This past weekend at “The Summit of the Americas” in Columbia, President Barrack Obama met with 33 different heads of state to discuss issues which are important to the diplomacy between these many countries. Much to the Obama administration’s dismay, the main topic at this summit was the drug war, or more specifically ending the drug war by legalizing drugs.
The Western establishment has successfully painted the legalization movement as a bunch of disgruntled hippies who just want to get high; however, like many political memes this statement offers a gross oversimplification of the real topic at hand. Now, with many of the countries close political allies suggesting legalization that myth is starting to hold less and less weight among the general public. These foreign politicians are obviously not demanding a change to drug policy because they want to get high, politicians aren’t subject to their own laws, so they can get high all they want. What they are pointing out are the hidden costs of the drug war and the impact that it has on innocent people, which the Western establishment refuses to address.
These costs aren’t so much hidden, they are obvious to anyone who has studied the history of alcohol prohibition, but they are hidden in the sense that they are never talked about, and to mention these issues in the political arena is completely taboo. First off, the war on drugs has failed miserably at its stated goal of reducing drug addiction. This is no mistake, like many ideas to come out of Washington, the stated goal of this project is extremely different from its actual goals. If we want to discover the real motives behind these measures, we must look at what they actually accomplish instead of just accepting the governments cover story at face value, like all too many people do.
What the drug war actually accomplishes is the establishment of black markets and gangs, the erosion of personal liberties, the expansion of the prison system and prison population as well as a constant excuse for frivolous government spending. This hypothesis has been tested time and time again, anytime throughout history where a ruling power has prohibited the consumption or possession of ANY ITEM WHATSOEVER. This process was made quite clear during the alcohol prohibition of the 1920s and 1930s. As we saw with alcohol prohibition, making a substance illegal does nothing to stifle its use, but simply creates outlaws out of nonviolent people and foments a culture of violence that the rest of society is forced to deal with, even if they have no interest at all in the banned substance.
Alcohol prohibition was successful at creating and empowering gangsters like Al Capone, who were many times assisted by an equally menacing and corrupt police force that continued to multiply in size so they could handle the persecution of nonviolent people who took part in the forbidden practice of drinking alcohol. Although as I mentioned prohibition even put the nondrinkers of the time into serious danger, as now they ran the risk of getting caught up in the crossfire of a gang turf war or police shootout. Not to mention the emotional torment of watching friends and family have their lives turned upside down due to a nonviolent crime. Much like today, during the times of prohibition almost everyone was acquainted with at least one person who was facing some sort of legal trouble for a nonviolent offense.
So why haven’t we learned our lesson after all of this madness? Well sadly, most of us do know the truth about prohibition, even those in government. Well then if that is the case, then why haven’t these laws been repealed? A Freudian slip made by Hillary Clinton a few months back can give us some insight into the answer of this question. If I myself wasn’t facing drug charges, with many nonviolent friends in cages as well, there is no doubt that I would find this absolutely hilarious. Unfortunately, since I grasp the reality of this situation that we’re all in, my sense of humor is very dull on this subject.
This past January, Clinton was interviewed during a visit to Mexico, where the violent reality of drug cartels has pushed legalization into the spotlight. During the interview, Clinton was asked this very question: “In Mexico, there are those who propose not keeping going with this battle and legalize drug trafficking and consumption. What is your opinion?”
I don’t think that will work. I mean, I hear the same debate. I hear it in my country. It is not likely to work. There is just too much money in it, and I don’t think that – you can legalize small amounts for possession, but those who are making so much money selling, they have to be stopped. They can’t be given an even easier road to take, because they will then find it in their interest to addict even more young people. Mexico didn’t have much of a drug problem before the last 10 years, and you want to keep it that way. So you don’t want to give any excuse to the drug traffickers to be able legally to addict young people.
Real quickly, let’s point out that she started telling the truth then caught herself and broke off into a sentence that had no relation to the one prior to it, or any real relation to the question at all. This is an obvious backtrack on where her statement was going and a typical move that we see from politicians every time they open their mouths. Realizing that she made a vital error answering the question she unloads fallacy after fallacy, appeal to fear, appeal to guilt, and neglected aspect. She immediately jumps to vilify drug dealers (who wouldn’t exist without prohibition), then she reaches for the “save the children” guilt trip, which she repeats multiple times. What is very interesting here is that she mentioned Mexico’s drug problem as being relatively new, but failed to link the escalation of the drug war and government actions as possible causal factors. I’m also sure that she was safe to lowball the actual length of Mexico’s drug problem, that way it didn’t directly line up with the establishment of drug prohibition.
Sadly, as Clinton said “there is just too much money in it” for the government to legalize drugs. They benefit greatly from the war on drugs, as Eric Blair of Activist Post recently pointed out in his article “10 Ways the War on Drugs is a Wild Success”. With so much power and money at stake for the Western establishment, Obama replied to world leaders this weekend by saying that he basically doesn’t mind talking about drug legalization but its not going to happen. Again, I would be laughing if this was a laughing matter.
Until we come to the understanding that it is prohibition that is actually causing the violence¸ cartelization and addiction problems that are being experienced by the people of this earth, we will be running around in circles debating how to tweak the policy when it is actually the very existence of the policy itself which is preventing us from making any progress. However, the fact that the drug war is becoming so unpopular in other parts of the world can signify a changing of the tides in relation to this issue and can add more credibility to a movement that has been struggling to be taken seriously in the mainstream dialogue.
This article originally appeared at Alchemy of the Modern Renaissance
J.G. Vibes is an author, and artist — with an established record label. In addition to featuring a wide variety of activist information, his company Good Vibes Promotions hosts politically charged electronic dance music events. You can keep up with him and his new book Alchemy of the Modern Renaissance, at his website www.aotmr.com.