Wallstein Verlag


Helena Barop

The Poppy Wars


US global drug policy from 1950 to 1979


ISBN: 978-3-8353-5086-1

available as of 29.11.2021


German Version


In her history of US American international drug policy, Helena Barop explains why the »War on Drugs« failed.


The war on drugs has failed: between 1950 and 1979, in an attempt to prevent the cultivation and contrabandism of drugs, the USA became involved in a costly global project with numerous side effects and devastating consequences. They banned cultivation farming of opium in Turkey, only to then experience difficulties in procuring opium for pharmaceutical production. They stopped opium caravans in Thailand, which resulted in a dramatic rise in local prices, thus creating an additional incentive for growing more opium. They sent Vietnam veterans to Mexico, where these showed military pilots how to spray opium fields with herbicides using helicopters. Thirty years later, Mexico is perishing in a drug war – partly because by destroying the opium plantations the USA had eliminated the competition for the most brutal and corrupt drug entrepreneurs.
Helena Barop investigates why and when drugs started being perceived as a problem in the US, and how the drug authorities

have tried to solve this problem. She shows how drug policies have repeatedly pushed the United States to its limits and explains why global drug prohibition cannot succeed.


Helena Barop studied modern and contemporary history and philosophy in Freiburg and Rome. She has been working on her habilitation project since 2020.
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