This was my highest read piece on Readwave. But Readwave no longer exists, so here’s the repost.
This will tie into my upcoming review of Sicario, if I can settle on how I feel about it.
There are few failures in history as great and as harmful as America’s ongoing “Drug War” fiasco.
From its origin the government’s much touted “drug war” has been fraudulent. Ripe for abuse and illegal covert operations, we have seen outrageous violations swept away by cover-ups, but the damage to our society, and to other nations, remains. During the US occupation of Vietnam the “Golden Triangle” next door (Myanmar, Laos & Thailand) became the most productive opium supply in the world. Coincidence?
The CIA’s “Air America” operated heavily there with untraceable planes and unaccountable side deals.
In the 1980s, with illegal covert support to the “Contras” of Central America, this became a massive cocaine superhighway. Coke flew north, and guns flew south. When the topic was broached in the US Congress, during the Iran/Contra hearings, suddenly the need for “closed session” and the classification of secrets became the priority.
With the US military in Afghanistan today, now that nation is the greatest supplier of heroin in the world. Another coincidence? There are many coincidences in the mass consciousness, but unfortunately they aren’t so coincidental. The drug trade is a multi-billion dollar a year business. Laundering the profits through the banks is another multi-billion dollar a year ancillary business.
Like every other “war,” this drug war is highly profitable to those in positions to reap the rewards.
It is not difficult to locate those who speak out on the complete and utter failure of this “drug war,” which has done nothing but increase the street supply of every substance it has ever purported to reduce. Prohibition raises the price, and this black market attracts more serious players, more violent players, more desperate actors. It also turns our society into a police state and diminishes the Constitutionally protected rights of people to be secure in their homes and possessions.
Also it is not difficult to find alternative approaches around the world, in Europe especially: Portugal, Switzerland, Denmark. Legalization of drugs is clearly not the apocalyptic boogey man that American politicians claim it to be. This is a health issue, not a military issue and not a police issue either: there are much more serious crimes to investigate. Police resources are diverted away from rape, murder, corporate crime, environmental crimes, etc. in order to target the easily swept up low-level dealers. This strategy accomplishes nothing, aside from a monumental waste of resources and a profitable prison industry.
Even the Rand Corporation, an intelligence and analysis outfit connected to CIA and the federal government, came to the conclusion that legalization was a better strategy than militarizing our society against drugs. In the mid 1990s Rand let it be known that every dollar spent on health treatment was worth more than $20 spent toward “interdiction,” if the goal was to actually reduce the amount of drug use in society. The policy of prohibition is twenty-two fold counterproductive.
Drug prohibition has far more sinister effects than simple bookkeeping, however. Murderous drug gangs practically run Mexico, Colombia and many other smaller regional subdivisions throughout the hemisphere. The epidemic of mass murder across Mexico over the past several years was a direct, and predictable, effect of drug traffickers fighting over lucrative import routes. These import routes lead into the USA of course, and these gangs operate on both sides of the borders. They can continue operating indefinitely because profits are all but guaranteed by the US government itself and its absolute failure of a policy.
It recently emerged that the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has been making deals with the Sinaloa Cartel, members of which “sign drug cooperation agreements, subject to results, to enable them to obtain future benefits, including cancellation of [criminal] charges in the US” (El Universal). This is important, even mainstream news in Mexico, but not here across the border. I would argue that the corruption extends to US media too, which often censors its reporting on controversial topics like these.
So, yes, legalization is an important topic. What happens now, every day, simply doesn’t work. Brave officers like Neill Franklin from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) have been citing the facts for many years.
Will America listen?