Listen: Peter Andreas ’87 on “Killer High: A History of War in Six Drugs”
In this talk, Peter Andreas ’87 traces the age-old and ever-evolving relationship between drugs and war, from traditional interstate wars to various forms of unconventional intrastate war. He especially focuses on the use of drugs by combatants, the use of drug revenue by state and non-state actors to fund war, and the use of military methods to control and suppress drugs.
“[There is] a complicated, fascinating relationship between warfare and psychoactive substances," he says. "And so I show its variation across place, time, and psychoactive substance. And really, one take away is how drugs, in an important way, made war. And war, in turn, shaped drugs and made new drugs as well. So it’s this interactive relationship, over time, across place and across drugs.”
Andreas earned a B.A. with High Honors in political science from Swarthmore and an M.A. and Ph.D. in government from Cornell University. He is currently the John Hay Professor of International Studies at Brown University and has held fellowships at Harvard University, the Brookings Institute and the SSRC MacArthur Foundation. Andreas is a scholar in the field of international relations and the author of 10 books, including the political memoir Rebel Mother: My Childhood Chasing the Revolution (2017). Andreas is currently working on a new book, Killer High: A History of War in Six Drugs.
Osman Balkan: So, thank you all so much for coming. I'd like to thank the sponsors who made this event possible, and that's the Political Science Department here at Swarthmore, and the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, and the Global Affairs series.
For those of who you don't know me, my name's Osman Balkan. I teach in the political science department here and it's an honor to welcome Peter Andreas back to Swarthmore. Peter was a Political Science major and also Sociology, Anthropology minor who graduated in 1987. I went and tried to look up his student transcripts on the faculty services website, but unfortunately they were not available. So rest assured students, in 20 years or 30 years, no one will know what you did here. Lost records. So once you get out of this place it's all secret, but Peter has gone on to do great things since his time at Swarthmore. He earned his PhD in Political Science from Cornell and currently teaches at Brown University where he has a joint appointment as the John Hay Professor of International Studies and Political Science in the department of Political Science at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. He's held fellowships at Harvard, at the Brookings Institute and at the SSRC MacArthur Foundation.
Professor Andreas is the leading scholar in the field of International Relations and the author of ten books. These include, most recently, "Rebel Mother" which is a fascinating memoir about his childhood published in 2017. "Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America", published by Oxford Press in 2013. One of my favorites, "Border Games: Policing the US/Mexico Divide", a book which has become a classic in border studies and second edition appeared in 2009 with Cornell Press. His articles have been published in leading journals in our field including International Security, International Studies Quarterly and Perspectives on Politics. And he's also written many op-eds and public-facing pieces such as Foreign Affairs, Harpers, The Nation and the Washington Post.
Professor Andreas is currently working on a new book about the relationship between drugs and warfare entitled "Killer High: A History of War In Six Drugs", which he will be talking to us about today. So please join me in welcoming Professor Peter Andreas.
Professor Andreas: Thank you Osman for that generous and kind introduction. It's fabulous feedback. I have not actually given a talk at Swarthmore. It's been over 30 years and I've been back for reunions but I've actually never seen the place in action. I mean, you guys, you running around campus and reminding me of what it's like back in the day. It's surreal to see some of my professors actually here as well, so. They can attest that I actually went here, even though my grades are not here. But back then, I don't know if it's still the same, when I was in the honor's program we didn't actually get grades. It was like some kind of system where you all get graded at the very end of your senior year. Anyway, I want to tell you about my career book project. It's on the history of the relationship between war and drugs. Osman said that the title is "Killer High", that's not my title, that's the title that they're imposing on me. They may win that battle, but I think it's a little too cute.
"Killer High: A History of War In Six Drugs", but for the talk purposes this is what the book's about, this is what the talk is about. And so basically, I've taken a historical turn in my research and writing in recent years. Really a closet historian at this point, though my historian college probably would recognize me as a real historian. And what I do in this book is I trace from ancient times to the present, but especially the last 500 years roughly. The relationship, as you'll see, a complicated, fascinating relationship between warfare and psychoactive substances. And so I show its variation across place, time and psychoactive substance. And really one take away is how drugs, in an important way, made war. And war, in turn, shaped drugs and made new drugs as well. So it's this interactive relationship, over time cross place and across drugs. And there are links to earlier work even though it's not always historical.
