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It's the violence and death

It is unconscionable in this day that there are still masses of the American public who think that “legalization” is something you whisper about with a knowing grin that it’s merely a ploy for hippies to have the opportunity to smoke pot and watch a Cheech and Chong movie.

The discussions that we have regarding drug policy are literally matters of life and death and they need to be engaged by the public with that sense of urgency.

People need to read about the Drug War Victims and the rest of the violence that is part and parcel of prohibition.

Read Philip Smith’s piece at Stop the Drug War: Law Enforcement: Drug Cops Kill Two in Two Days in Drug Raids in Florida and Tennessee. Real tragedies.

Oh, the police investigations will say that the police acted properly in self-defense, and to an extent, they’ll be right. But the situation leading to death should never have been set up in the beginning. It was prohibition, and then the tactics of prohibition enforcement, that led to those people dying.

And now, after tens of thousands of Mexicans dying senselessly in our drug war down there, we have a “real” tragedy.

Suspected drug cartel hit men have gunned down three people who worked at the U.S. consulate in the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez.

A consulate employee and her husband, both U.S. citizens, were shot dead in their car and the husband of a Mexican employee at the consulate was also killed in a drive-by shooting. […]

President Barack Obama said he was ‘deeply saddened and outraged’ by the killings.

Outraged, I tell you!

As well he should be. But what will be the outcome of such outrage? Probably more violence.

In The New Drug War We’ve Already Met, Blake Hounshell asks

So what is Obama going to do about it? His administration has asked for $450 million from Congress to bolster Mexico’s security and counter-narcotics forces with new equipment, including helicopters and surveillance aircraft, as an extension of George W. Bush’s Merida Initiative. That’s on top of the $700 million Congress allocated for 2008 and 2009. Central America has gotten another couple hundred million. Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Venezuela outlined a number of other related initiatives during his recent congressional testimony.

If you ask me, it all seems like doubling down on a failed strategy — a typical example of trying to solve a social and political problem through military and technical means. […]

So are the Obamans smart enough to know better, but trapped by politics and afraid to try a bold new approach? Or do they really believe in the drug war?

You have to be completely oblivious to the world around you to think that the drug war is going to stop the violence. And the same is true about the drug war’s ability to stop the drugs. While Mexico is distracting us from Afghanistan and Colombia, it’s important to note that after decades of fighting, we’re still seeing Why the war on drugs in Colombia may never be won, and eradication efforts in Afghanistan seem almost laughably absurd given the fact that it has produced in recent years significantly more heroin than the entire world demand, so that estimates are that several years worth may be stockpiled.

But here’s the part that really gets me. Prohibitionists will often say that they are motivated by life. There’s was a statement made by Costa, the UN drug czar, last year that really stuck with me.

Some even say that the costs of prohibition far outweigh the benefits (although there is no body count of people who haven’t died thanks to drug control versus those who have been killed in the crossfire).

And there you have it. That’s the people we’re supposed to protect. Not the scared person in their home with men in black busting down the door. Not the embassy personnel, or the teenagers at their birthday party gunned down by cartels. Not any of the folks on the drug war victims page.

No, we’re supposed to protect the unknown people who would have died from drugs if we hadn’t been killing all these other people.

We must assume, despite all evidence, that without the drug war, thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people would rush out and die from drugs, who otherwise wouldn’t have. This is absurd on its face. And all evidence that we have points to the fact that expectation of such an outcome is ridiculous.

In fact, there is as much evidence that we would be able to reduce the number who die from drugs if we actually put drugs under a system of real control, instead of the faux control of prohibition. Certainly, we could dramatically cut the number of drug overdoses in currently illicit drugs if dosage and purity were controlled. Better fact-based education and providing help without fear of arrest will save even more lives. An we’ll save some lives in the substitution of marijuana over alcohol.

Let’s save some lives, people.

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28 comments to It’s the violence and death

  • re the recent shootings in Mexico…

    I was watching NBC evening news last night and in their coverage Brian Williams says “…and 3 Americans died in Mexico…” GACK!

    I get so irked when I hear that from people who should know better. Mexico is America Brian! There are 3 American continents… criminy…

  • ezrydn

    Here’s part of the problem. It’s a “copy/paste” of a section of Howard’s “Stories from the Hill” email.

