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May 2008
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Ah, that disconnect

Mark L. Schneider has an OpEd in the Christian Science Monitor: Rethink The Fight Against Cocaine
This is another one of those articles that starts out pretty much right on track — identifying the failures of the war on drugs…

Every year, White House officials describe the US counterdrug policies in the same glowing terms used to describe the Emperor’s new clothes: We’re snuffing out coca crops and cracking down on those who grow them. […]
Officials tell us they’ve made progress in eradicating tens of thousands of acres of coca by spraying chemical weed-killer from airplanes protected by heavily armed helicopter gunships.
They tell success stories about hundreds of tons of coca paste and cocaine they’ve seized on Colombian roads and on the high seas. They speak proudly of the coffee, beans, and vegetables harvested under Colombian and US alternative development projects.
But there are key facts missing in their description of the Emperor’s counterdrug-policy wardrobe. When Plan Colombia ( the multibillion dollar US assistance program targeted at curbing drug smuggling and supporting Colombia against armed guerrillas ) started, coca was cultivated in 12 of Colombia’s 34 provinces. Today it is grown in 23 of those provinces.
In 2006, after five years of Plan Colombia, four years of the regional Andean Counterdrug Initiative, and after spending $5.5 billion, some 1,000 metric tons of cocaine were produced between Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. That’s about the same amount that was produced in 2002 when President Alvaro Uribe took office.
The head of the White House Office of Narcotics and Drug Control Program, John Walters, admitted at a press conference in Haiti recently that last year that cocaine production had risen to 1,400 metric tons in 2007 – a whopping 40 percent hike. Not surprisingly, his staff is scrambling to rephrase that.

Yep. A major failure, and an attempt by the government to white-wash it.
Good points, based on the facts.
But then, before long, comes the disconnect — the notion that since there is no reality other than prohibition, any solutions have to come within the constraints of prohibition.
And you can see the pathetic scrambling to come up with something that makes sense when an entire set of options simply doesn’t exist in your brain.
So, since the drug war is a failure, how does Schneider propose “fixing” it? Three points:

  1. Shift to economic development.

    That’s why it’s so important for Washington to support a massive increase in rural infrastructure investment, rural governance, and public service extension into those communities now.

    Fair enough as an idea by itself, but that’s not going to really change anything. And he knows that,

  2. So…

    Certainly for traffickers, the only option is more effective law enforcement that works closely with other nations to go after their money, their assets, and their structures.

    What does that even mean? We haven’t been doing that? This is just nonsensical language that says that since prohibition isn’t working, we must not be trying hard enough, rather than following the logical and rational conclusion that perhaps something else should be tried.

  3. And here’s the final point of disconnect. Somehow magically mobilize the masses of drug users to change their reality to match that of the prohibitionist.

    And a massive public service effort should be launched to target recreational users that equates cocaine use with drunken driving – unacceptable destructive behavior. Their weekend fun kills young people in Colombia and Los Angeles and Miami. It has to stop.

    Really? That’s going to work? What happens if those recreational users know that you’re full of it and that ending the drug war is the way to save those young people in Colombia and Los Angeles? Even if they don’t know this, what makes you think that any kind of PR campaign is going to magically stop drug use? Could you do the same thing with sex? Simply tell everyone to stop having sex in order to stop overpopulation and the spread of STD’s. Right.

How can an intelligent person even propose such nonsense? It’s because they intellectually are stunted — they are unable to conceive of any existence other then prohibition, so they don’t have… reality… to draw upon in their calculations.
Having a discussion about the failure of prohibition without being able to consider a world without it is like trying to do math without using even numbers.

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