In "Drug War Politics", my first book, I was a secondary author, co-author with my undergraduate thesis advisor Ken Sharpe who many of you, some of you anyway, have had in class or maybe still have in class. I believe it's his last semester here, I'm sad that he's not here right now. And also with another ... Eva Bertram, another Swarthmore grad. "War Games", already mentioned. Policing the Globe, about internationalization of crime control, a book about Siege of Sarajevo, "Blue Helmets and Black Markets." And then more recently, "Smuggler Nation", a history of the United States through the lens of smuggling. It's partly through these books that I became interested in this topic. But this is the first project of mine where I've really focused on drugs since, well now more than 20 years since "Drug War Politics." I'm coming full circle, but much more historical and actually with a clear connection to issues of warfare.
What's the added value? So what? You have to ask why sit here and listen to this lecture? Why write a book about this? Why bother killing some trees to publish it? Well I would suggest ... it helps us answer questions about war that we otherwise can't answer if we do not include the issues of drugs. So I'll get into more of that in the substance to the topic. But just big questions like, what sustained French troop morale in the trenches of World War I? How did Britain's? How was morale kept up with in London during the battle of Britain? How did the Japanese pay for their invasion and occupation in China. How did kamikaze pilots do what they did? Similarly asked key questions about drugs. How does China in the 19th century become the world's largest addicted population?
Or more benignly, how does Coca-Cola, which is a drug actually, caffeine a caffeinated drug, become the world's most popular soft drink? These are wide ranging questions across time, place, and drug that you can't answer without including issues of war. So in some ways, think about it this way, it's a lens to look at the history of war in a different way. And the history of war ... basically the history of war in a different way than others and a history of drugs in a way that you otherwise wouldn't look at. Another way to put it, it's military history told through the lens of drugs and drug history told through the lens of military history. Now this is not exactly a hot topic, in political science certainly. And there's bits and pieces of this story out there, in fact that's what my book is mostly about is connecting the dots. But for the most part this story is marginalized, not just in political science, but across the social sciences and even frankly in history.
It's not far from world politics, it's actually, as I'll hopefully convince you, it's been essential in world politics. And it's certainly a big part of some current policy debates over what to do about the Taliban. Basically a drug, you know, opium funded restrictions in Afghanistan. Or FARC Guerrillas in Columbia, cocaine finance, right? But what I want to suggest as part of the motivation is to open up what I find as a fairly narrow and distorted public debate. So there's an academic motivation which is marginalized but it's important to the real world and there's a kind of narrowness and distorted aspect to the public policy debate on these issues. As some of you know there's an overwhelmingly large literature on the history of war. No surprise, right?
There's also a sizeable, though much smaller, literature on the history of drugs. What's fascinating is that those two literatures rarely intercept. They don't really speak to each other. Those historians don't read each others stuff. You know, they get snippets of it here or there, but for the most part the war literature and the drug literature are divorced. And so one of the things to do is to bring them together.
Also the big picture story is mostly missing even in those accounts that put it front and center. So you might have a book on opium and counter-insurgency in Southeast Asia. You'll have a book about amphetamines in World War II, you'll have a book about the drug wars in Mexico today. Right? You get my point. Very geographically focused, temporally focused, specific drug focused. But the big picture narrative is mostly still missing. And in fact, most accounts, and this includes me until now, mostly privileging illegal drugs and stateless factors.
My initial entrée into this topic back in the '90s with Ken Sharp, illegal drugs, the war on drugs. Stateless tactics, Right? Narco-insurgence, narco terrorists, drug cartel. The image you get from these kinds of terms and most of the writing about drugs anymore, is about weakening states, non-state threats and so on. Whether it's insurgents, terrorists, or traffickers, right? And it's mostly brackets history. History starts after the end of the Cold War.