    At a House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting this week our Deputy Secretary of State for the Americas, Mr. Valenzuela was asked by the chairman about the murders of 16 school kids at a birthday party in Mexico. His response was ‘the murders were a sign of success’ of the policy of Mexican President Calderone. I did not believe my ears. After the hearing I asked 2 others if I had heard correctly. Yes. I reviewed the tape at home. Yup. Like body counts in Vietnam and Iraq, dead students are a sign of success. Who knew?

    This is the upper level mentality that drives the death rate. Those of us who were in combat are all too familiar with “body count” numbering.

    It’s interesting that the Mexicans I’m around don’t seem to hold the same opinion as Mr. Valensuela. Prohibs hogtied themselves when they adopted the term “war” because wars are either won or lost. No in between. Now, they’re locked into that mindset. Oblivious to logic, reason or compassion.

  • ezrydn

    You slipped in while I was posting, Allan. However, THANK YOU for that bit of enlightenment. You have NO idea how many people don’t understand that fact! The southern limit of America isn’t Ciudad Juarez. It’s Guatamala! North America is 3 countries! Not ONE.

  • ez… the southern limit of America is Tierra del Fuego. Everyone between there and the Arctic Circle (no, not the drive-in burger joint!) are Americans.

    I think in some minds there is a block to understanding that simple fact. Ethnocentric snobbery?

  • Matthew Meyer

    >The southern limit of America isn’t Ciudad Juarez. It’s Guatamala!

    Some of my friends in Brazil might take issue with that…try Tierra del Fuego!

    (In truth, everywhere I’ve been in Latin America, people know who they are talking about when they say “americano.” There are more specific terms, like “estadunidense,” but that doesn’t really get us off the hook, since Mexico’s official name is the “Estados Unidos Mexicanos.”)

  • […] here: It’s the violence and death – Drug WarRant Tags: Afghanistan, after-decades, colombia, may-never, mexico, still-seeing, war Share this […]

  • kaptinemo

    Yep, so long as it’s ‘little brown brother’ getting the chop, nobody gives a damn, but let some gringos get whacked, and it’s (hysterically, eyes-wide and hands waving in air) “OMG! OMG! OMG!”

    If that doesn’t prove that the underpinning of the drug laws is an almost unconscious, inchoate racism, I don’t know what will.

  • Dante

    Violence and Death?

    Nope. It’s the jobs.

    Law Enforcement jobs, prison jobs, prosecutor jobs, bailiff jobs, drug-court reporter jobs, DEA jobs, ATF jobs, CIA jobs, FBI jobs, ………

    How many jobs would be eliminated if the drug war suddenly ended?

    Too many, apparently.

    Protect & Serve (Themselves!)

  • claygooding

    Allan,I think there is only 1 continent,since the only water between north and south is man made. It is continuous
    land from the top too the bottom,except for the canal.
    It is split into three regions by people but not by nature.

    As long as the world economy relies on marijuana,and the mega rich are the ones running this show,we will continue with this senseless war.
    The announcement last summer by the UN drug czar that most major banks would have failed if not for the drug money pretty well sums it up. And marijuana is the largest part of that economic savior.
    The US drug czar acts like the drug trade is a big organized crime syndicate,but look around you. How many “dealers” do you know? Multiply that by 100 that you don’t know and you might be close. There are so many people of this world that depend on drugs too put food on their table that the ending of prohibition would devastate a lot more than the cartels in Mexico.
    The legalization of marijuana 1 state at a time will soften the blow considerably,allowing time for society and the industries that depend on prohibition
    the chance of redirecting their efforts towards a less profitable enterprise,without just slamming the door on them.
    The only other option would be too overgrow the government and the financial industry. They can’t lock us all up and they need us more than we need them.

  • not a single government job would be eliminated by ending the drug war: those people would be “re-purposed” — for good or ill.

  • kaptinemo

    Well, Brian, a lot of DrugWarriors might disagree.

    From DEAWatch:

    13 Mar 2010, 16:49 PST, 4th Edition

    “Keep your hi-hatted ethics away from my DEA paycheck”:

    Earlier today someone wrote: “… The good people in our agency cannot fight crime because the morons who support the obstructionists are a bigger problem than the drug criminals… and our Administrator is on the side of the morons.”

