The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War, and the International Drug Traffic

The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War, and the International Drug Traffic

The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War, and the International Drug Traffic

The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War, and the International Drug Traffic

Synopsis

Long before Mexico, Colombia, and Afghanistan became notorious for their contributions to the global drug traffic, Lebanon was a special target of U. S. drug agents for harboring the world's greatest single transit port in the international traffic in narcotics. In the words of one American official, "certain of the largest traffickers are so influential politically, and certain highly placed officials so deeply involved in the narcotic traffic, that one might well state that the Lebanese Government is in the narcotics business."

Using previously secret government records, The Lebanese Connection uncovers for the first time the story of how Lebanon's economy and political system were corrupted by drug profits- and how, by financing its many ruthless militia, Lebanon's drug trade contributed to the country's greatest catastrophe, its fifteen-year civil war from 1975 to 1990. In so doing, this book sheds new light on the dangerous role of vast criminal enterprises in the collapse of states and the creation of war economies that thrive in the midst of civil conflicts.

Taking a regional approach to the drug issue, Jonathan Marshall assesses the culpability of Syria, Israel, and of Palestinian factions and other groups that used Lebanon as their battleground. On the international level, he documents Lebanon's contribution to the hard drug problem of major consuming countries, from the days of the "French Connection" through the "Pizza Connection," as well as Lebanon's unrivaled place in the global hashish market.

Excerpt

You can’t have any power in Lebanon, whether military or political,
if you don’t profit from drugs
.

U.S. drug enforcement officer. Nicosia

ALTHOUGH JUST A TINY SLIVER OF A COUNTRY, Lebanon is recognized worldwide not only for its rich cultural heritage and thriving diaspora but also for its tragic destiny. Before the Balkan wars brought the terrors of political collapse and mass murder to the doorstep of Western Europe, Lebanon provided a frightening illustration of how quickly modern civilization can descend into barbarism. Once an envied Arab model of democracy, pluralism, and affluence, Lebanon plunged seemingly overnight into civil war in 1975. It shocked the world with images of raw savagery and senseless destruction. When hostilities finally ended in 1990, the country had suffered $25 billion in damages, the emigration of more than half a million people, and the deaths of about 150,000 out of about 3.5 million inhabitants. That would be equal, proportionately, to more than twelve million dead in the United States.

Lebanon did not suffer alone. Its civil war became a de facto regional conflict that sucked in neighboring Israel and Syria, along with Iraq, Iran, and Libya; the United States and France; and even the Soviet Union. It also became a demoralizing object lesson for the United States, in the wake of the Vietnam debacle, of a superpower’s impotence in the face of determined local adversaries.

Long before the onset of civil war, however, Lebanon was already a leading contributor to another source of international conflict: the “war on drugs” Decades ago it became one of the world’s major exporters of opiates and hashish to international markets. In the process it was corrupted by the trade as much as it profited.

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