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Where's My Fix?
Iraqi Forces Turn Increasingly to Drugs.

3 March 2011

The amount of drug and alcohol dependency among the Iraqi forces members is increasing to the extent that the Iraqi capitalist class is concerned what its effects will be when American troops leave at the end of May, 2011. Major General Hazim al-Khazraji, Inspector General of the Kirkup police in Northern Iraq, said drug and alcohol consumption had increased among police officers seeking to ease the monotony, fatigue, and danger of their jobs, "The percentage of drug users and drunken police officers will grow as long as there are alerts and extra duty" he said (New York Times, Nov. 7, 2010).

The American capitalist class, through its executive committee, the American government, has spent $22 billion on training and equipping the Iraqi Security Forces since 2004. The American military has said that Iraq's army and police are capable of fending off insurgent armies. Though it is of no concern to the working class, such optimism seems groundless considering there are areas of Iraq where 50% of the security forces, including high ranking officers, use drugs and alcohol while on duty.

While no one knows how many of Iraq's 675 000 security force are on drugs, interviews with dozens of soldiers, police officers, politicians, health officials, pharmacists, and drug dealers, suggest the drug and alcohol use among the police and the army has increased considerably during the past year. Those who have admitted to substance abuse on duty said long hours of work and the constant fear that accompanies it have made drugs and alcohol almost a necessity. According to one police officer, " They help us forget that we are hungry and they make it easier to deal with people. They encourage us during moments when we are facing death." No action will be taken against them because, in the words of one high-ranking officer, "They are among our most fearless fighters."

Health officials say this is part of a larger problem of drug abuse in Iraq where addiction has spread during three decades of economic hardship. Though marijuana and hashish are smuggled in from Iran and Afghanistan, Iraqis are also taking prescription medication illegally. Health officials claim that medicine to treat such diverse illnesses as epilepsy, insomnia, depression, and diarrhea, are bought without prescriptions or stolen from pharmacies and hospitals. Over-the-counter medicines are also abused, a typical case being that of army officers who drink cough medicine like water. Drug dealers who have been arrested were let go on the understanding that they would supply the security forces with drugs. Illegal drugs are easily available and can be purchased in cafes and markets, sometimes even from elderly women, as less obvious suspects.

This doesn't mean dealers always get away with it. A recently established drug enforcement squad in Western Iraq, arrested a men who possessed 200 000 pills, that he planned to give free to the Iraqi forces. The squad's head major, Faisal-al-Issawa, said, "He wanted them to become addicted, then planned to start charging them."

It is thoroughly understandable that for someone to kill another human being with whom he has no legitimate quarrel, and risk being killed himself, is not an easy thing to do. Certainly they would feel a need for some artificial stimulation, which is further evidence (if any is needed) of the corrupting influence of capitalism. The Socialist Party of Canada and its companion parties in the World Socialist Movement, have explained clearly for over a century that wars are caused by competing sections of the capitalist class for markets and access to raw materials. The US invaded Iraq primarily because Sadaam Hussein said he would sell oil to the business rivals of American capitalists - their counterparts in India and China. The oil had to be secured. When George W. Bush, an oil capitalist himself, said Iraq must be invaded because they had weapons of mass destruction, he wasn't lying. The US had given Iraq such weapons years before to use in Sadaam's war against Iran who were deemed as a threat to American oil interests.

War, being an integral part of capitalism's daily functioning, will last as long as capitalism itself does. So, too, will substance abuse as people in both economic classes feel the stress of coping with life under the profit system. The answer to both problems is to put an end to the capitalist mode of production and replace it with common ownership and production for the needs of all.

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