    Quit talking foolishness. Don’t you know we’re still in a recession? Have you tried to find another job lately? Even all the S&L’s are working second jobs as Walmart security guards.

    We need to continue letting drugs come in so that we have jobs and paychecks. If a stupid American wants to use drugs that is their decision. I have (D/W redacted) kids who are still in grade school. If you want to talk about getting the Cuban army to go after drug dealers as OAS cops, go ahead. But don’t do it until my kids are out of college!

    If you want to be Mr. Johnny High Hat G-Man go to work for the Feebs. But keep your stinking ethics off my DEA paycheck!

    The words may have been offered partly in jest, but only partly. They know that most of them wouldn’t last a minute in a factory setting (and that’s if there were any factory jobs left); they’d actually have to work as hard as I did after they ruined me. Starting all over again in middle age is tough as can be, when you’re competing with younger workers. And they know that.

    Which is why I can’t wait to see them get furloughed…permanently. Payback’s a bitch, and revenge is a dish best served cold. And with this Great Recession-That-We-Don’t-Want-To-Call-A-Depression, it’s damned cold outside…

  • glarbl_blarbl

    Thanks for this Pete. These are the facts and arguments which are unassailable, except for the moronic or the evil. To me it all boils down to one simple observation:

    Prohibition is Morally Wrong, while it fails to accomplish its intended goal it leaves a swath of ended and destroyed lives.

  • ezrydn

    Ok, guys. My bad. I tend to chop the continent into three parts, Northern, Central and Southern. I’m sorta old school that way. I should have said North America stops at the Guatamala border.

  • aussidawg

    Allen “I was watching NBC evening news last night and in their coverage Brian Williams says “…and 3 Americans died in Mexico…” GACK!

    I get so irked when I hear that from people who should know better. Mexico is America Brian! There are 3 American continents… criminy…”

    Heh, many years ago I was riding a t-bar up to the top of a ski slope with a Canadian fellow in Ontario. He asked me : “are you one of those dumb Americans?”

    Ahem…

  • […] It’s the violence and death – Drug WarRant […]

  • kaptinemo

    Partially related: Moody’s warns nations to cut spending or risk AAA ratings

    What does that mean for us? It means that it is becoming ever more apparent that Uncle Sam needs to make deep cuts in spending or risk being classified as a bad debtor.

    And that means that the real budgetary axes will have to be taken out of mothballs and replace the flimsy, plastic symbolic ones that have been used up to this point. And that means the budgetary bloodbath is about to begin. And one target that stands out head-and-shoulders above all the patently wasteful domestic and international operations Uncle Sam runs is the DrugWar and the bureaucracies that serve it.

    I can hardly wait…

  • ezrydn

    I saw that AG Holder was before some committee today, discussing the Justice Department budget. A lot of “hummm–haaaa–uhhhh.” That funny, high-pitched sound you hear aren’t the pigs squeeling. It’s the thumbscrews beginning their inward journey.

    Now, it’s our turn to ask the question, “What are you willing to give up?” Your paycheck, kid’s college, new boat, a new handful of phatt iron? You can’t afford to become a “commoner” because “too many people know you.”

    There is NO “hands off” when it comes to my tax dollar.

  • Just me

    A thought on wars:

    Killing for peace is like F#@king for chastity.

    I dont know if this is a new or old saying but makes sense.

    Tax dollars…what are they really? Well , you trade a part of your life (in time) for an agreed upon amount of money. Theres no gain there , just a trade . Income taxes are stated as being a tax on a gain.There is no gain in our paycheck, So we are robbed of our life(time) and it is spent foolishly on failed policies.

    Tax dollars = our life wasted to ruin and kill other lives.

    Great public policies we have.Im so glad a select few have decided to waste my life and others for us.

    The sooner people start seeing it this way the better.

  • Malcolm Kyle

    It’s nearly 2300 here, I’ve got my feet up, only the radio’s on, and it’s tuned to the BBC World Service. Their coverage of the recent shenanigans in Juarez is excellent; 10 minutes ago, they had Sheriff Joe Arpaio on the line. The interviewer was left clearly confounded by Arpaio’s take on events. I was forced to snort two teaspoonfuls of my vodka and Bud tincture. It definitely helped (;>)

  • DdC

    “So what we’re facing is a failed drug policy, but we can never admit that. That’s a sacred cause here. We’re a twelve-pack nation that won’t let anybody have a joint.”
    ~ Charles Bowden

    Charles Bowden on “The War Next Door” excerpts full transcript straight from the hip.
    Tuesday, March 16, 2010
    Charles Bowden, reporter who has extensively covered the drug violence in Mexico. He is author of the forthcoming book, Murder City: Ciudad Juárez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields. His latest article for High Country News is called The War Next Door.

