Kiernan, How Pol Pot Came to Power (New Haven, 1985); Alfred W. McCoy, ed.
Laos: War and Revolution (New York); Noam Chomsky, At War with Asia (New York, 1970).
97. Joan-Ho, Nixon Reconsidered (New York, 1994); Melvin Small, The Presidency
of Richard Nixon (Lawrence, Kans., 1999); Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes, ed.
Stanley Kutler (New York, 1997).
98. See, for example, David Greenberg, Nixons Shadow: The History of an Image
(New York, 2003); Allen J. Matusow, The Unraveling of America: A History of Liberalism in the
1960s (New York, 1984); Donald T. Critchlow, Phyllis Schlay and Grassroots Conservatism
(Princeton, 2005); Godfrey Hodgson, The World Turned Right Side Up: A History of the
Conservative Ascendancy in America (Boston, 1996).
99. See Jerey Kimball, Nixons Vietnam War (Lawrence, Kans., 2001); Henry
Kissinger, Vietnam Negotiations, Foreign Aairs (January 1969); Jeremi Suri, Power and
Protest: Global Revolution and the Rise of Dtente (Cambridge, Mass., 2003), 242.
100. For an excellent analysis of the political function of the anticorruption campaign,
see Chomsky and Herman, Saigons Corruption Crisis: The Search for an Honest Quisling,
Ramparts, December 1975, 23.
101. For exposs on Thieus abysmal human rights record, see Jack Anderson,Prisoners
Tortured in South Vietnamese Jails, Washington Post, 31 August 1970, B11; Don Luce and
Holmes Brown, Hostages of War: Saigons Political Prisoners, Indochina Mobile Education
Project, 1973, 14.
102. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) quoted in Stanley Millet, ed., South Vietnam: U.S.
Communist Confrontation in Southeast Asia, vol. 3, 1968; Foreign Relations of the United
States, 196976, vol. 6, Vietnam, January 1969 to July 1970 (Washington, D.C., 2006), 32. See
also William J. Lederer, The Anguished American (London, 1968).
103. Foreign Assistance Act of 1971 (Washington, D.C., 1971), 296.
104. Drugs and Smuggling, Department of State Telegram; Saigon (National Archives,
College Park, Md.), U.S. Special Forces in Southeast Asia, box 11, folder 3.
105. Summary of Vietnam CablesDrugs, May 1971, Department of State Telegram,
070626, U.S. Special Forces in Southeast Asia (National Archives, College Park, Md.), box
11, folder 3; Memo for Bud Krogh, Indo-Chinese Ocials Removed or Shifted as a Result
of Investigations in Drug Tracking, 3 August EKP, box 30, folder 5; GVN Reorganizes
Attack on Drugs and Smuggling, American Embassy Saigon to Department of State, 8 July
1971, DP&P, box 286, folder 2.
106. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin: cia Complicity in the Global Narcotics Trade (New
York, 2004); Father Tran Huu Thanh, Indictment #1: The Peoples Front Against Corruption
for National Salvation and for Building Peace, Letter from Vietnam, Hue, September 1974,
Douglas Pike Archive, Texas Tech University Vietnam Center, www.vietnam.ttu.edu.
107. Quoted in Vietnam and Korea: Human Rights and U.S. Assistance, A Study Mission
Report of the Committee on Foreign Aairs, U.S. House of Representatives (Washington,
D.C., 1975), 78; see also James Hamilton Paterson, The Greedy War (New York, 1971), 155.

