This is Your War on Drugs

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Gary Brecher (The War Nerd) argues that war and drugs just go together, no matter what the DEA has to say about it:

Now, those plants, like coca and khat, they’re for primitives, of course. We over here in the developed world, well, we developed some stuff that makes that stuff look like grandma’s chamomile tea. The big breakthrough came when a German chemist synthesized amphetamine in 1887. God. I love the Germans, I mean I love the Germans the way they used to be, pre-1945, when they got gelded (nice pun, huh, “gelded”? Cuz that’s Germans now: Money but no balls.) Back before ’45, German scientists were working night and day to make the world a weirder, faster place, and this discovery was one of their biggest. Unfortunately, nobody realized the possibilities of speed in combat in time for World War I, but by 1919, Japanese chemists had come up with a water-soluble version, good ol’ crystal meth, redneck work ethic in pill or injectable form. So by the time WW II came along, every army was well-stocked with go pills. The British used 72 million speed pills in the war, pretty impressive when you consider how bad they fought. But the serious armies were also bigtime speed dealers.

The Japanese, who’d discovered the stuff, started handing out speed (“Shabu”) like candy to the Imperial Forces, which actually explains a lot about why they were good at suicide charges but not so good at thinking through a tactical problem. When the war was over, and lost, there was so much of the stuff left in the Army warehouses that Japanese civilians broke in and started popping speed to keep their minds off the fact that there was no food, no shelter, and the Emperor wasn’t a god any more. It’s taken about 50 years to get them off the habit, and they say the Yakuza, the closest thing to a military elite Japan has these days, still has a soft spot for the ol’ speed.

Drugs make WW II a lot easier to get. How did those huge armies fight so long and so hard, when people these days are so weak? Cuz, among other things, they were high, dude. In fact, I never understood how either side could have stood up to the misery of a battle like Stalingrad until I found out that every damn soldier on both sides was high on speed. Once you know that, Stalingrad is a whole lot easier to understand.

Of course, as he points out, the one time you don’t want to be using “speedy stuff” in wartime is when you’ve got serious strategic thinking to do — like Hitler, who was getting daily Pervitin (amphetamine) injections.

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