We Must Eliminate At Least One Of These Wars

Former presidents of Brazil, Mexico, and Columbia write in The Wall Street Journal that the drug war has been a failure:

Prohibitionist policies based on eradication, interdiction and criminalization of consumption simply haven’t worked. Violence and the organized crime associated with the narcotics trade remain critical problems in our countries. Latin America remains the world’s largest exporter of cocaine and cannabis, and is fast becoming a major supplier of opium and heroin. Today, we are further than ever from the goal of eradicating drugs.

Over the last 30 years, Colombia implemented all conceivable measures to fight the drug trade in a massive effort where the benefits were not proportional to the resources invested. Despite the country’s achievements in lowering levels of violence and crime, the areas of illegal cultivation are again expanding. In Mexico — another epicenter of drug trafficking — narcotics-related violence has claimed more than 5,000 lives in the past year alone.

The revision of U.S.-inspired drug policies is urgent in light of the rising levels of violence and corruption associated with narcotics. The alarming power of the drug cartels is leading to a criminalization of politics and a politicization of crime. And the corruption of the judicial and political system is undermining the foundations of democracy in several Latin American countries.

The drug war is also counterproductive for another reason which Randy Barnett points out:

I once asked former Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff if he would be willing to reconsider the War on Drugs since it was obviously providing the financial resources for terrorist organizations. Naturally, he rejected this option as a false choice, and voiced his support for the War on Drugs as the way to reduce drug abuse. But can one be truly serious about the dangers of terrorism if they continue to support the prohibitionist policies that fund the terrorists? If drug prohibition were funding the German or Japanese regimes in WWII, do we really think that it would not have been suspended “for the duration”?

We cannot win both the war on terror and the war on drugs since the war on drugs feeds the war on terror. Neither of these “wars” is actually desirable as envisoned by their conservative supporters.

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  1. 1
    Fritz says:

    Actually, the War on Some Drugs has been a wild success in terms of increasing the scope of government.  It has destroyed the 4th Amendment, for instance.  For conservatives, it has dramatically reduced the number of black males who are allowed to vote.  For liberals (at least in big cities, if not yet nationally), it has been a great reason to reduce the ability of people to legally own guns.

    Oh — you meant as envisioned in their public statements.  That’s different.

  2. 2
    Barry says:

    Maybe we should eliminate all of the State’s “wars”:


  3. 3
    Eclectic Radical says:

    The ‘Global War on Terror’ is, simply put, a con-job.

    Without condoning terrorism, it is the weapon of the ‘have-nots’ against the ‘haves’. Thus, a ‘Global War on Terrorism’ is really a global war against third world denizens with a bagful of grievances against developed nations: a declaration of Western economic imperialism.

    Security against terrorism is a basic function of normal law enforcement, intelligence, and border security practices. If we simply do those things right, there is no need for ‘orange alerts’ or invasions of foreign nations. Nor is there reason for adoption of new and repressive police and security legislation when the problem is not inadequate security policy but rather inadequate performance of security policy in place before the GWOT.

    The ‘War on Drugs’ is worse. Pharamceutical companies charge exhorbitant fees while criminal syndicates get filthy rich and the government is denied a legitimate share of their profits. Prohibition, take two.

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