    What happened is what happens every weekend: death. What is different, or was the reason you’re calling me, is because US citizens were killed, who worked for the consulate.

    What we’re doing is what the—you know, we have three policies that affect Mexico. One, we have the free trade agreement, which has bankrupted small farmers in the country and destroyed small industry in the country. Two, we have an immigration policy which means a Mexican would have to live 150 years to get a visa to move to the United States, which has unleashed the largest human migration on earth. And three, we have our war on drugs, which over the course of forty years has made drugs in our country of higher quality more available and enriched a bunch of criminals in Mexico and the United States. That’s our policy.

    We’re spending $30 to $40 billion a year on narcotics officers in this country. Every state in the union, if you get out of the house and drive, is now studded with little prisons, some private. They’re all dependent on the—on laws outlawing drugs. The income from drugs in Mexico exceeds all other sources of foreign currency, except possibly oil, and that’s debatable. In other words, if President Calderon succeeded in his claimed goal of eradicating the drug industry in Mexico, Mexico would collapse in a minute. That’s what I mean.

    Meet the new drug war, same as the old drug war
    Mar 15 2010

    Research Shows Smoking Weed In Rehab Is Okay
    Mar 15 2010

  • strayan

    Costa is a moron and isn’t isn’t taken to task for what he says by anyone. He gets away with it because there’s no threat of discipline, any type of formal penalty or censure. It has turned the UNODC into a joke.

    I’m beyond accepting the views fools like these. Intolerance can be a virtue:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jan/01/intolerance-virtue

  • jewel

    One young woman is fighting back. Abigail Marilyn Ayers, the widow of Jonathan Paul Ayers, filed suit against three officers with the Mountain Judicial Circuit Narcotics Suppression Unit as well as the sheriffs of Habersham and Stephens counties.
    http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/news/article/30790/

    I don’t know if Abigail has a clue as to just how many innocent victims this hateful drug war continues to leave in its wake, or just how much support she might have for her courageous actions. There is not yet a single voice in the comments section of the article.

    Hey Pete, could you add Pastor Jonathan Paul Ayers to your victims page?

  • jewel

    Update:
    Abigail did her homework on Harrison:
    Link

  • Bruce

    Interesting Pete; what you spoke of in the previous thread regarding tobacco.;
    The PACT Act passed by unanimous consent without a vote or a hearing late the evening of March 11. The act bans the shipment of cigarettes and certain tobacco products through the U.S. Postal Service

  • Bruce

    OOps sorry it was Kap’n Nemo, on the coming inevitibility of tobacco prohibition…

  • DavesNotHere

    War is bad, mmmkay. Locking human beings in cages based on an arbitrary list of drugs is a barbaric practice demonstrated by the deaths we see regularly. For every Corey Haim, there is a Rev. Ayers, and an Afghan child, and a Columbian, and a Mexican family, and US citizens in Mexico, and many avoidable deaths.

    Educate, legalize, and regulate.

    Same goes with tobacco, but they start with and expand the regulate instead of the education, with Swedish Snus and bad 2nd hand smoke propaganda science as evidence of that. You know, getting tobacco users on our side and active wouldn’t be a bad thing at all. 20% of the population, not counting cigars and pipes? And who out there is looking after the rights of tobacco users, even on the little stuff? What happens when they wake up one day and look at the science between the addictive qualities of cannabis and nicotine?

    Tobacco doesn’t have to be smoked any more than cannabis has to be, by the way. “Regulation” by government idiot central control freaks has halted tobacco/nicotine innovation. The Progressive movement in the State of Washington DID legally prohibit tobacco/cigarettes in our history as one example at the turn of the 1900s, it wasn’t just the sin of alcohol.

  • DdC

    Are US Pot Laws the Root Cause of Mexican Drug Violence?
    60 percent of the profits reaped by Mexican drug lords are derived from the exportation and sale of cannabis to the American market.