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374 | From Counter-Insurgency to Narco-Insurgency

108. Historical NarrativePSD Support of Narcotic Control, Michael G. McCann,
Director ops, Bureau to John Maopoli, Chief Vietnam Division, ops, Oce of the Assistant
Chief of Sta, CORDS, DP&P, box 286, folder 2.
109. Nelson Gross, Bilateral and Multilateral Eorts to Intensify Drug Abuse Control
Programs, Department of State Bulletin, 3 April 1972 (DEA Library, International Control
on Narcotics folder, 196175); Peter Osnos, U.S. Presses Saigon into War on Smuggling,
Los Angeles Times, 27 May 1971, 2.
110. Antinarcotics Campaign in Viet-Nam, Department of State Bulletin, 3 April
1972, 508 (DEA Library, Pentagon City, Va.), International Narcotics Control folder; jnid
Raids, macv, Vietnam, box 12, folder 1; Joint Narcotics Investigation Detachment, macv
Directive 190-4, Vietnam folder (National Archives, College Park, Md.), box 12, folder 1;
Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture: cia Interrogation from the Cold War to the War
on Terror (New York, 2006).
111. jnid Conscations, July 1, 1971 to May 31, 1972, HQUSARV, DP&P, box 36,
folder 7; Search and DestroyThe War on Drugs, Time, 4 September 1972; Nelson Gross,
Bilateral and Multilateral Eorts to Intensify Drug Abuse Control Programs, Department
of State Bulletin, 3 April 1972 (DEA Library, International Control on Narcotics folder,
112. Peter Jay, Saigon Launches Narcotics Drive, Washington Post, 1 May 1971, A10
Translation Catalog SheetRVN Anti-Drug Suppression Campaign at Bien Hoa, 6 May
1971, DP&P, box 6, folder 2.
113. Decree Law No. 008/TT/SLU on the Eradication of Toxic Narcotic and
Dangerous Substances, promulgated by President Thieu: The U.S. Heroin Problem and
South East Asia: Report of a Sta Survey Team of the Committee on Foreign Aairs, House
of Representatives, December 1972 (Washington, D.C., 1972), 85; Thieu Orders Death for
Drug Pushers, Washington Post, 14 August 1972, A17.
114. Department of State Telegram, American embassy, Saigon, to E.A. Drug
Coordinator, 13 October 1972, ops, Vietnam, Narcotics Control, box 112, folder 8.
115. Anti-Drug Advertisements, Army Criminal Investigation Files, DP&P, box 7,
folder 1.
116. Interview with Nguyen Cao Ky, The Listener, 24 November 1977. See also Ky,
How We Lost the Vietnam War (New York, 1976).
117. See Daniel Fineman, A Special Relationship: The United States and Military
Governments in Thailand, 19471958 (Honolulu, 1997); Surachert Bamrungsuk, U.S. Foreign
Policy and Thai Military Rule, 19471977 (Bangkok, 1988).
118. Proposals for Increased Anti-Narcotics Assistance to Thailand, Johnson F.
Munroe, Deputy Director, O.P.S. to Nelson Gross, 27 September 1971, ops, Thailand,
Narcotics Control, box 212, folder 1; Byron Engle, director public safety to Philip Batson,
assistant director public safety, 17 March 1972, ibid.
119. aid Inuence in Law Enforcement Community, Memo Egil Krogh to Byron
Engle, Jack Caueld, Gordon Liddy, EKP, box 3, folder 2.
120. Roger Ernst, Director U.S. Operations, Mission Bangkok Thailand, to Joe W.
Johnson, Audit Manager, Bangkok Oce, Far-East Bureau, 3 October 1973, ops, Thailand,
Narcotics Control, box 212, folder 1; Lobe, U.S. National Security Policy and Aid to the
Thailand Police (Denver, 1977); U.S. Police Assistance for the Third World (Ph.D diss.,
University of Michigan, 1975).