So, as a corrective to this, there's a glossing over of legal drugs. There's a glossing over a longer history and there's a glossing over of the rural state. So I try to sort of bring these things in, more front and center. My own bias is to privilege illegal drugs, as I already mentioned. But if you actually look at the historical record, there's absolutely no reason to privilege illegal drugs when you're looking at the relationship between war and drugs. You have to be agnostic about the importance of different drugs when you're looking at historical record. So one thing you do is you actually make this a combined story, of legal and illegal. Also the overall takeaway is that yes, the drugs were in a relationship with underlying states, threaten them. Sometimes feel under siege by drug cartels and narco-insurgence and so on. But the larger historical story here is frankly of empowering states. State craft, using drugs to pursue strategic interest, even when it doesn't work out, it might have perverse consequences but again, this is the corrective of stories.
The other thing I wanted to do in this book is, just actually tell us in simple, clear form, what exactly is the relationship between drugs and war? Because most people think about one dimension of the relationship and forget about the others. So in a second I'm actually going to unpack it systematically. So like all the different dimensions of the relationship, and those dimensions, very dramatically across different drugs, different places, different wars. So there's hopefully a contribution just by actually, critically unpacking what those dimensions are and push back against a privileging of certain dimensions.
So what drugs ... I haven't talked about specific drugs yet. But I did say I want to bring in both legal and illegal drugs. Alcohol's a drug. It's the worlds most important drug, well caffeine actually is. But alcohol is the oldest drug, it's the largest consumption drug both on and off the battlefield. Nicotine in the form of tobacco, more recent world history, but hugely important off and on the battlefield. Caffeine we don't think of as a drug, but it's an important drug. I wouldn't be talking to you right now if I hadn't had like ten doses of caffeine. I'm overdosed on caffeine at this point today. But what I mean by caffeine I mean mostly in coffee and tea, also in caffeinated beverages such as Coca-Cola in particular.
Opium, often people immediately think this war on drugs, opium yes. Opium wars after all, right? Yes, that's an important part of our story, it's not the only part. Morphine and Heroin, Amphetamines, comes late, this is a 20th century story. This is about industrialization of the relationship between war and psychoactive substances, so it's a World War II story up to the present. Cocaine, that's primarily the driver of the militarization of today's drug war. Notice what I haven't talked about or mentioned? Cannabis. Hallucinogens. Hallucinogens, are a niche drug. Yes they may have battlefield applications and certain cultures and certain times and places. But for the most part, these are not very useful drugs.
Tripping on mushrooms is not going to win you very good wars. Frankly, there's not a history of taxing them by states to generate drug revenue. Cannabis throws the big surprise. When I first started this project I thought, "Wow. The world's most important elicit drug, cannabis, has to be part of the story. Has to be." Reading the historical literature, sure, it's here and there in the drug story but it's remarkably less important than all of these others. So the subtitle of the book is "The History of War in Six Drugs." Not seven, I thought about adding a chapter on cannabis but it would have been kind of a weak chapter. Frankly, the purpose of the chapter would have been to explain the puzzle of cannabis not being as prone as the others. In fact, the most important role of cannabis, historically in relation to drugs, is as a fiber for rope, for naval purposes. Not for actually using as a psychoactive substance, and the purpose of my book is about psychoactive substances, so that kind of takes it out of content.
Now sure, plenty of American GI's smoked dope in Vietnam, and actually Napoleon's troops brought hash back with them from Egypt and introduced it to France. But it's actually, believe it or not, at the end of the day less important than these other drugs. So I've mentioned the importance of just as a basic elementary thing, unpacking the relationship showing its core dimensions of war while on drugs. This is literally the use of drugs, psychoactive substance, by combatants. Not just by combatants but by civilians in wartime itself. The home front and the war front.
