Saturday, March 29, 2008


Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Chapter 4: Problems of Population Control Segment 7/11
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As the drug war proceeded, opposition to tobacco exports began to receive some attention. In April 1990, Dr. James Mason, Assistant Secretary for Health, declared that it was "unconscionable for the mighty transnational tobacco companies -- and three of them are in the United States -- to be peddling their poison abroad, particularly because their main targets are less-developed countries." A few weeks later, however, he cancelled a scheduled appearance before a congressional hearing on the matter, while the Department of Health and Human Services "backed away from its past criticism of efforts to open new markets for American cigarettes around the world." The Department said that "the issue was one of trade, not health," Philip Hilts reported in the New York Times. A Department spokesman explained that Dr. Mason's appearance was cancelled for that reason. Citing the trade figures, another official described Mason's criticism of tobacco exports as "an unwelcome intrusion on the Administration's efforts to open new cigarette markets," particularly in Thailand, Hilts reported further. Meanwhile U.S. Trade Representative Carla Hills dismissed Thai protests about U.S. imperialists thrusting cancer sticks upon them, saying, "I don't see how health concerns can enter the picture if the people are smoking their own cigarettes."35

Or, by the same logic, smoking their own crack. In our passion for free trade, then, we should surely allow the Medell¡n cartel to export cocaine freely to the United States, to advertise it to young people without constraint, and to market it aggressively.

Others continued to voice objections. In an open letter to Colombian president Virgilio Barco, Peter Bourne, who was Director of the Office of Drug Abuse Policy in the Carter administration, wrote that "perhaps nothing so reflects on Washington's fundamental hypocrisy on [the drug] issue as the fact that while it rails against the adverse effects of cocaine in the United States, the number of Colombians dying each year from subsidized North American tobacco products is significantly larger than the number of North Americans felled by Colombian cocaine." The Straits Times in Singapore found it "hard to reconcile the fact that the Americans are threatening trade sanctions against countries that try to keep out U.S. tobacco products" with U.S. efforts to reduce cigarette smoking at home (let alone its efforts to bar import of illicit drugs) -- a surprising failure to perceive the clear difference between significant and insignificant nations, to borrow some neoconservative rhetoric.36

The American Medical Association also condemned trade policies that ignore health problems, estimating that some 2.5 million excessive or premature deaths per year are attributable to tobacco -- about 5% of all deaths. At a World Conference on Lung Health in May 1990, former Surgeon General Koop, noting that U.S. tobacco exports had risen 20% the preceding year while smoking dropped 5% in the U.S., again called the export of tobacco "a moral outrage" and denounced it as "the height of hypocrisy" to call on other governments to stop the export of cocaine "while at the same time we export nicotine, a drug just as addictive as cocaine, to the rest of the world." In Taiwan, Koop said, the government had been able to cut smoking drastically by an antismoking campaign, until Washington threatened trade sanctions in 1987, leading to a 10% rise in smoking. "America better stop being a drug pusher if we expect to have any credibility in our war on drugs," Congressman Chester Atkins said at a news conference. Public health experts warned of a "global epidemic" from tobacco-related deaths as a result of the surge in overseas sales, now one-sixth of U.S. production, predicting that the death toll will rise to 12 million annually by mid-21st century. Speaking for the government, the USTR spokesman repeated that the matter is simply one of free trade: "Our question is basically one of fairness." Coverage was again slight.37

Thatcher's England was not far behind. The alternative press reported a London Sunday Times exposé of a multimillion dollar marketing drive by British American Tobacco (BAT) to sell cheap and highly addictive cigarettes in Africa -- an easy, regulation-free market -- with levels of tar and nicotine far above those permitted in the West. A corporation letter to the country's head of medical services stated that "BAT Uganda does not believe that cigarette smoking is harmful to health...[and] we should not wish to endanger our potential to export to these countries which do not have a health warning on our packs." A British cancer specialist described the situation in the Third World as similar to England in the early years of the century, when one in ten men was dying of lung cancer. He estimated that in China alone 50 million of today's children will die through tobacco-related diseases.38

If such estimates are anywhere near accurate, the reference to the Opium Wars is not far from the mark, and it might be fair to warn of the blurring of the boundary between narcotrafficking and genocide.

Go to the next segment.

35 Hilts, NYT, May 18, 1990; Mary Kay Magistad, BG, May 31, 1990.

36 Bourne, COHA (Council on Hemispheric Affairs) News And Analysis, June 5, 1990. Straits Times, in International Herald Tribune, April 9, 1990. On the relative significance of nations, see chapter 12, p. 365.

37 AP, NYT, June 27, also briefly noting the World Conference on Lung Health a month earlier; AP, May 21; Ron Scherer, CSM, May 23; Betsy Lehman, BG, May 22, 1990.

38 Ben Lowe, "Third World is butt of deadly trade ploy," Guardian (New York), May 30, 1990. KEYWORDS terrorist democracy elections cia mossad bnd nsa covert operation 911 mi6 inside job what really happened wtc pentagon joint chiefs of staff jcs centcom laser hologram usa mi5 undercover agent female sex exploitation perception deception power anarchy green social democratic participation japanese spy black-op false flag gladio terror.

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