Origins of Cold War Lecture: Italy and Narcotics

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    While I found the lecture very comprehensive and informative I couldn’t help but notice the lack of detail regarding CIA involvement in post Mussolini Italy. You (Professor Woods) mentioned the CIA funding to communist opposition groups but there was a far more interesting component. Namely what Peter Dale Scott called “Operation Underworld,” this was the deal struck between elements of the criminal underworld (players like Meyer Lansky) and the CIA to release Sicilian mobster Lucky Luciano from prison and deport him to Italy. The goal was to set up a power base with ethnically appropriate assets, that would traffic narcotics and weapons, pave the way for control by the CIA. This strategy found continuity into the 50’s with similar operations being attempted in Cuba, Latin America, and Indochina. The Indochina link is especially relevant because the Coriscan traffickers were involved with the Italian operation (and would eventually move much of it to Canada) and later with the French-CIA operations in Burma and Vietnam.

    The explosion of the post-war drug trade is deeply rooted in cold war policies and CIA operations, Iran-Contra being the most notorious example. I just thought this was worth pointing out.

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