The next one's very different. The war through drugs, right? Nothing to do with actually using drugs for the business of war, it's actually using drugs to finance war to weaken the enemy. They're both about the relationship with drugs and war but they're fundamentally different, right? In fact, there's actually a whole book. "War While on Drugs", but the author doesn't talk about any of these other dimensions. The war for drugs, very different, but actually overlaps sometimes with through drugs. Sometimes you use drug revenue to then take over drug markets. The classic example of war for drugs are the Opium Wars. Opium I. War against drugs, this is what we're most familiar with. This is what some people anyway, think the book's about when they hear about it. In fact, I saw the ad for this talk, it had a picture of Narcos. They said, "Oh, it must be the war on drugs," and yes, my first book was called Drug War Politics and that's how I got into this issue. But frankly, that's only one small piece of the story.
It's hugely important today what's going on in Mexico. The number of deaths in Mexico, rivals that actually surpasses the most civil wars. Over 100,000 deaths in the last decade, in Mexico. I mean literally here though. I don't mean war as a metaphor, "war on drugs". When it started, when Nixon coined the phrase, it was metaphoric. We weren't sending in the military yet.
After the Cold War, it started in the 80s, but really revved up after the Cold War, actually using instruments of war to suppress drugs, or attack rivals in the name of drugs. We can talk more about that, we see it, playing out today all over the world but especially right next door in Mexico. Last but not least, drugs after the war. There's winners and losers of war. Well guess what, drugs are amongst the biggest winners and losers of war. Some drugs rise and some decline based on outcomes of war. And I will give you some illustrations of that in a second.
So, I don't know how well you can see this. I'm always skeptical of PowerPoint slides with too much information on them in tiny print. But hopefully you can, this is kind of... You don't need to read the book, just see this, right? Basically the dimensions of the drug war relationship, their relevance across drugs. And what you basically show as well, war while on drugs, varies across drug. So it's really important in alcohol and tobacco and caffeine, but it's actually more moderate in the case of opium, very high in the case of amphetamines. Actually low in the case of cocaine. Cannabis is only on the chart as a comparison. Remember I told you cannabis turns out to be ... Notice that cannabis doesn't score high in any category, either low or moderate. This is not scientifically systematic. This is my reading, having read as much as I possibly could about the history of both drugs and war, and synthesizing it and coming up with this. Some people might quibble with whether it's low or moderate, but I think most people if they did that homework, they would agree with this characterization.
It's fascinating. So amphetamines, hugely important in war while on drugs. But you know what? Not that important as a funder of war compared to, say, the history of alcohol or tobacco. Anyway, you get my point. So it varies across drug and then the dimensions vary a great deal as well. It's interesting, drugs after ... here it's not a lot of variation. All the core six drugs are hugely impacted by the aftermath of war, except actually cannabis, which again is not a chapter in the book. War against drugs, literally I mean war, I don't mean metaphor, I mean using military personnel, technologies, doctrines, instruments, and so on. And guess what? The only one that ... opium scores high, cocaine actually scores the highest of all, if you really tell the story. The militarization of war on drugs is really a story of the militarization of war on cocaine, and it's really just the last couple decades.
Anyway. Let me go on and actually give you some empirical stories. Why talk to you about the American Revolution? Other than the fact you're in the United States of America, this place wouldn't exist the way it does if it wasn't for the American Revolution, but why do I pick this case to illustrate these various dimensions? Because it turns out that it's one conflict that actually captures all of the dimensions in one conflict. Actually, I have to think about this some more, but it captures all the dimensions better than any other conflict I've found. Some wars it's funded by a war but not use of drugs during the war. Anyway, America Revolution we have all five of those dimensions that I just outlined for you. So, well how are we doing on time? Good. Good, still got 28. Great. Alright, perfect.
So let's talk about the outbreak of the American Revolution. First of all, where are they plotting the Revolution? It's not in churches or in schools or in private homes or on college campuses. It's in taverns, so it's not the drug itself, alcohol, but the place where it's served that provides the meeting place. And the tavern is where the Declaration of Independence is written. The tavern is the place where the Declaration of Independence is read. The tavern is where ... you know, the famous taverns in Boston is where they plotted the Boston Tea Party.
