Who Hijacked Our Country

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

War on Drugs in Jeopardy?

The Wall Street Casino — if you win you get to keep all your profits; if you lose, the taxpayers will bail you out — might not be the only American institution that’s in trouble. With Mexico’s grisly drug-related violence getting worse every day, the Mexican government is about to say “F#$%&!# You!” to America’s War on Drugs. Somebody has to do it.

Most people who favor the War on Drugs are completely removed and sheltered from the unimaginable suffering caused by this war. They're like those chickenhawks who keep talking about which countries “we” should attack. “We” always means Somebody Else.

If you think of “Drugs!” as just some awful menace you keep hearing about in the news, then a “war on drugs” — a big crackdown! — might seem like a good idea. Then again, if you keep finding mutilated corpses in your neighborhood — the collateral damage from the wars between rival drug gangs — you might think drug laws are the problem more than the drugs themselves.

So far this year Mexico has had about 3,500 murders attributed directly to the drug wars. A lot of these murder victims include women and children. It isn't just gang members killing each other.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón started out as a gung ho drug warrior. But on October 2nd, he proposed legislation that would decriminalize possession of marijuana, cocaine, meth and heroin. It would just be small amounts for personal use. But still, Harry Anslinger and J. Edgar Hoover must be turning in their graves.

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox wanted to decriminalize marijuana several years ago, but he was shouted down by the Bush Administration. That was when Dumbya had a lot more political capital. Things are a little different now.

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said:

“President Calderón's proposal to decriminalize personal possession of illicit drugs is consistent with the broader trend throughout Western Europe, Canada, and other parts of Latin America to stop treating drug use and possession as a criminal problem. But it contrasts sharply with the approach taken in the United States…Looking to the U.S. as a role model for drug control is like looking to apartheid South Africa for how to deal with race.”

My sentiments exactly.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Blogger Candace said...

Exactly! I'm afraid that after the last eight years, no country is looking to us as a positive example of anything.

It seems to me the Mexican government would have the greatest opposition from their own drug lords, since they would have the most to lose. Right? So, I don't know how they'll ever completely decriminalize it unless we do, too, since we're on the "demand" side of it.

Tis a puzzlement.

Damn stuff should have never been criminalized in the first place.

October 14, 2008 at 9:05 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Candace: I think our country is becoming less and less an example for other countries to follow. Whether it's invading other countries, our CEOcialist economic system or our war on drugs -- we're mostly becoming an anti-role model. Other countries can look at us and say "OK, let's not do what they did."

October 14, 2008 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger Carlos said...

(Correction to premature post)

Up until about four years ago, I used to love going to Nuevo Laredo on a Saturday to shop and visit The Enchilada Lady, who made the best enchiladas on the planet. I wouldn't cross the border nowadays for the life of me.

The War on Drugs has been a joke for years.

I spent six years on Coast Guard ships doing primarily counternarcotics operations in the Caribbean. I can tell you first hand it's a complete waste of money.

Think of the money spent operating a ship and paying/feeding its crew during a typical two-month patrol (thousands of $ per hour) and how many seizures are made (one per patrol IF you're lucky).

Back in the early 80s, it was estimated that the CG stopped only 10% of the drug traffic coming through the Windward Passage, the Yucatan Passage, the Mona Passage, and other Caribbean choke-points.

The gov't needs to legalize weed, and use the tax $ to relieve our debt; then release all the non-violent drug dealers from prison.

October 15, 2008 at 3:10 AM  
Blogger MRMacrum said...

There is entirely too much money to be made on both sides of the law to ruin it all by decriminalizing drugs. The illegal trade has gotten so huge, banks, countries, and yes our own law enforcement people depend on illegal drugs to keep their various lifestyles up to the levels they have become used to.

In that our drug laws are selective and leave out the two drugs that kill the most people would indicate that it is not the evil of drugs they want to stamp out, but the competition. I think it is really about money, greed, and keeping bloated bureaucracies cruisin in high style.

The War on Drugs is a sham and has been since William Randolph Hearst manufactured the evil back in the 1930's.

October 15, 2008 at 3:58 AM  
Blogger The Chemist said...

Cool, you've won something!

October 15, 2008 at 6:44 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

Oh, great. Now everyone in Mexico is going to be high, spill over the border because there's no fence and rape, pillage and murder us all. I hope you're happy, you dirty hippies.

October 15, 2008 at 7:34 AM  
Blogger Miss Kitty said...

WOW. Excellent post--you bring up great points here. If only we could get a little bit of drug legalization in the U.S. But that'll happen when pigs fly.

