Thursday, June 02, 2011

A Failure of a War

by Dick Mac

War is a terrible thing.

I remember this poster from the 1960s that said: "War is not healthy for children and other living things." It seems so quaint now, but no less true. I also remember it being in full color, but I can't find that image anywhere.

Americans have not had a very good experience with war in my lifetime. Sure there have been some victories; but we've fought to a draw, or downright lost, a few, too.

The worst wars, those that cost the most and return the lowest level of success are the fake wars: the war on terrorism and the war on drugs come to mind.

The war on drugs has been such a failure that I am surprised more Americans have not concluded that the military must be protecting the drug trade.

The war on drugs has been as successful as our war on alcohol, in the early part of the last century. That is, it has been a complete, total, and absolute failure.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy has pronounced that the war on drugs is not working and that drug enforcement policy needs to fundamentally change. They are suggesting a policy switch that shifts the emphasis away from crime (drug use should never be a crime) to public health (untreated drug addiction costs society a fortune).

American conservatives will lose their minds over this of course, because they need to blame someone for their hatred of all things and it's easy to blame drug users and entire nations that produce drugs (but not the United States corporations that produce drugs, or right-wing radio hosts who are addicted to drugs).

By criminalizing drug use, conservatives get to sit on their high horse and pretend they are morally better than others and scare taxpayers into giving them bundles of money for their fake war against drugs.

Let's be clear about something: there is no evidence that the funds for the war on drugs were ever used to prevent the importation of drugs. Billions and billions of dollars worth of drugs flow freely into our country with only tiny amounts intercepted.

Let's compare this to the military's campaign against bananas. Yes, bananas.

In 2000, the war on bananas being fought between the European Union and the United States was finally resolved. When the EU was formed in the early 1990s, they implemented banana importation laws that favored their former colonies. This conflicted with US policy that favored the distribution of bananas from states controlled by US corporations.

If you remember, in the autumn of 2000 and early 2001, the United States Navy was able to blockade every ship carrying bananas that fell outside of the US plan. It was impressive! Not a single banana controlled by non-US interests made it through!

Oddly, though, that same military is unable to stop the flow of cocaine from the exact same region. Hmmmmmmmm . . .

Let's go back twenty years earlier than that. When Ronald Reagan became president, he promised an end to marijuana importation. The cost of reefer sky-rocketed as the Navy blockaded the Caribbean and stopped all the marijuana from getting to US ports. In the end, this was a major plus for marijuana consumers, as the domestically-grown product was far superior. Again, the Navy was able to stop everything they wanted to stop.

When the marijuana importation business was crippled, and the domestic crop had yet to be properly developed, cocaine replaced reefer as the drug of choice among white, middle-class Americans. Although the military was able to stop all the marijuana from making it to shore, and two decades later would succeed at preventing all the bananas from making it ashore, it was not able to stop the cocaine.

I have always found this rather suspicious. Call me a cynic, but it seems somewhat odd.

Well, it was Reagan's draconian marijuana policies that helped define both the war on drugs and the shift of drug use from relatively benign marijuana to incredibly dangerous cocaine.

Our War On Drugs has been an absolute failure. There is nothing the Reaganites (so-called conservatives) can point to and say: 'you see, the war on drugs was successful.' Billions and billions of dollars have been given to private security firms, military contractors and foreign governments, and no tangible result has been seen.

All this time (THIRTY YEARS), liberals have maintained that the war on drugs is a failure and money should be spent on treatment and education, not interdiction and imprisonment.

Come now, anti-American socialists like former Secretary of State George Shultz and Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, Paul Volcker, who . . oh, wait a minute . . . these guys aren't socialists at all; but they are saying America policy is wrong.

This commission is filled with our allies, client states, and the aforementioned Americans, and they have issued a report proclaiming that our drug policy is a failure.

Thank goodness!

Download their report here.

A report about the banana war.

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