Misha Glenny has written an amazing article for tomorrow’s Washington Post. It’s extremely rare to see this degree of… reality… in a mainstream publication.
Read the whole thing, but here are a few quotes just to give you an idea:
Thirty-six years and hundreds of billions of dollars after President Richard M. Nixon launched the war on drugs, consumers worldwide are taking more narcotics and criminals are making fatter profits than ever before. The syndicates that control narcotics production and distribution reap the profits from an annual turnover of $400 billion to $500 billion. And terrorist organizations such as the Taliban are using this money to expand their operations and buy ever more sophisticated weapons, threatening Western security.
In the past two years, the drug war has become the Taliban’s most effective recruiter in Afghanistan. […]
The trade in illegal narcotics begets violence, poverty and tragedy. And wherever I went around the world, gangsters, cops, victims, academics and politicians delivered the same message: The war on drugs is the underlying cause of the misery. Everywhere, that is, except Washington, where a powerful bipartisan consensus has turned the issue into a political third rail.
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. […]
The drug trade is so lucrative, he said, that when police seize growing operations in houses worth $500,000, suspects simply abandon the properties. “They are making so much money that they don’t care about losing that investment,” he said. […]
In one particularly revealing conversation, a senior official at the British Foreign Office told me, “I often think we will look back at the War on Drugs in a hundred years’ time and tell the tale of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes.’ This is so stupid.”
How right he is.
Bonus: — Another good article this weekend: Total reform key to war on drugs by Bill Kaufmann