There's actually an interesting literature just on taverns. There's that and make it part of the story, right? There's also a very interesting story, that if I had more time I'd go into the details about rum and the Revolution. There is more detail in my book Smuggler Nation. Basically, our very founding story, is a smuggling story in that, the New England colonies, not Pennsylvania, where I'm from, Rhode Island in particular, and Massachusetts depended on rum exports. It's the most important economic export. For rum you need molasses. There's no way you can legally import as much molasses as you want from the British West Indies. So you smuggle it in from the French West Indies. How do we know this? Because we know much rum is produced by these New England distilleries, they're perfectly legal distilleries.
And we know that the amount of legally imported molasses does not come anywhere close to being able to produce that much rum. So there's a big mystery there. Well it's made up by the black market, it's made up by smuggling. It's not part of our story of drugs and war, though, until the British cracked down on this trade. They not just cracked down on this trade, they turned the British Royal Navy into the customs force. This is truly the militarization of the war on drugs in a way that we don't even have today in the United States. Right? They turned the world's most powerful navy to stop a smuggling business. And the smugglers not only balked and pushed back, they rebelled violently, right?
So we look at what's going on in Mexico, it is awful. It's terrible and the deaths are extraordinary. But for the most part traffickers today want to be left alone. Not take over the state in terms of actually [inaudible] the country. In this case, it actually contributed to the outbreak of the American Revolution itself. Tobacco interest as well. Not a smuggling story, but heavily constrained trade that can only trade with England. These were heavily indebted tobacco farmers and tobacco interest. Tea, well, yes it's caffeine and we all know about the Boston Tea Party, I don't need to tell you that story.
What's fascinating is how many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence had some kind of interest in distilling and in tobacco, right? They knew they'd be better off if they called shots themselves, and they were perfectly fine trying to rebel. However, that raises a real puzzle. How did this ragtag force think it could actually win against the world's most powerful military? Well, today we talked about conflict commodities, cocaine, we talked about Blood Diamonds in Africa funding rebels. Well, what funded our rebels? Tobacco was pretty important. In fact, Benjamin Franklin went to France and negotiated a pretty good deal. Basically put tobacco down as collateral for a French loan to help pay for the war. The British were so outraged that they went on a burning spree to burn down tobacco fields in Virginia. Some of them they knew they were Thomas Jefferson's fields.
This was a classic conflict commodity. Rum though, too, interestingly, the soldiers on both sides received rum rations to keep them going. To me it seems crazy. Rum rations to soldiers? The British actually kept the rum ration going in the British Navy until the 1970s. But anyway, most country ... The U.S. gave that up in the 1930s and whiskey rations was wiped out after the war. What explains the fact that rum, the most ... the alcoholic heart, the spirit of choice in the colonies, switched to whiskey. Well, lots of interesting reasons. One is rum was associated with and was a British drink. We're now a newly independent country, we're going to show our independence, our identity as a nation, is built around not being British. So that pushes shift from rum to whiskey.
But there's also more material considerations. It's now more expensive to import the raw material for rum, whereas you can actually produce whiskey from corn in the rapidly expanding West. Now that you have ... that the British can no longer tell you, "You can't move west." So now there's excess corn production, and so there's whiskey distilleries springing up all over in western Pennsylvania. I'll get to that in a second. So the country switches from rum to whiskey. That's a legacy, that's a consequence of the war.
Similarly and more benignly, tea and coffee. We're a coffee drinking country for the most part. Have been for a long time. But before the revolution, it was all about tea. Not all, but mostly. Switch to coffee. Why? Partly, tea is more expensive. Coffee also becomes more accessible from more need by sources, especially after countries in Latin American become independent and Brazil starts producing the stuff in the early 19th century. Interestingly, the very rebellion against the crown, which is the imposition of taxes on in this case, well previously the rum trade through the molasses taxes. Now a new government says, "You know what? We were all against taxes then. But now we're for them. Now we actually need some minimal amount of revenue to keep the federal government going. So we're going to impose a modest tax on whiskey production." And western Pennsylvania distillers rebelled.
