A very insightful article by Juan Gabriel Tokatlian in the Guardian (UK): The only winner in the ‘war on drugs’: The real effect of militarising drugs policy in Latin America has been to cement the hegemony of the US Southern Command
As always with the war on drugs, it’s so important to look at the money, and look at the power. Know who benefits in both those areas, and you know the real players pushing for prohibition.
One of the most interesting and challenging paradoxes of debate on the “war on drugs” is how little examination there has been of its major warrior: the military. In Latin America, that means the US Southern Command (SouthCom). […]
At first, there was a certain reluctance on the part of the military to being sucked into an unconventional, politically-driven fight against the illegal drug trade. But they were eventually won over to participation in anti-narcotics efforts â€“ thanks, in part, to growing anti-drug budgets approved by Congress. […]
After 9/11 and the rise of the so-called “new threats” (the supposed amalgamation of international terrorism, organised crime, drug trafficking and weapons of mass destruction), Washington ceased to observe a distinction between internal security and external defence. SouthCom experienced a “great leap forward”: its role was already extensive, but now it developed into a more autonomous protagonist in the “war on drugs”. Plan Colombia, first, and the MÃ©rida Initiative, more recently, were emblematic of the core rationality of a coercive anti-drug strategy â€“ a strategy that, by definition, placed the military centre-stage in a prohibitionist crusade in the Americas. […]
What we are witnessing practically everywhere in the Americas is a coercive prohibition campaign that brings neither a partial nor a total solution to the drug question. Unless its premises are challenged, a permanent sense of a “clear and present danger” with regard to narcotics will be fostered both in the United States and in Latin America â€“ which, in a circular way, will only serve to justify the existing repressive policies. The role of the US Southern Command in the Latin American front of the “war on drugs” is key to the prohibitionist paradigm.
Powerful stuff. And right on target.
This is, in part, why I feel it’s unlikely that we’ll get anything really useful from the State Department memos from WikiLeaks (although I’m willing to be surprised) â€” the only real conflicting opinion that’s likely to be found is over who gets the lion’s share of the power and funding from continuing the drug war.
Oh, and don’t forget: Drug Czar Kerlikowske ended the drug war last May.