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121. Southeast Asian Narcotics, Hearings Before the Select Committee on Narcotics
Abuse and Control, House of Representatives, 95th Cong., 1st sess., 1213 July 1977
(Washington, D.C., 1978), 23. On the human rights abuses of the Thai regime under
Thanom Kittikachorn, see Chomsky and Herman, The Political Economy of Human Rights:
The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism (Boston, 1979), 22225.
122. Pramuan Case Linked to Foreign Aid Bill, Department of State Telegram, American
embassy Bangkok, to Secretary of State, 15 November 1972, American Agency for International
Development, ops, box 212, folder 3; Summaries of Recent Thai language Press, American
Embassy Bangkok, to Secretary of State, Washington, D.C., 5 October 1972, ibid.
123. The U.S. Heroin Problem in Southeast Asia, 41; The Task Forces of Thailand
and Laos, Drug Enforcement Magazine (Fall 1973): 17; Talking Points for Thailand
Narcotics Action Control to Interagency Working Group on Narcotics Control from
Harriet Isom, EA Drug Control Coordinator, 1973, ops, Thailand, Narcotics, box 212,
folder 1; American Embassy Bangkok to Secretary of State, February 1973 Narcotics:
Police Training Advisors, ibid.
124. See Clyde R. McAvoy, The Diplomatic War on Heroin, Journal of Drug Issues
(Spring 1977): 16379; Capture of Lo-Hsing Han, American Embassy Rangoon to
Department of State, 25 July 1973, General Records of the Department of State, 197073,
Thailand (National Archives, College Park, Md.), box 3056, folder 1; Narcotics,
Department of State Bulletin, 3 April 1972, 507 (DEA Library, Pentagon City, Va.),
International Control folder.
125. William P. Delaney, On Capturing an Opium King: The Politics of Lo Hsing
Hans Arrest, in Drugs and Politics, ed. Paul E. Rock (New Brunswick, N.J., 1977), 67;
Alfred W. McCoy, Requiem for a Drug Lord: State and Commodity in the Career of Khun
Sa, in States and Illegal Practices, ed. Josiah McHeyman (New York, 1999).
126. Cabinet Committee on International Narcotics Control, World Opium Survey
(Washington, D.C: September 1972), Congressional Record, 6 May 1975, International
Control folder, 196175 (DEA Library, Pentagon City, Va.); Proposals for Increased AntiNarcotics Assistance in Thailand, Johnson F. Munroe, Deputy Director, ops to Nelson
Gross, 27 September 1971, ops, Thailand, Narcotics Control, box 212, folder 1. On broader
economic development programs, see Robert Packenham, Liberal America and the Third
World: Political Development Ideas in Foreign Aid (Princeton, 1973).
127. Ronald D. Renard, Opium Reduction in Thailand, 19702000: A 30-Year Journey
(Bangkok, 2001), 7582.
128. See, for example, Opium Production and Movement in Southeast Asia:
Intelligence Report, Directorate of Intelligence, cia Files (National Archives, College
Park, Md.), approved for release, 2001/09/04; Daniel Fineman, A Special Relationship, 133.
Fineman likens this failed reinvasion to an Asian Bay of Pigs.
129. NarcoticsKriangsak Proposal, American embassy Bangkok to Secretary of
State, 5 December 1971, Research and Development Thailand (National Archives, College
Park, Md.) box 3099 (hereafter R&D Thailand); The Narcotics Situation in Southeast Asia:
Report of a Special Study Mission by Lester Wol, JanuaryFebruary 1973 (Washington,
D.C., 1973), 5; Jack Anderson, Thai Opium Bonre Mostly Fodder, Washington Post,
31 July 1972, B11.
130. On these events, in which Kittakchorns security arm massacred student protestors,
see E. Thadeus Flood, The United States and the Military Coup in Thailand: A Background

