Sunday Morning Think Piece:
"The Problem isn't too few M-16's,
The Problem is too much money"
In response to, or maybe I should say in addition to, what the 20:43 "Love Him or Leave Him, con't" writer on Feb 14th contributed about "Operation Somalia" and the crack epidemic centralized in Los Angeles a few years back, I would like to include some other information that was important at the time and could be of urgent importance today as we are about to move into Iraq.
Before I begin I should say that the name of the outline drafted by the author (which I did not know at that time was African American, but maybe that fact is not important) was not "Operation Somalia". As I recall it was simply titled, "Somalia". As a Senior Executive with DEA at that time I was asked to review the portion of "Somalia" that involved narcotics. And having served in Vietnam during the war as a narcotics agent my input was particularly sought from that perspective.
Although Somalia offered unlimited strategic potential from a geographical point of view, that country also offered a native narcotic that posed a serious addictive and incapacitating problem for American troops who would be based there over extended periods of time. And although Somalia, like most Muslim/Islamic country's that practice a singular form of religion, generations of exposure to a native narcotic was not only generally accepted as legal to use openly, it was often integrated into many social and religious ceremonies.
Unlike Vietnam where every narcotic under the sun was widely and cheaply available -- by enemy design -- to American troops (1), Somalian "khat" appeared to be the predominant drug of choice. However, as correctly pointed out by "Somalia's" author, because Americans have always demonstrated a hunger for greater and more dangerous stimulation once exposed to a passive narcotic, khat would eventually be replaced by stronger narcotics that were readily available within only a border or two distance. And this is where the author's recommendations in this section of "Somalia" paid in dividends.
It was noted in "Somalia" that we lost the war in Vietnam not because our superior military was unable to fully contain or neutralize a far inferior enemy's presence or aggression, but because U.S. military rooted corruption, spread across the entire Southeast Asian theater, rendered all of our military operations useless, worthless, ineffective. Narcotics related corruption that fueled the blackmarket and enemy supply chains in Vietnam made it impossible for South Vietnam's first president, Diem, to succeed, leading to his assassination (2), and severely crippled all of South Vietnam's succeeding presidents. By 1972 the deeply entrenched narcotics industry controlling the blackmarket had not only completely overshadowed Vietnam's legitimate economy -- at the very least not permitting it to become envied by people in the North --, narcotics money underwrote the bulk of enemy military activity, provided fertile breeding ground for spies on all levels, corrupted government officials and military officers -- ours and theirs--, and eventually found its way into our three largest transport agencies (the Military Airlift Command, the U.S. Post Office and the Bank of America) enabling "dirty G.I.'s" to send millions of dirty dollars and tons of narcotics into the U.S.
Several years before, in 1970, CIA in a desperate attempt to regain control of the Vietnam narcotics and black-markets, and thereby greatly reduce if not eliminate G.I. funding and materiel transfers to enemy forces (3), changed the appearance of MPC (4). It was unfortunate that corruption in our own military's highest ranks leaked our top-top-secret MPC conversion plan to the enemy and its representatives working alongside us but against us. Our failure to de-finance enemy operatives produced exactly the opposite. Criminal activity working against our military effort increased and accelerated. The problem in Vietnam wasn't too few M-16's, the problem was too much MPC.
The resolution to this nightmare, recommended in "Somalia", is simply to eliminate G.I. money altogether. That is, don't distribute pay to U.S. military personnel while they are stationed overseas.
Whether or not "Somalia" is ever taken off the "shelf" and re-activated, American military personnel (in-country and off-shore) participating in all foreign hostile or peacekeeping missions should not be permitted to receive or possess a single dime. To native economies, drug barons and blackmarkets Vietnam proved that the presence of American "greenbacks" or MPC is irrelevant. The problem is Americans possessing currency of any form. Without currency in the pockets of our G.I.'s there can be no viable blackmarket or drug purchases to fund enemy efforts. Nor can there be the attendant problems such as prostitution, venereal disease, and abandoned babies unwanted or discriminated against. American servicewomen will have to pick up the slack in the area of sex (5), but if GW1 can be used as an example, most American female G.I.'s won't complain about this added "duty assignment".
American deployment and/or occupation in Muslim nations, as recommended in "Somalia", must include new, revolutionary, enforceable programs (6) that eliminate our military personnel from possessing either ours or foreign currency that can be used to destabilize local economies and purchase drugs, yet provides them with the minimal toys and sweets to maintain sufficient morale; an objective easily obtainable in an all-volunteer military where the presence of low-morale conscripts requiring greater compensation for unwanted military service is not a current factor.
The benefit for our military personnel goes without saying, every dime they earn while deployed that wasn't redirected for delivery to their family at home will be made available to them instantly upon their arrival back in the States (7). Not only will our military personnel benefit from retaining all they earned, their local communities will benefit when the money is spent at home rather than abroad.
The current Administration has no plan to deal with the common problems resulting from our military personnel being "over sexed, over paid, and over there". Yet, our military presence in devout Muslim nations and our historic export of American vice and Sin is what outrages many Muslims such as Osama bin Laden who resort to terrorism as the most expedient tool to keep us out of their country's. Any extended occupation of Iraq will, predictably, result in serious problems should our occupiers be allowed pocket money.
People with little money by fewer drugs. People with no money buy no drugs. My compliments to "Somalia's" author showing the way that seemingly unsolvable problems created by people can be easily solved when studied by the right people who have the ability to visualize their solution just as a sculptor visualizes his finished masterpiece waiting to be released from inside a block of granite.
Other reports are Archived by The American War Library