October 15, 2008 at 7:35 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Carlos: I haven’t been to Nuevo Laredo but it’s probably the same with Tijuana. The best tacos I ever had were about 5 cents and came from a pushcart in Tijuana; this was around 1970-71. Plus it was a fun place to go. I wouldn’t dare go there now. And Juarez is supposed to be the worst for gang violence.

This war on drugs has caused way more problems than it’s solved, like you said. The trillions of dollars spent, millions of lives ruined, and for what?

Mrmacrum: Unfortunately you're right. Too many powerful people are making a fortune from the war on drugs. Governments, dealers, all sorts of shadowy groups who use drug sales to raise money — I don’t know if they'd ever allow legalization or decriminalization. If it’s done one country at a time maybe it'll have a better chance.

Chemist: Thanks. I’ll stop over at your site.

Randal: First Mexico, then America. We’re gonna turn both countries into a den of Evil. MWAAAHAAHAAHAA.

Miss Kitty: Thanks. Yup, flying pigs or decriminalized drugs — it’s hard to guess which one will come first.

October 15, 2008 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger Enemy of the Republic said...

Bless you, my son for this great post.

When I first began teaching composition, I found that the textbook method was boring. So I designed a class on the Cocaine Trade--students did all their papers on this particular aspect of the drug war, from the creation of crack to the smuggling of the expensive powder. We even watched Scarface.

The drug trade is a lot like capitalism; a few reap the profits and anyone who gets in the way of the market value of said commodity is...well...eliminated, and it is by the invisible hand.

October 15, 2008 at 1:45 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Enemy: Thanks. Yup, the drug trade is capitalism in a nutshell. The marketplace, free enterprise, competition, coldblooded ruthlessness -- it's all here. The drug business is like any other business; banking, manufacturing, you name it.

Funny how conservatives think that some industries (drugs, prostitution) should be shut down completely; while other ("legitimate") industries should be allowed to run wild with absolutely no oversight or interference from the government.

October 15, 2008 at 3:17 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

Like we are the last industrialized nation on earth to be without national health care, we will probably also be one of the last on earth to not allow small amounts of "drugs" for personal use.

I am 100% with Carlos on this one, and with Candace too. And I think Mac is right, they do nothing about drunkahol and tabaccy. And I think what Enemy and you are saying Tom, about the drug war being capitalism, is true. It is unbridled capitalism at its worst.

To regulate or not to regulate? That IS the question.

October 15, 2008 at 4:05 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Snave: You're right, we probably will be the last country to decriminalize and/or regulate drugs. We're sort of becoming the caboose of the world in terms of health care, our approach to the economy, prosecution of victimless crimes, etc.

October 15, 2008 at 4:32 PM  
Blogger Lew Scannon said...

The war on drugs, like the war on terror, is just another Republican boondoggle, with no clear strategy for victory. It also constitutes the first attack on our civil liberties, (as with the war on terror) which seems to be an obsession with the right wingers.

October 15, 2008 at 6:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Lew: I guess our government needs these phony "wars" so they can distract the public. Otherwise the voters might start demanding that they solve the real problems we're all facing.

October 15, 2008 at 7:55 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

Lew is right.

Keeping us in all these endless "wars" is part of the neocons' big strategy.

October 15, 2008 at 8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Candace is so right about America's reduced credibility in the world.

I'm no fan of people using drugs for recreation, but the so-called war clearly isn't sound or even effective public policy. Better we should put money into more and better research to learn the genesis of desire and/or need for drug use.

mrmacrum is so right about why the war will continue on in perpetuity. It really is a major industry on both sides of the law, with vested interests all over the place. Those include politics as well at money, BTW.

October 16, 2008 at 1:03 AM  
Blogger Carlos said...

Tom: I used to go to Tijuana about the same time you did. Great place back then. We used to visit Ensenada for weekends at a time, renting little bungalows on the beach. Great memories.

October 16, 2008 at 2:51 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Snave: Don't criticize the government now. We have to all pull together so we can fight Eastasia, or is it Oceana?

SW: The war on drugs does nothing except channel billions of dollars to drug kingpins, governments and clandestine organizations. That's why it's wrong and why it'll probably continue.

Carlos: I went to Ensenada one weekened; cool place. Usually I just went to Tijuana because it was closer. The ship I was on would pull into San Diego sometimes (it was homeported in Ventura County, north of L.A.).

October 16, 2008 at 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

geez, Tom. I do believe you are sounding just a bit like a Libertarian. Some of us have known for years the war on drugs is a big farce! in my opinion, everyone who said it's all about money is absolutely right.

October 17, 2008 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Kate: I'm certainly libertarian when it comes to the war on drugs, or any other "war" against personal behavior that doesn't affect anybody else.

October 17, 2008 at 4:22 PM  

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