And so Hamilton and George Washington quickly formed a large militia and squashed it fairly quickly and easily. But it's fascinating that the whiskey rebellion was actually implicated in the building of the New American State. Some people were extremely skeptical of any taxes whatsoever. When the whiskey rebellion started, they suddenly realized, "You know what? We kind of need a standing army." So John Brown, one of the founders of my university, he was one of the most outspoken critics of paying a cent to the federal government. Rhode Island I think was one of the last states to actually go along with new taxes. After the whiskey rebellion, John Brown woke up and said, "We need some minimal amount of order."
Any questions about any of this? Actually no, I'm talking right now as if I'm in this lecture with students. No, we're going to have a Q and A right after the lecture, so. Sorry. Not going to ... I do this in lecture, I stop myself all the time to make sure you guys are okay, but. I'm sure you're okay.
Fast forward. We could tell you a lot of different ... you know, American Revolution is chosen because it captured all these different dimensions and actually multiple drugs. But, take a little more too ... by far the most devastating war in human history. Sun Tzu once said, "Speed is the essence of war." He didn't mean what I mean here. Fascinating, the book came out and said you know, basically, a German journalist wrote a book called "Blitzed", Norman Ohler. I'll tell you why that book is problematic, but frankly very useful for me at the same time. Basically shows that the Blitzkrieg was fueled by speed.
They were producing millions of pills of methamphetamines called Pervitin, manufactured near Berlin, and doled out to the troops to keep them awake for days. And the retreating French and Belgians were just astonished at the sheer speed of the onslaught. They just couldn't believe ... I mean, you know where was a lot of things surprising about it. But one was literally the amount of terrain captured over a very short period of time and how fast they got to capture the French border. Again, this is very hard to measure, how actually essential speed was in the speed of Blitzkrieg. But to actually ignore the fact that the troops were all drugged up is also problematic, right?
Now what's fascinating, and this isn't in that book "Blitzed", the Germans started actually after a year or two of war, they actually started ... the dosages went down and they became more concerned about the side effects of these drugs. But even as Germany was lowering dosages and stopped distributing as much, allies were starting to distribute it in a big way. So Brits, Americans were all, now especially air forces, on the drug. And the Japanese. And the Japanese, it wasn't just kamikaze pilots who were usually drugged up. You can imagine, it's not surprising, right? Until you actually say it, that the pilots were drugged, people don't think about it. It's no surprise when you go on a suicide mission they have you hopped on some drugs.
But what's interesting is defense workers also receiving large quantities of drugs. Now here's a country that, prior to World War II, and had very little drug problems. It had actually been able to successfully insulate itself from the outside world while opium invaded nearby China. Suddenly, World War II, amphetamines, after World War II, stockpiles of the stuff are dumped on the civilian population. Japan actually has its first drug epidemic in history a decade, a decade and a half after the war. And still to this day, amphetamines are the drug of choice, the illicit drug of choice in Japan but also elsewhere.
So who are the drug winners? Well, I just told you amphetamines basically made a big splash in the station in a way that they hadn't before. The American armed forces actually kept using amphetamines for decades. In fact, we're probably using them in Korea and Vietnam at much higher dosages than they were in World War II. In fact, to this day, the Air Force still allocates tablets to long distance pilots to use as needed.
Caffeine, I don't just mean caffeine, I mean particular caffeine products. So, instant coffee. You ever wonder why it became so popular? Well you can imagine instant coffee being kind of useful on the front, right? So it really didn't take off as a mass produced, mass consumed drug until World War II. It was used in World War I and then really took off in World War II. And then that staying power post-war. And Coca-Cola, the world's most famous most successful caffeinated soft drink. How did Coca-Cola conquer the world after World War II? Not just because the U.S. ended the war as the biggest power, that's obviously part of the story. No, it got a head start during the war. It was the privileged soda company that basically had bottling plants near the front lines. Basically a monopoly, the U.S. government, so in France and elsewhere. So when the war ended, they were already positioned all over the world to take over local markets in a way that they would not have been if it had not been for World War II.
