How America Lost the War on Drugs

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Iscariot, Dec 17, 2007.

  1. Iscariot macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

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    #1
    6 page, 15,000 word essay on how America Lost the War on Drugs, by Ben Wallace-Wells. Written for Rolling Stone magazine.

    link

    I decided to look into this after a discussion with Naimfan. I found certain aspects to be particularly interesting, like how meth very well could have been nipped in the bud were it not for protecting the pharmaceuticals industry, and that (no surprise here) treatment is mathematically more effective than policing the source. However, as somone who lives in a country with a fairly different drug policy, I'd like to hear the thoughts of Americans and those with more experience on the topic.
     
  2. 66217 Guest

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    Jan 30, 2006
    #2
    Well, I haven't read the article (I'll try tomorrow), but I'll try and give some info on how drugs is much a bigger problem than just the damage they make to the people that consume them. Sometimes is not about keeping people from getting drugs (which I think is near impossible), but of destroying the mafia behind it.

    At least in my country (Mexico), and I am sure it is similar in the US, the big problem of drugs is the people that distribute them, they make of the cities a complete mayhem. And I am not talking about the guys that sell them, but the ones in charge of seeing that they reach the sellers. This guys would kidnap, bribe, or kill without thinking twice. Many cities of my country converted into war zones with the fights between drug dealers. Even my city, which is quite large with 3.5 million people, was for some couple of months insecure because of the constant killings that occurred. It was common to see that someone was killed in the morning news (the only "good" thing is that they killed between themselves, not many innocent lives were taken).

    It only started to fix when the military interfered, and drug dealers started to get either caught or killed.

    In my personal opinion drug addicts would never end, so drug production would continues to exist. The big question is wether you want the drug dealers to produce it, or would you prefer the government make it legal and put some subsidised companies to produce it?
    And the problems is that the latter would only work if governments across America made that, or at least that Mexico, USA, Canada and some Central American countries legalized drugs.
     
  3. shikimo macrumors 6502

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    #3
    Thanks for posting the article; that was an interesting read. I have followed this situation for decades, first while growing up and living/working in the US and then from abroad in recent years, and this article is, in my opinion, a decent summary of what's gone wrong. First, however, a few little criticisms:

    1) The elephant in the bushes in this article is the substantial, if not 100% watertight, evidence that the CIA was intimitely and systematically involved in the introduction and promotion of cocaine and its derivitaves in American cities. This is a separate can of worms and no use getting into it here, but I think everyone would agree that there is enough evidence to make it relevant to an article like this. I am not sure why he left it untouched...and no help in the interview either. Maybe he just wanted to stay focused on the specifics of his research, which I can appreciate, but if the DEA was also fighting the CIA, in addition to everyone else involved, to keep cocaine off the streets...that's a pretty big piece of the puzzle, at least during the years that the CIA was allegedly involved.

    2) He slips into proto-typical RS anti-establishment journalism a couple of times, most notably in his description of the RAND Corporation. Does it have a creepy, Illuminati-esque element to it? Absolutely. But so does General Electric, Boeing and maybe even Microsoft. These people also do an enormous quantity of research in all kinds of sectors that have little to do with national defense or weird, covert international power-cabals. It is amusing that, later in the article, some of the more sane, rational and progressive suggestions for US drug policy come from this very entity that he labels 'Strangelove-esque.'

    3) The author misdates the introduction of the term 'gateway drug': contrary to his suggestion that it emerged in the 1990s, I remember clearly hearing it in hushed tones in middle-school health classes in the late 1970s, and it has been an important part of anti-marijuana rhetoric for at least that long.

    What I think he does wonderfully, however--in addition to pointing out that this is not a Republican/Democrat issue at all--is underscore a certain mentality that is quite common in America, something I never became aware of until spending some serious time abroad, reading about my country in other languages and trying (to the greatest extent possible) to see it from a non-American perspective. Namely, we have a strong attachment to the idea that 'justice', whatever the current version of it may be, should never bend to circumstances; the only response to intransigence is to 'stay the course' until the good guys prevail, hopefully before firing their weapons but not necessarily. Sometimes this is a good thing; many of the things I miss about the US are tied in one way or another to this ideal. Sometimes, though, it results in a stubbornness, a 'god guns and guts'-fueled unwillingness to listen to good evidence that mandates flexibility...specifically in this case, we elect politicians who are 'tough on crime', who are then unwilling to risk being seen as 'soft on crime' by listening to advice that runs against this mentality, even when it works. For example, I really think that these guys BELIEVE marijuana is a gateway drug, even though evidence suggests otherwise, just like they believe that one day they will lock up the last dealer, burn the last coca field and blow up the last meth lab. Although admittedly sometimes fueled by economic and political agendas (like the Sikorsky helicopter e.g. in the article), I think it wouldn't work without an ideological structure to justify it.

    The 'war on drugs' will only be won when people in charge realize that it isn't a war at all; human beings have been inventing ways of intoxicating themselves since the beginning of time, but it is only recently (the Opium Wars of 1838-41 are the first examples I know of??) that it has become an object of armed conflict. Which one of these tendencies are we going to try and limit?
     
  4. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #4
    The danged war was already lost when Nixon named it the "War on Drugs". What, 1973? Nobody had learned anything from the Noble Experiment called Prohibition.

    Once there is a black market, the artificially inflated prices create a free market among competing suppliers. Since the whole deal is illegal, violence readily becomes part of the equation.

    The suppliers want money; the governments want power. "Nothing new under the sun."

    'Rat
     
  5. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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  6. shikimo macrumors 6502

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    #6
    So my (rather wealthy) Brazilian friend wasn't kidding when she said that people ride around in choppers to avoid the dangers of the streets...

    The Santa article, in the context of the RS article, really made me wonder who exactly the 'drug traffickers' are, who they are buddies with, what they do besides traffic drugs, and perhaps most importantly what they would be doing if illegal drugs weren't so valuable on the US market.
     
  7. Iscariot thread starter macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

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    #7
    What I find most interesting is the Boston Gun Project. The idea that violence is not because of turf wars or a means to an end, but rather because of peer pressure and the politics of bullying and being "tough".

    That detterence, in this case, actually worked.
     

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