In September 2001, before 9/11, Colin Powell was scheduled to arrive in Bogotá, Colombia, to agree plans for ramping up ‘Plan Colombia’ and the previous catch phrase in post cold-war US foreign policy, the ‘war on drugs’. This took somewhat of a backseat in the face of terrorist attacks on US soil, but the reality is sadly that the drugs trade is one key element in this worldwide economy of terror. “Drugs are by far the biggest business, they generate the largest amount of money. The 11th of March for example was funded by hashish selling from Morocco. There is a model there that they’re obviously using which is, if you can get your hands on the drugs trade, you can get your hands on ready supplies of cash. It’s more important definitely than the arms trade”. But just as there’s a reluctance to fully get stuck into banks and offshore facilities in relation to finance, for fear of damaging the engines that drive the capitalist economy, so too a change in direction for drug policy is out of the question, even though Napoleoni, for one, is in no doubt who would be the beneficiaries economically from a legalisation policy: ” From an economic point of view, it would make a huge improvement. Who stands to lose? The terrorists and criminal organisations that profit from the drugs trade. Why don’t we stop the drug trade, legalise all drugs? It’s not possible, because it’s one of the main taboo issues for the right wing. Can you imagine George W. Bush going to tell the Christian right, who represent 1/3rd of his voters, “o.k. we’re going to legalise cocaine!”?”
The bombings in Madrid brought home to Europe the fact that it is equally threatened by terrorism, but while our eyes all remain fixed on Iraq, it’s not the only case of the creation of a shell State, where terrorism flourishes. There are other examples worryingly close to Europe’s borders.”There are shell States in Bosnia and Albania. There are groups that are still active in Afghanistan. We’re presented Afghanistan, particularly after elections, as some sort of Democracy but the reality is that Hamid Kharzai can’t even leave his palace because the place isn’t under control. There are warlords in the North and the Taliban reforming in the South, so none of these experiments in Nation building have actually worked. The implications are immense. Eventually, we’ll have new wars starting, as happened in Yugoslavia. In the meantime, what’s happening is that we’re not being told the real story. Bosnia is not news. I know that in Bosnia you have the situation where they are still fighting and you have places that you can’t go because they’re effectively controlled by armed groups, shell States. You have Ratko Mladic, the leader of the Serbian right, still at large, which is extraordinary, and yet we have none of this on the news. At least not until we have another major event, or outbreak of war, but then it’s too late”.
George W. Bush was, rightly in my opinion, criticised for using the language of “Crusade” in his response to the acts of 9/11. While his use may have been more carelessness than suggesting a paradigm, Napoleoni in fact does see parallels between our situation today and that of the First Crusade launched by Urban II in 1095, but she places the Crusades in an economic framework, with Western Christendom then occupying a position closer to that of Bin Laden than Bush. “This is what I’m writing about now. It’s the answer to Huntingdon’s theory on the ‘clash of civilizations’, in a way. I think the clash of civilizations is very much a sort of alibi for the west: it’s down to religion and culture, therefore we’re not responsible. The presentation of the Crusades as a war of religion is very much a way to justify the fact that Islam had enslaved Europe and was the dominant power, but then to fight them on religious grounds was o.k. In a sense we have a reversal of the situation of the Crusades now, where it’s a clash of two economic systems, as it was then, but the West is now the dominant power. The Crusades were a war of economic liberation against the sole hegemonic power of the time, which was Islam. The same thing is happening today. These people are fighting to control their own resources. Again, if you read Bin Laden, a lot of what he has said is tailored to economics, and he talks to the people, to people who are facing unemployment and high inflation, constantly struggling against the super privileges of this elite, so he’s trying to teach them about their economic rights. Religion is the cover up. It’s the ideological legitimacy; it gives us what we need in order to justify our request, because at the end of the day God is not a Capitalist
Terror Inc: by Loretta Napoleoni is published by Penguin books in the U.K.