Tobacco. Not just any tobacco but American tobacco brands became the brand, Marlboro become the favored brand of choice. In fact, the immediate post-war Germany, devastated economy, much was Europe, but especially Germany, cigarettes actually become money. A currency for trading. The most reliable currency. American soldiers stationed in Germany right after the war in privileged position, you can buy anything. Because they have the cigarettes to do it. The Marshall Plan, I forget the number, it's in the book. The amount of cigarettes that are part of the Marshall Plan is astonishing. When you think of it as, "Oh, that's just cigarettes. People are happy when you have them." It's actually money. The cigarettes, right after World War II, that's like a mint. This is currency, you trade it for food. If you don't have a smoking habit, all the better. If you don't smoke the stuff, you use it to buy food and other things.
Alright. Some drugs lost, also. We don't hear much today about legal cocaine. Well, before World War II, Japan's leading pharmaceutical companies were all producing legal cocaine based on Coca plantations in Java, Indonesia. Peru had a legal raw cocaine export industry accessing Germany where you would find the final white powder you would find in the German pharmaceutical companies; devastated by World War II. Basically the American occupation of Japan and nearby-ers that Japan had been growing coca completely wiped out legal cocaine, right? So the criminalization of cocaine, which the U.S. had actually wanted since early in the 20th century. The only thing that enabled it to actually globalize its preference for cocaine prohibition and physically exterminate legal cocaine, was through World War II.
Now, I've hopefully convinced you hope important drugs are in history of war. And how important war is in the history of drugs. However, in the book, this caveat is in the beginning of the book rather than at the end. And basically, the real challenge here ... and it's been one of the biggest challenges of the project is how do I bring drugs into the story of war without any drug in the analysis. Like everything ends up being about drugs, drugs, drugs, and you just end up blaming drugs for wars. And drugs kind of make you fuzzy-brained, frankly. So you have to be careful not to make the analysis fuzzy-brained.
There's contemporary literature which I'm not citing, I don't want to insult people. But basically, you get the impression that drugs are the source of war all over the world right now. It's more complicated than that. It facilitates, it's a tool, it's an instrument, but drugs have no agency of their own. And most importantly, if we look the bigger historical sweep of things, states have been the biggest beneficiaries overall. And it's the legal drugs, not the illegal drugs, that have been the most important. What about the future? Where's this all headed? We don't have a lot of time, we can talk about it more in the Q and A, but. I hate to say it, but a drug-free world is as unlikely as a war-free world. So you put those two realities together and drugs ... drugs, war relationship remains alive and well today and I have no expectation that's going to change any time soon. But that doesn't mean it doesn't change, I mean doesn't change in some way, that's patterns of continuity.
And so for example, governments for the most part, are no longer as dependent, for example, on drug tax revenue as they once were historically. Before income taxes really became more sources of funding. And alcohol on the battlefield, it's just not has tolerated anymore. I mean, warfare is a much more complicated, sophisticated, expensive business. Lots of machinery. If you screw up because you're even buzzed with alcohol, it can cost lives and airplanes, and stuff. So the nature of warfare itself, the mechanization and sophistication has made it less and less possible to be drunk on the job. Whereas at one point in history, drunk soldiers, they were always mixed bag, frankly. But sometimes having them a little drunk numbed them and made them more useful.
However, that doesn't mean they’re not drugged. There is, you know, it's interesting. The amphetamines are still used more selectively. New drugs are being developed over time. Pain killers, which I haven't talked about, now have sort of recreational purposes. So getting hooked on painkiller opiates. It's interesting. American veterans in Vietnam came back sometimes with heroin addictions. Now the army cleaned up considerably after that. Now American Veterans come back from Afghanistan and Iraq with opioid ... you know, addicted to prescription opioids. And when they get cut off from their supply, they may actually turn to heroine because it's actually cheaper. So prescription opioids are actually a gateway drug, if you will, to heroine.
And military scientists all over the world ... one of the key drug research is had a deal with sleep. So it's that same thing we saw the Blitzkrieg how to keep these soldiers awake for days. They're still at it trying to perfect a drug that's not going to have the negative consequences, the addictive properties, will be able to keep you alert, keep that competitive edge over your enemy. It's not just the U.S. military, it's all over the world, are busy coming up with the super drug to keep people awake longer with less negative consequences.
But anyway, I will stop there and we can open up for discussion. Thank you.