In Myanmar, so I have read, there’s today a booming market in little blue meth/meth-caffeine pills much enabled by China’s determination to maintain stability along the route of the Belt and Road Initiative. It seems (to BackChannels, at least) these days that everyone with a cause and a Kalashnikov (whatever) comes up with cash in exchange for ‘wokefulness’ of the cartoonish kind — and the fighting and funding and the building and the struggle for better and more and more and more of the same rages on . . . .
From the Awesome Conversation
Inspiration for this pass-along: Tobin, Meaghan. “What does China’s Belt and Road have to do with Myanmar’s meth problem?” South China Morning Post, January 8, 2019.
Governments may strengthen their resolve, take the profit out of the business, “medicalize” the results, suffer the loss of some portion of the income of their secondary economies (narcotics represent primary import-export $$$), and move on, or they may play “ostrich” on limited time while their cultures plus political and spiritual missions hollow out and destroy their sense of purpose.
Was Great Britain shutting down its opium trade when the Chinese were paying for its existence?
I’ve grown old(er) having a look into this region in the vicinity of how things work — and with the comparative roles of what gets us high, low, or back to in-between — far inside the human condition and experience, and it’s all a little bit ugly and sad.
More on Myanmar’s ‘Dependence’ Issue
SULLIVAN: But there are a number of factors working against an end to Myanmar’s long-running civil war, understanding is just one of them. The government’s refusal to budge on the ethnic groups’ demands for greater autonomy is another. And then there’s money.
JEREMY DOUGLAS: The biggest source of finance for conflict is clearly drugs.
SULLIVAN: Jeremy Douglas is regional director for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Bangkok. He says the trade is much bigger now than it was decades ago, when the area was better known for its opium and heroin production. Now it’s mostly synthetics like crystal methamphetamine, or ice, destined for markets in Australia, Japan, South Korea and beyond, a business the UNODC reckons is worth a staggering $60 billion a year.NPR. “Myanmar’s Lucrative Drug Trade is Increasingly Fueling The Country’s Conflict.” NPR, August 30, 2019.
BackChannels has published on Rhakine-Rohingya issues and recommends this piece for a fast backgrounder: “Political Perception: Myanmar, Rohingya, and Terrorist Provocateur” (October 29, 2017).
There’s a thematically related story out of Vancouver having to do with money laundering (off of the lucrative black market trade in fentanyl that has attracted high-end everything and inflated housing prices in the area: “Chinese Triads Launder Billions Through Vancouver, Buying Luxury Real Estate, Cars: British Columbia Launches Public Inquiry After Triad Activities Drive Up Cost of Homes.” The Mob Museum, June 5, 2019. Here’s a teaser for you:
This story reveals more than just the failure of Canadian controls against money laundering. It highlights the current global problem of money laundering, in North America, Europe and the Middle East. Based on recent accounts, the criminals are winning.
The breadth and depth of crime fighting agencies and institutions would seem greater as a global community than the global scourge, but it equally clear that criminal operating capacities in manufacturing and distribution have been an “overmatch” for that effort. The money and violence involved in addressing this aspect of our humanity would seem also to have proven more than equal to the task. Here, nonetheless, may be two starting points for those far on the outside looking into how someone else’s condition — nations included — has become the condition into which the whole world appears to be growing.