Drug-war bullying

Brian Doherty (of Reason Magazine) explains in today’s LA Times how little effect the changed drug law in Mexico would have had, and notes the U.S. Government’s disproportionate response, concluding with:

Americans angry about Mexican immigration complain that the country is exporting its troubles to us. In fact, with our drug-war bullying, we’re exporting our enforcement troubles back to Mexico, adding to the problems that make so many people want to come here to begin with.
The White House’s disproportionate panic can’t be explained by any actual damage the law could have caused. Maybe U.S. drug warriors realized that if we saw firsthand, right across the border, just how unnecessary are the laws against drug possession, the futility of making 1.7 million drug arrests each year would be exposed, and that’s never a happy thought for any bureaucrat. In Amsterdam, where pot, hash and mushrooms can be sold freely in certain shops, surveyed use of most drugs is lower than in the United States, illustrating that legalization does not equal everyone getting high. The social order still stands.
Experienced drug users have an ethic: You don’t force other people on your trip against their will. Pity that U.S. drug policymakers can’t be that sensible.

The U.S. Government has worked very hard to export its drug war around the world. Not only to protect the drug war itself, but to use it as a tool to control or influence other countries. This fact made DEA head Karen Tandy’s opening remarks at the DEA conference in Montreal earlier this week seem especially chilling to me.

We have come a long way in 24 years. It is staggering to think that back then, we all fit around a single conference table. And look at us now. [..]
We have amassed the largest IDEC contingent ever with 76 countries. Stretching from the southern tip of Africa to northern Europe to the Far East, 7 new countries became members this year, (Afghanistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa and United Kingdom) and 6 are joining us for the first time ever (Denmark, Ghana, Kyrgyzstan, Sweden, UAE and Vietnam).

Although there are countries (particularly in Europe) willing to begin to stand up to U.S. drug-war bullying, it’s a tough thing to do, particularly when you face both the unfair label of being soft on drugs, and pressure from the world’s superpower.

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