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Study, Indochina Resource Center, 1976; Ben Anderson, Withdrawal Symptoms: Social and
Cultural Aspects of the October 6 Coup, Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars (October 1977).
131. Wayland Speer to Harry J. Anslinger, Opium Smuggling in Vietnam January
14, 1957, bndd, box 164, File Vietnam, Roger Warner, Backre: The cias Secret War in
Laos and its Link to the Vietnam War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), 254. See
also David Corn, Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the cias Crusades (New York, 1994),
14850; Tom Robbins, Air America: The Story of the cias Airlines (New York, 1979);
Dr. Charles Weldon, Tragedy in Paradise: A Country Doctor at War in Laos (Bangkok,
1999), 18485.
132. See, for example, Sheldon B. Vance, International Narcotics Control: A
High Priority Program, Department of State Bulletin, 27 January 1975 (DEA Library:
International Control folder, 196175).
133. American Embassy Vientiane to Secretary of State, Washington D.C., 28
November 1971, Research and Development, Laos (National Archives, College Park, Md.),
box 3075, folder 6 (hereafter R&D); Narcotic Law, American Embassy Vientiane to
Secretary of State, Washington, D.C., 27 August 1971, Records of the Department of State,
197073, Laos (National Archives, College Park, Md.), box 3075.
134. Joseph Westermeyer, Poppies, Pipes and People: Opium and Its Uses in Laos
(Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1982), 18; Use of Alcohol and Opium by the Meo of Laos,
American Journal of Psychiatry (June 1971): 101923; Thomas Szasz, Ceremonial Chemistry:
The Ritual Persecution of Drug Addicts and Pushers (Syracuse, 1974), 48.
135. John Everingham, The Golden Triangle Trade, Asia Magazine, 23 March 1975, 28;
The Task Forces of Thailand and Laos, Drug Enforcement Magazine (Fall 1973), 17.
136. The U.S. Heroin Problem in Southeast Asia, Report of a Sta Survey Team of
the Committee on Foreign Aairs, House of Representatives, December 1972 (Washington,
D.C., 1972), 28.
137. Narcotics Control, American Embassy Vientiane to Secretary of State,
Washington, D.C. 1972, R&D, Laos, box 3075; Report on Completion of Phase 2, Laos
Narcotics Control, box 1, folder 3; U.S. Leads Global War on Drug Abuse, Current
Foreign Policy, Department of State Medical Services, DEA Library, International Control,
196175 folder.
138. Joseph Westermeyer, The Pro-Heroin Eects of Anti-Opium Laws in Asia,
Archives of General Psychiatry (September 1976): 1136.
139. Oce of the Auditor General, Narcotics ControlLaos, box 1, folder 3;
Joseph Westermeyer, Methadone: An Orientation to Its Medical Uses, Public Health
Division, usaid Laos, March 1972.
140. Methadone, American Embassy Vientiane to Secretary of State, April 1972,
R&D, Laos, box 3075; Meeting with Dr. Jae, Narcotics White House SAODAP, Narcotics
ControlLaos, box 1, folder 3; Shipment of Methadone HCL for Laos Rehabilitation
Program, American embassy Vientiane to Secretary of State, Washington, D.C.,
June 1972, ibid.
141. Arnold Abrams, Lao Spies Help War on Opium, Miami Herald, 18 April 1972,
cia Files, RDP80-01601 (National Archives, College Park, Md.), approved for release,
2001/03/04; Michael Parks, cia Reported Shifting Attention in Laos from Communists to
Opium, Baltimore Sun, 13 March 1972, cia Files, RDP80-01601 (National Archives, College
Park, Md.), 2001/03/04.

