war on drugs and the Taliban/national security
Another excellent article in Sunday's C-J on the War on Drugs (and it ties in nicely to an earlier post)....The primary thesis:
The Taliban is becoming richer and stronger by the day, especially in the east and south of the country. The "war on drugs" is defeating the "war on terror."
Why the War is so difficult to fight-- if not futile-- and loaded with massive unintended ethical and practical consequences...
The war on drugs is the underlying cause of the misery...The problem starts with prohibition, the basis of the war on drugs. The theory is that if you hurt the producers and consumers of drugs badly enough, they'll stop doing what they're doing. But instead, the trade goes underground, which means that the state's only contact with it is through law enforcement, i.e., busting those involved, whether producers, distributors or users. So vast is the demand for drugs in the United States, the European Union and the Far East that nobody has anything approaching the ability to police the trade. Prohibition gives narcotics huge added value as a commodity. Once traffickers get around the business risks -- getting busted or being shot by competitors -- they stand to make vast profits.
The data are indicative of the practical failure/difficulties:
Supply is so plentiful that the price of a gram of heroin is plummeting in Europe, especially in the United Kingdom. According to the UNODC, the street price of a gram of cocaine in the United States is now less than $70, compared with $184 in 1990. Adjusted for inflation, that's a threefold drop.
Another great point:
The collapse of communism and the rise of globalization in the late 1980s and early 1990s gave transnational criminality a tremendous boost. The expansion of world trade and financial markets has provided criminals ample opportunity to broaden their activities. But there has been no comparable increase in the ability of the Western world to police global crime.
And finally, a closing remark on the unfortunate politics of this tough but important issue:
In Washington, the war on drugs has been a third-rail issue since its inauguration. It's obvious why -- telling people that their kids can do drugs is the kiss of death at the ballot box. But that was before 9/11. Now the drug war is undermining Western security throughout the world.
There are no easy answers here. In any case, we should have (and promote) healthy discussions about the ethical and practical implications of prohibition, decriminalization, and legalization-- for both domestic and foreign policy.