A major article in Foreign Policy by Editor in Chief Moisés Naím: Wasted
First, the recognition of the historical disconnect and the damage it causes…
This ‹it doesn‰t work, but don‰t change itŠ incongruity is not just a quirk of the U.S. public. It is a manifestation of how the prohibition on drugs has led to a prohibition on rational thought. ‹Most of my colleagues know that the war on drugs is bankrupt,Š a U.S. senator told me, ‹but for many of us, supporting any form of decriminalization of drugs has long been politically suicidal.Š
As a result of this utter failure to think, the United States today is both the world‰s largest importer of illicit drugs and the world‰s largest exporter of bad drug policy. The U.S. government expects, indeed demands, that its allies adopt its goals and methods and actively collaborate with U.S. drug-fighting agencies. This expectation is one of the few areas of rigorous continuity in U.S. foreign policy over the last three decades.
A second, and more damaging, effect comes from the U.S. emphasis on curtailing the supply abroad rather than lowering the demand at home. The consequence: a transfer of power from governments to criminals in a growing number of countries. In many places, narcotraffickers are the major source of jobs, economic opportunity, and money for elections.
Then, the tentative movement from that stupidity…
Fortunately, there are some signs that the blind support for prohibition is beginning to wane among key Washington elites. One surprising new convert? The Pentagon. Senior U.S. military officers know both that the war on drugs is bankrupt and that it is undermining their ability to succeed in other important missions, such as winning the war in Afghanistan. When Gen. James L. Jones, a former Marine Corps commandant and supreme allied commander in Europe, was asked last November why the United States was losing in Afghanistan, he answered: ‹The top of my list is the drugs and narcotics, which are, without question, the economic engine that fuels the resurgent Taliban, and the crime and corruption in the country. . . . We couldn‰t even talk about that in 2006 when I was there. That was not a topic that anybody wanted to talk about, including the U.S.Š
Moisés nails it with the conclusion…
The addiction to a failed policy has long been fueled by the self-interest of a relatively small prohibitionist community–and enabled by the distraction of the American public. But as the costs of the drug war spread from remote countries and U.S. inner cities to the rest of society, spending more to cure and prevent than to eradicate and incarcerate will become a much more obvious idea. Smarter thinking on drugs? That should be the real no-brainer.