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jeremy kuzmarov |


142. Opium Substitution eorts in LaosPhu Pha Dang ExperimentationExtension

A Approach, American embassy Vientiane to aid, 1 April 1974, Pha Dang agricultural station Vientiane A128unclassied Narcotics Control, Laos, box 1, folder 3.
143. Politics and Narcotics Control in Laos, American Embassy Vientiane to
Secretary of State, 11 October, R&D, Laos, box 3076, folder 2.
144. Edward Kennedy to John Hannah, 13 July 1973, Narcotics Control Laos, box 1,
folder 3. On the general devastation of the air war, see Fred Branfman, Voices from the Plain
of Jars: Life Under an Air War (New York, 1972); Letter to Henry Kissinger, Walter Haney,
Fa Ngun School, June 1972, Nixon Presidential Materials, National Security Council Files,
HAK, Henry A. Kissinger (National Archives, College Park, Md.), box 13, folder 4.
145. Trip ReportLaos, February 710, 1973, Memo from Ogden Williams to Robert
Nooter, Narcotics ControlLaos, box 1, folder 3.
146. See, for example, Paul Cecil, Herbicidal Warfare (New York, 1986); Neilands et al.,
Harvest of Death: Chemical Warfare in Vietnam and Cambodia (New York, 1972); Barry
Weisberg, ed., Ecocide in Indo-China: The Ecology of War (San Francisco, 1970).
147. McCoy, Laos: War and Revolution (New York, 1970), 125.
148. Harold Levin to Charles Mann, Director usaid, Chief Lao Desk, 24 June 1971,
Narcotics Control, Laos, box 1, folder 5; Discussion with Minister of Justice on Narcotics,
American Embassy Vientiane to Secretary of State, Washington, D.C., May 1974, Narcotics
Control, Laos, box 1, folder 4.
149. John Everingham, The Golden Triangle Trade, Asia Magazine, 23 March 1975.
150. Fox Buttereld, Laos Opium Country Resisting Drug Law, New York Times,
16 October 1972, 12; John Finlator, The Drugged Nation: A Narcs Story (New York,
1973), 127.
151. Anti-Narcotics Legislation/Permits for Cultivation, G. McMurtrie Godley to
Honorable William Sullivan, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Department of State, 9 June 1971
RDS, Laos, box 3075.
152. Drug Abuse Program: A Future Model? (New York, 1973) EJE, box 16, folder 2, 32.
153. Post-War Southeast AsiaA Search for Neutrality and Independence,
Report by Senator Mike Mansfield, Committee on Foreign Relations (Washington,
D.C., 1976).
154. On social dislocation and the black market economy in particular, see, for example, Frances Fitzgerald, Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam
(Boston, 1972); Civilian Casualties and Refugee Problems in South Vietnam, Committee
on the Judiciary, 9 May 1968 (Washington, D.C., 1968).
155. Army Criminal Investigation Division Report, June 1972, CIB, box 1, folder 3.
See also Jack Anderson, Saigon Dope Dealers Riding High, Washington Post,
30 December 1972, B11.
156. Henry Kamm, Drive Fails to Halt Drug Sale in Vietnam, New York Times,
30 August 1971, 1; Alleged Corrupt Practices of Nguyen Huy Thong, Chief, Narcotics
Bureau, Frank Walton to Charles Vopat, 31 March 1971, ops, Narcotic Control, Vietnam,
box 112, folder 4.
157. Quoted in Mitchell Satchell, U.S. Drug Reports Dier, Washington Star-News,
16 August 1972, 3.
158. Frank Snepp, Decent Interval (New York, 1977), 14; John Prados, The Hidden
History of the Vietnam War (Chicago, 1995), 68; Valentine, The Phoenix Program, 409.

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159. See Michael Flamm, Law and Order: Street Crime, Civil Unrest, and the Crisis
of Liberalism in the 1960s (New York, 2005).
160. Memorandum for Egil Krogh, Indo-Chinese Ocials Removed or Shifted as
a Result of Investigations in Drug Tracking, 3 August 1971, EKP, box 32, folder 2. See
also Meeting August 3, 1971, Request for Executive Session Appearance of the Attorney
General Re Alleged Involvement of South Vietnamese Ocials in Drug Trac, ibid.
161. Senator McGovern and Drugs, 31 July1972, EKP, box 32, folder 2.
162. Robert B. Semple Jr., Nixon Says He Kept Vow to Check Rise in Crime,
New York Times, 16 October 1972, 1; John Finlator, The Drugged Nation: A Narcs Story
(New York, 1973), 321.
163. See as an emblematic article, U.S. Losing Smuggler War, Chicago Daily News,
7 June 1975, in Federal Drug Enforcement, Hearings Before the Permanent Subcommittee
of Investigations of the Committee on Government Operations, U.S. Senate, 94th Cong.,
1st sess., June 1975 (Washington, D.C., 1975), 111; John Finlator, The Drugged Nation: A Narcs
Story (New York, 1973), 321; ODonnell et al., Young Men and Drugs: A Nationwide Survey
(Washington, D.C., 1974), 59.
164. See, for example, Ted G. Carpenter, Bad Neighbor Policy: Washingtons Futile War
on Drugs in Latin America (Washington, D.C., 2004); Christina J. Johns, Power, Ideology,
and the War on Drugs: Nothing Succeeds Like Failure (New York, 1992); Douglas Stokes,
Americas Other War: Terrorizing Colombia, foreword by Noam Chomsky (London, 2005).

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